Baylor is in the first year of its five-year, U.S. Department of Education-funded grant to implement the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, known as the McNair Scholars program, which prepares low-income, first-generation and/or other underrepresented students to successfully navigate a path to a PhD program following graduation.
The Baylor McNair Scholars program immerses students in research and a variety of scholarly activities, with a goal of increasing graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented groups. Steven Fernandez, who was a first-generation college student at Florida International University, is Baylor’s director of the McNair Scholars program.
“Baylor’s inaugural class of 25 McNair Scholars is an extremely amazing group of students,” Fernandez said. “They’re from diverse backgrounds, even from different academic disciplines. We have a large group of veteran students who come with abundant life experiences and students from all different ethnic backgrounds. It really works to create a cohesive community environment, and students have been able to be very supportive of each other.”
Baylor’s grant funding will support 25-30 students each year with substantial mentoring and community building along the way. The benefits of being a Baylor McNair Scholar include a paid summer research internship, seminars and professional development workshops, conference travel opportunities, GRE® test preparation and graduate school application assistance. Baylor faculty who serve as mentors act as “a guiding light” for students in multiple ways, Fernandez said.
After U.S. astronaut Ronald McNair’s death aboard the U.S. Challenger space shuttle in 1986, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by McNair’s life.
For more information about the Baylor McNair Scholars program, visit baylor.edu/mcnairscholars.