By Taylor McGilvray
Since entering the Honors College at the age of 16, Erica Fletcher
has made a name for herself in the field of visual anthropology
with her film on Latina women in Houston with HIV/AIDS.
"I became interested in (ethnographic film) because I had an
idea that films could have an impact on populations outside of ac-
ademia," Fletcher said. "My generation is highly visually oriented,
and one of the best ways to disseminate knowledge to others is
now through film and multimedia sources."
Fletcher said one of her inspiration to do the film was her role
model Margaret Mead, an activist and scientist who used film and
images to portray her research.
With her work, Fletcher said her aim is to improve the conditions of women and girls from all communities, which she believes
will help humanity as a whole.
Her grandmother's example, she said, has been her biggest
source of inspiration for the themes of her work.
"As an undereducated immigrant from Taiwan to Brazil, my
grandmother had a challenging life, and she selflessly devoted
herself to her children and their future," Fletcher said. "I admire
her strength, courage, intelligence, and determination; and I hope
to emulate her throughout my life."
When researching her first film, Fletcher was surprised by how
willing people were to cooperate and talk with her. She says interacting with people is her favorite part of the research.
Fletcher did, however, run into some roadblocks with the technical aspects of her first film because of her lack of experience
behind the camera. She relied on help from her professors to work
out the kinks and later audited a film class so she could better
convey her research.
"I have been trained in social science, not media production,
so there has definitely been a learning curve in becoming more
technologically savvy," Fletcher said.
Fletcher is now working on a film about sex trafficking for her
senior honors thesis, but is still amazed at the amount of press her
first film has obtained.
"As an undergraduate studying social science, I never thought
I would be on the radio, television, newspapers and magazines
talking about issues that really matter to me, and I continue to
be amazed by the response my film has received," Fletcher said.
"Since then, I began to realize the impact that one film could
make, and I thought more seriously about continuing similar research in the future."
She said none of this attention she and her film have gotten
would have been possible without the help and support of her professors and classmates.
"The support I have received from the many faculty, staff, and
students (in the Honors College) has greatly nurtured my intellectual and emotional growth," Fletcher said. "Karen Weber, Dr. Dan
Price, Dr. Jerome Crowder, and many others have mentored me
throughout my undergraduate career. Without their tireless help
and guidance, I would not be where I am today."
As far as the future is concerned, 19-year-old Fletcher is not
sure how it will pan out. She is currently applying for doctoral
programs in anthropology, but she also may take some time off
school. One thing is certain, though; she will continue to try to
make a difference in society.
"Throughout my undergraduate career, two questions have
troubled me greatly: First, what does 'helping' others actually entail? Second, how can I use my talent to further this goal?" Fletcher
said. "By supporting initiatives involving interdisciplinary studies,
sustainable development, and community involvement, I have
begun my journey to answer these questions. I know that my answers will keep evolving throughout my life, and I look forward to
the struggle to keep adapting to changing these frameworks of
what it really means to help others."
Photo by Gregory Bohuslav
 inside the Pride.