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McNair Scholars

What is the McNair Scholars Program?

The Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program recognizes that the diversity of researchers is an integral component of scholastic excellence. It seeks to produce a new generation of scholars and researchers that will more accurately reflect the growing diversity in intellectual perspectives, life experiences, and cultures represented in academia.

The McNair Scholars Program is a federally funded program (one of the TRIO Programs funded by the Department of Education) mandated by Congress. The goal of the program is to increase the number of students in doctoral degree programs who are low-income and first-generation undergraduates or students who come from groups underrepresented in graduate education.

Beloit College is one of the few private liberal arts institutions that runs the McNair Scholars Program. At Beloit, it is particularly significant because it serves a critical group of talented students who are groomed to become scholars and leaders.

2013 Cohort Minnesota Visit

Picture: McNair 2013 Cohort at UW Minnesota

 McNair Scholars Program Goals
1.  To increase the number of students in doctoral degree programs who are low-income and first-generation undergraduates or students who come from groups underrepresented in graduate education
2.  To produce a new generation of scholars and researchers that will more accurately reflect the growing diversity in intellectual perspectives, life experiences, and cultures represented in academia
3.  To create a scholarly community of rigor, engagement and success
4.  To serve as a model for the development of emerging socially progressive scholars
5.  To foster spaces for interdisciplinary scholarship, mentorship and knowledge exchange

McNair Symposium Group Shot

Picture: UC Berkeley 21st Annual McNair Symposium 2013

Dr. Ronald E. McNair
McNairDr. Ronald Erwin McNair was the second African American to fly in space. Born on October 21, 1950 to a struggling family in racially segregated Lake City, South Carolina, Ronald never accepted second best.

In high school he was a Star Scout, a talented football player, a skilled musician and a karate champion. He graduated as valedictorian from Carver High School in 1967.

Ronald McNair continued his education at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in physics in 1971. At the age of 26, he earned his Ph.D. in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

While working as a staff physicist with Hughes Research Laboratory, Dr. McNair became nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics. NASA selected him for the Space Shuttle Program in 1978. He was the second African-American chosen to join the space program and made his first space flight in 1984. Tragically, Dr. McNair and six other astronauts perished aboard the ill-fated space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986.

To honor Dr. McNair, the United States Congress endowed the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage first-generation college students from low-income backgrounds and/or underrepresented populations to pursue graduate studies.