In its 18th year at Wayne State University, the TRIO Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program received a five-year federal grant worth $1.3 million to continue preparing low-income and first-generation students, and students underrepresented in graduate education, for doctoral research programs in all disciplines.
“The McNair Scholars program is one of the many ways that Wayne State is working to help support diversity and inclusion in academia and beyond,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Mark Kornbluh. “We are proud to be able to continue growing and supporting this community of impressive scholars.”
The WSU McNair Scholars program prepares students for graduate studies through research, scholarly activities, academic support and graduate school exploration. This includes attending research conferences, networking with faculty, learning about best practices of research and assisting with completing graduate school applications.
“It is important to demystify graduate studies for all students interested in conducting research,” said Zach Morales, program director of the McNair Scholars. “And Wayne State offers so many research opportunities, resources and experiences for undergraduate students.”
To date, after graduating from Wayne State, 24 McNair Scholars have earned a doctorate degree and 85 students have earned a master’s degree.
Kamali Clora, who earned a bachelor’s in public health from Wayne State University in 2022, is now enrolled in his first semester at Yale University, pursuing a master’s degree in public health. Clora, a McNair scholar, said the program helped him identify opportunities and connect with scientific research communities.
“Dr. Morales was instrumental in my graduate school application process,” he said. “The McNair Scholars program takes you by the hand to show you resources and opportunities you may not have even been aware of. You always have someone to go to for support, and I feel prepared now as a graduate student.”
Lucy Arias, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from WSU, is now in her second semester of graduate school pursuing a master’s degree in clinical mental health with plans to become a therapist, said the McNair Scholars program helped her find mentors, network with other students, and demystified the graduate school application process.
“The program allows you to see what academia looks like from the inside,” Arias said. “It can be intimidating, but you learn that it’s attainable. I’m two semesters into my program, and I love it,” Arias said.
The program was created in 1989 by the U.S. Department of Education to commemorate the life and achievements of astronaut and physicist Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African American in space. Born in Lake City, South Carolina, in 1950, McNair’s mother was an elementary school teacher, and his father was a car mechanic. Despite racial segregation limiting his educational opportunities, McNair went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in physics from North Carolina A&T State University and a doctorate in physics from MIT. He was one of seven astronauts who died in the Challenger space shuttle disaster in 1986.