Young Erica McQuay was wise beyond her years.
“I read a biography of George Washington Carver in grade school,” said McQuay. “He said that plants can talk, and I was mesmerized.”
Carver found that every living form has energy. If you just listen and watch for how it uses that energy, you can figure out what it needs.
Spend ten minutes with Erica and you’ll learn that she has an energy all her own.
When Siemens laid off workers in 2019, she decided to listen to what her energy was telling her she needed. With George Washington Carver still in her mind all those years later, she enrolled in SCC’s popular Agriculture, Modern Food Production and the Environment degree program.
Erica said that after her house burned down, she would find herself daydreaming as she mowed the newly-empty lot where her house once stood. “What’s something better I can do with this land than just keep mowing?”
It was then that she decided to pursue a career in urban agriculture and bring gardening and horticulture into cities and towns. She would work toward her small business idea: Earth Benders Pharms & Aviary, a place where she hopes to raise and sell produce and chickens.
When she earned her agriculture degree in May of 2021, she decided that to make her plan work, she’d also need to have a foundation in construction. So she returned to SCC in August and started the construction technology program.
“They actually go pretty well together,” Erin explained. Agriculture and construction require knowing how to use heavy machinery, an understanding of mechanical systems, and a good dose of self-reliance.
“I really want to build a chicken coop,” she continued. “I want to raise chickens to go with the garden.”
When she told her instructor Doug Riley about it, he asked what kind of coop. That led to a lesson in design and planning.
“Thanks to Doug, I can look at the building plans and figure out the pitch of the roof and come up with the materials and everything on my own and know I’ll be able to do it,” Erica said.
Erica shared a little advice for people interested but unsure about college.
You’ll either have your degree. Or you won’t.
Even though she came to college as an adult, attending SCC is something of a family tradition.
“My grandma, my aunt, and my mom all went to SCC,” Erica proudly proclaimed.
Her mom earned a nursing degree, her grandma earned a chemical dependency degree, and her aunt earned one of each.
“You could say SCC is in my blood.”
Attending SCC also means Erica can keep the tradition alive as she sets the example for her 1-year-old daughter, Honie B, to follow in her footsteps one day, too.
And when others raise an eyebrow and ask why she chose a career field with so few women, Erica goes back to listening to her energy.
“I tell them it’s my life and if this is the path that I need to be successful, I’ll take it so I can have the confidence in the field.”