Kernaghan, McKenna
McKenna Kernaghan
Stamps Forty Acres Scholarship, supported by the College of Education Advisory Council
Forty Acres Scholars Class of 2020
Austin, TX
High School
Hyde Park High School

Growing up I was a sports-aholic. I loved the bonds of a team, the thrills of a win and the physical demands of exhausting my body. While taking my first high school college course, Introduction to Psychology, I learned how the brain plays such an important role in sports and injury recovery. I became a coach for First Tee which allowed me to experience how I can help shape young athlete’s performance and character. Being a Special Olympics Coach and Autism Speaks volunteer enabled me to better understand the difficulties faced by those with special needs. These experiences motivated me to want to help people overcome their obstacles with an emphasis on helping athletes with disabilities.

In addition to my studies at UT, I have obtained my Associates of Art in Psychology from Austin Community College. I also studied abroad in the Olympic City of Lausanne, Switzerland, studying Sports Psychology which fueled my desire to identify mentally and physically with athletes from all different backgrounds and I became curious about global social phenomenon. This new intrigue prompted me to take two sociology summer courses, and I added sociology as a minor. My goal is to take this passion and carve a niche where I can help people, and I want to do this by continuing to study and work internationally.

Kinesiology; Plan II Honors

Honors Program
Plan II Honors

Other Academic Interests
Minor in Sociology; Sports Psychology

Extracurricular Activities
While in high school I formed Christian Cousins Ministries, where my family and friends to this day continue to provide services for the elderly, homeless and children with Autism. I coach volleyball and golf with Special Olympics and coach volleyball with Hyde Park Middle school. I participate in Young Life College and mentor high school students as a Young Life Leader. On campus, I am involved with Leadershape-Texas and the Texas Kinesiology Club.

What drew you to the Forty Acres Scholars Program (FASP)?
I was initially drawn to the Forty Acres Scholar Program as I was looking for scholarships to help fund my education. I quickly learned that this was not a scholarship but a program that invested in their scholars far beyond a financial gift. I was comforted to know that I would be embraced by the Texas Exes organization through one of the largest and most active alumni networks in the world. I was genuinely excited to learn that this program is committed to helping scholars live up to UT's motto of "What Starts Here Changes the World" through interactive training, team building, personal development, and funding to explore our global community through studying abroad.

What makes your scholar cohort unique?
My FASP cohort, the scholars, and the staff are my UT family who give me a sense of home. We are a collaborative, diverse, compassionate, and spirited team who are connected extraordinarily. As we all know, we are incredibly blessed with the honor of representing the Texas Exes. We look out for each other, we support each other, we challenge each other, and we have fun together. Being surrounded by these amazingly talented friends has helped me to grow from new perspectives and points of views and inspires me to become a stronger leader.

Favorite FASP Memory
No doubt the most notable moment was getting a call that I was accepted into the Forty Acres Scholars Program. It is hard to pick a favorite memory as we had so many incredible experiences this past year. Getting to meet and take a picture with Kevin Durant during his induction as an Outstanding Young Texas Ex was a Longhorn’s dream. My other favorite memory from the Program was traveling to Atlanta with the other UT Stamps Scholars for the Stamps Scholars Convention where we engaged in leadership training and interacted with amazing students from across the country. Overall, my memories with the Forty Acres Scholars Program have been unforgettable.

What do you want prospective students to know about the University of Texas?
My educational upbringing was through a small private school where I knew all the students and personally engaged with my teachers. I was seeking a challenge and wanted to expand my horizons by attending a public university, but the enormity of UT seemed daunting. When I was accepted as part of the Forty Acres Scholars Program, I knew this was my path. What I have learned is that a large university equates to big opportunities. The biggest problem students have is trying to fit in all the amazing experiences available to you on this campus!