McNair Scholars Grant Renewed at Trinity | Trinity University
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McNair Scholars Grant Renewed at Trinity

Monday, November 13, 2017
McNair Scholars, from left, are junior Decory Edwards, economics and mathematics major; junior Frances Stone, physics major; senior Faith Deckard, biology major; and senior Janett Munoz, biochemistry and molecular biology major.

U.S. Department of Education funding will prepare 26 students for graduate study

by Susie P. Gonzalez

The McNair Scholars Program at Trinity University is continuing for another five years using a student-focused approach to prepare first-generation, low-income undergraduates who are high achievers and who want to engage in scholarly research or activity after earning a bachelor’s degree.  

The University is receiving $232,265 annually for the next five years to support 26 students, for a total of $1.16 million from the U.S. Department of Education for the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program. Since 2007, the McNair Program at Trinity has served 125 first-generation, low-income, and/or underrepresented students.

McNair faculty and staff provide program students, from their sophomore year until they graduate, with an array of academic and career counseling services and cultural enrichment. Scholars take part in academic and cultural event seminars, complete a 10-week research internship with a faculty member, have the opportunity to present their research at local and national conferences, and visit prospective graduate schools.

“Ultimately, our aim is to develop Scholars who not only succeed in obtaining a Ph.D., but are satisfied and thrive in the environment of the Academy with an appreciation for the process of scholarship and the perspective that they bring to the discourse,” said program director Kelly Lyons, also a biology professor.                                                                                

She said the program seeks to improve academic readiness, develop interest in and appreciation for the process of inquiry, and mastery of research skills.                                                                

Based upon feedback from students, Lyons said new program initiatives will include:

  • Intensive tutoring targeted at traditionally problematic courses
  • Efforts to strengthen verbal and quantitative competencies to improve test-taking abilities
  • Courses, seminars, and cultural activities that address the academic as well as psychological and social challenges of first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students

Scholars from a wide range of academic disciplines have said the program is an enormous resource for helping them adjust to campus life at Trinity and beyond.

Lyons said the program also is a point of pride for Scholars. “We want them to be proud of the ‘firsts’ that they achieve. We want them recognize that this is a huge accomplishment to graduate from college—especially a school like Trinity—and go onto graduate school.”

The Trinity McNair program will celebrate “10 Years of Excellence” with presentations from past Scholars who have earned doctorates and a special tribute to former McNair director Michael Soto, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, who led the program from its inception at Trinity for nearly nine years. The event will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, in the atrium of the Center for the Sciences and Innovation.  

Named after the late physicist and Challenger astronaut Dr. Ronald E. McNair, the program prepares participants for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. Students eligible for the program are first-generation college students from lower income families or from groups underrepresented in fields of graduate study.

Susie P. Gonzalez, senior manager of public relations, can be reached at susie.gonzalez [at] or @susiegonz.