McNair Program gives students money for research

The McNair Scholars Program is a research opportunity for underrepresented students that helps applicants pursue graduate school. The application deadline is coming to a close on March 1, 2022.

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, commonly known as the McNair Scholars Program, is funded by the government via the U.S. Department of Education. The program is named after Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African American to fly to space. After his death in the Challenger Space Shuttle Mission, Congress provided funding for the McNair Scholars Program to help underrepresented students prepare for graduate degree attainment.

“My advisor, Dr. Clark, my first semester here told me that I should apply for the McNair Program if I was planning to go to graduate school,” said Ashlynn Lester, senior history major at West Texas A&M University.

Students use the guidance of a faculty member to create a research project, attend graduate school seminars, participate in Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) preparation and aid in professional research presentations at a conference. Participants also receive funding to stay on campus over the summer.

“I was able to learn how to communicate better,” Daniele Cervantes, senior digital communication and media major. “Just like reaching out for help, especially [from] my teachers and the director of the minor program.”

“[The McNair Scholars program] just received word that we will be able to increase the scholars’ stipend this year from $2,800 to $5,000,” said Kirbi Kelley-Diaz, graduate assistant for the McNair Program. “We’re also granting an extra $1,500 for the scholars to spend at their discretion, though it is intended to help with living costs, housing, food, etc.”

The financial opportunities are contingent on the successful completion of research milestones, submitting their final papers and attending the summer seminars.

The application process closes on March 1, 2022. The research period begins in May and concludes in mid-August. All of the applications are screened and a pool of top candidates are selected to be interviewed. Interviews will begin shortly after the close of the application period. The prospective applicants are also required to submit copies of transcripts and current tax returns. More details on the application process can be found here.

WT’s dedication to students through the McNair program helps first-generation and minority students enter into the field of academia. WT is one of 18 other universities in the state of Texas to participate in the McNair Program.

“Before McNair, I was kind of hesitant about graduate school,” Cervantes said. “Now, because of the program, I do want to pursue higher education. It did prepare me for what’s to come, what kinds of programs exist, what I want to do and what kind of research I want to pursue.”

If you have any questions about applying or are interested, you can visit the ​​Killgore Research Center, Suite 184 and speak with Victoria Salas, director of the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program at WT.