McNair scholarship offers help for low income students


Graphic by Joseph Weeden

Postbaccalaureate program at Eastern helps underrepresented students gain traction with educational help, financial assistance

By Summer Sandstrom, Contributor

The McNair Scholars Program was designed to help first-generation and low income students, or students in underrepresented groups, gain the skills and resources to apply to graduate school and receive their Ph.D.

The program was created in 1986, following the death of Dr. Ronald McNair, an astronaut on the ill-fated Space Shuttle Challenger.

Following the civil rights movement, the lack of diversity in academia became more widely recognized, and one of the goals of the McNair program is to provide more students of color with the ability to bring new perspectives to research fields.

The program provides students with an opportunity to work with a faculty mentor and complete a paid research internship in the summer, which covers the costs of living and credits, as well as providing students with a paid stipend.

“The research is what makes them competitive,” -Corinne Jaeger, Program Advisor

“The research is what makes them competitive,” said Corinne Jaeger, one of the program’s advisors at EWU. “They know what research looks like. They’ve done it before, and they’re able to be walked through it before being thrown into it in graduate school and maybe not having familiarity with it.”

The program also helps students build confidence and join a community of others with similar experiences and the same academic goals.

At EWU, the program has helped over 40 students receive their Ph.D.s, and they (who?) are hoping to continue to see that number increase. This year, they hope to accept between eight to 20 new students to the program.

Dr. Margaret O’Connell, a member of the selection committee and a past mentor, has been involved with McNair since it began at EWU in 1995.

“Ideally as you’re a mentor, in time your mentees become colleagues, and that’s one of the greatest joys,” she said.

The program also strives to create role models for students, and some of those role models include the faculty mentors.

“Our faculty mentors are really giving of their time and energy to support students,” said Jaeger, “and we can’t do it without them.”

“Our faculty mentors are really giving of their time and energy to support students.” -Corinne Jaeger, Program Advisor

Students who wish to apply to McNair must complete an application, which involves writing a personal statement and interviewing faculty members. The main goal of the application is to gauge student’s understanding of the program and why they believe it would benefit them.

Sophomores and juniors are encouraged to apply. Seniors can apply as well, but they may need to stay at EWU for a few additional quarters to complete all of the McNair requirements.

Applications are due on December 3rd this year, however, Jaeger said that students who miss the deadline should still reach out to the office, as they occasionally add in more students after the due date.

On Tuesday Oct. 19 and 26 at noon and 2 p.m., McNair is having an orientation in their office at Monroe 107. Students can attend this event to learn about the program and ask questions.

To find out more about the McNair program at EWU, visit its website or stop by their office at Monroe 107.