The inaugural class of UNC Greensboro McNair Scholars graduated last Friday, with 17 scholars turning their tassels and setting their sights on graduate school.
The UNCG-McNair Scholars Program is a federal TRiO program funded by the U.S. Department of Education that prepares undergraduate students for the pursuit of a doctoral degree. The program is designed for first-generation students from low-income backgrounds, as well as students who are members of groups that are traditionally underrepresented in graduate studies.
UNCG launched its McNair Program in the fall of 2017 and is one of just five universities in the UNC System to offer the program. UNCG-McNair provides students with faculty mentorship, research and conference presentation opportunities, and graduate school preparation.
For biochemistry major Alyssa Sanchez, the opportunities provided to her as a McNair Scholar were transformative. The newly-minted alumna is headed to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in the fall and credits UNCG-McNair for helping her get accepted to her “dream school.”
“The McNair Program has done so much for me. The entire program was very student-centric,” Sanchez said. “The McNair staff provided mentorship, helped me study for the Pharmacy College Admission Test, and supported me financially to continue with my research over the summer.”
Sanchez is one of 11 McNair Scholars who will begin graduate school in the fall. Some of her peers are enrolling in graduate programs here at UNCG, including master’s programs in social work, sociology, and English. Other students are leaving Greensboro for master’s and doctoral programs at American University, the University of Nevada, Reno, and the University of South Carolina, to name a few.
The remaining six scholars will take a gap year to further explore their research interests.
“These inaugural McNair Scholars are true pioneers. The success they have achieved in the classroom and in their research has set the bar high for future McNair Scholars at UNCG,” said Dr. D. Clinton Williams, associate director of UNCG-McNair. “More importantly, this cohort of students illustrate that students who are underrepresented in the academy can achieve success. I am so proud of these scholars, and I look forward to witnessing their future academic success and seeing them transform academia.”
In November, Williams and his team welcomed 19 new students into the program. These students are unique in that they are already thinking about their research and starting to work with faculty.
The program’s Summer Research Institute provides students a stipend to stay on campus and work on their research with a faculty mentor. Additionally, McNair Scholars can pursue off-campus research opportunities. This summer, one student will travel to Poland to conduct research, while another will conduct research at the Duke University School of Medicine.
“With this new class, we’re really looking at them being competitive for national fellowships for graduate school,” Williams said. “We want our students to have these opportunities because they set you up for excellence.”
Want to learn more about UNCG-McNair? Visit studentsuccess.uncg.edu/uncg-mcnair-scholars-program/.
Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications
Photography by Jiyoung Park, University Communications