Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

WT’s McNair Scholars Cohort Announced for 2023-24

West Texas A&M University students selected for the 2022-23 McNair Scholars cohort are, from left, Wendy “Nayeli” Galvan, Veronica Torres, Jolina Lopez, Stephanie Espinoza, Nadia Reyna, Yadhira “Yaya” Avalos, Alejandro Mata, Annali Flores, Kara Ramirez, Castina Dobbins, Samuel Issac and Marty Kacsh. Not pictured are Raquel Chavez and Michelle Truong.

CANYON, Texas — Fifteen West Texas A&M University students will join one of the University’s most prestigious academic programs in the fall.

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, or the McNair Scholars Program, at WT prepares underrepresented, low-income and first-generation undergraduate students for doctoral study through research and other scholarly activities.

In 2022, the program won a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, providing $275,000 in annual funding for five years.

The program has been offered at WT since 1999. In that time, 260 McNair Scholars have earned their bachelor’s degrees, and another 152 have earned graduate or professional degrees.

WT’s McNair Scholars program now serves 30 students per year, who receive the guidance of a mentor overseeing the research project; seminars on graduate school admission process, research methods and financial aid; a $2,800 research stipend; a $300 research supply allowance; tutoring, academic counseling and intense GRE preparation; admission and financial aid assistance; preparation for research conference preparations; fee waivers for graduate applications; and paid conference travel.

“Our new cohort of McNair Scholars boasts a higher number of STEM majors than in previous years, indicating WT’s commitment to expanding these majors among diverse populations and attracting them to attend,” said Victoria Salas, director.

Fifteen are in the fall 2022 cohort, listed with their current research project:

  • Yadhira “Yaya” Avalos, a junior biology / pre-med major from Hereford: “Ethical Issues with Social Media in Health Care: A Literature Review”;
  • Raquel Chavez, a senior physical therapy major from Los Lunas, New Mexico: “Comparative Analysis of Muscle Characteristics Among Long Jumpers, 100 Meter Sprinters, and 1500 Meter Distance Runners”;
  • Castina Dobbins, a senior accounting and finance major from Amarillo: “The Financial Hardship on Lives that Face Cancer”;
  • Stephanie Espinoza, a senior English major from Hart: “Defining Space Through Chicano Literature (La Llorona)”;
  • Annali Flores, a senior biology/pre-med major from Booker: “Biofilm Formation in Staphylococcus Aureus and their Effect on Antibiotic Sensitivity”;
  • Wendy “Nayeli” Galvan, a senior biochemistry/pre-med major from Booker: “Synthesis and Characterization of Epoxidized Limonene”;
  • Joeziv “Joe” Hernandez, a junior social sciences education major from Amarillo: “Mexican-American Conflict After World War II”;
  • Samuel Isaac, a junior animal science/pre-vet major from Rocksprings: “Investigating Multi-Decadal Patterns of Changing Temperature and Their Effects on the Growing Season Length in the Texas Panhandle”;
  • Marty Kacsh, a senior animal science/pre-vet major from Evergreen, Colorado: “Electrocardiographs and Lactate Levels in Blood on Competitive School Horses to Show Loss of Fitness from Show Season to Off Season”;
  • JoLina Lopez, a junior digital journalism major from Abernathy: “Improving Hispanic Serving Institutions: A Research Proposal to Promote Success for Hispanic Students”;
  • Alejandro Mata, a senior political science major from Hereford: “Code Switching in Collegiate Forensics”;
  • Kara Ramirez, a senior biology/pre-vet major from Andrews: “Epidemiological Study of the Diversity, Distribution, and Abundance of Ticks within the Texas Panhandle”;
  • Nadia Reyna, a sophomore health science major from San Antonio: “Patterns of Surgical Care and Additional Treatments for Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): Post COVID-19”;
  • Veronica Torres, a junior digital communication and media from Littlefield: “The K-pop Industry and Gender Discrimination Toward Female K-pop Idols”; and
  • Michelle Truong, a junior biology/psychology major from Houston: “The Effect of Childhood Trauma on the Brain.”

McNair was one of six crewmembers who died Jan. 28, 1986, when the Challenger exploded shortly after launching at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

After his death, Congress named a research program in his honor — the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, or the McNair Scholars Program. It is designed to prepare underrepresented, low-income, and first-generation undergraduate students for doctoral study through research and other scholarly activities.

McNair — who, in addition to his work as a physicist, also was a talented musician and decorated martial arts champion and instructor — was the second African American to fly in space.

McNair Scholars are an important component in WT’s goal of becoming a regional research university, as outlined in the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021— has raised more than $125 million and will continue through 2025.

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