The McNair Experience

​​We think of our work with each scholar as a holistic journey together. We get to know our students really well and we support them in many ways. It goes beyond academics, to be sure. We are really in the business of growing amazingly confident and strong individuals who know they have the choice to take their education and experiences in life to great levels. We are working with students coming from some pretty tough backgrounds. Our students have already overcome huge obstacles in order to make it to college. We listen and learn from these experiences and we are intent on moving beyond them. Our focus is really on encouraging our students to make healthy choices in their lives that will enable them to excel on all levels – academically and otherwise.

The magic, if you will, comes from our relationships with the scholars and relationships among the scholars and with their faculty mentors. The group grows and evolves together and supports one another. In the end, you have an amazing group of students who understand one another and want to see each other succeed. And, you have a special group of students supported by a very special group of faculty intent on supporting their success.

The goal of McNair is have our scholars carry on in the footsteps of Dr. McNair (click HERE for more on his amazing life) by achieving their Ph.D. and then giving back. Giving back to society through their work, yes, but also giving back to the community and by mentoring students and helping others to find their way. The Ph.D. opens doors to do some really cool things in life! 

​It’s the McNair Mission.​ 

​The McNair experience in bullet form:

  • Be someone who is curious and loves learning.  Be someone who is passionate about something.  Be someone who is willing to be challenged and exposed to new things.  Be someone who has a positive outlook on life and grabs hold of opportunity.  Be someone who works hard and has fun.
  •  Find out about the McNair program and develop a relationship with us.  Find out as much as possible about the McNair program and how it could benefit you.  Find out about the awesome scholars who are already part of the McNair Mission. 
  • Make sure you qualify as a low income and first generation college student and/or an underrepresented student.  Make sure you have the best grades possible.  The cut-off is a 2.8 GPA, but know that we are looking for academically motivated students that want to excel.
  •  Think about your interests and goals.  Talk to as many faculty in your area as possible and learn about their research.  Ask them why you should consider getting your Ph.D.  Apply to McNair with some ideas of what you would like to do in life and how getting your Ph.D. will be an important step for you along the way.
  • Be selected.  Be super excited.  Maybe a little nervous.  Immediately start thinking of faculty you would like to work with – selecting a mentor is step number one in McNair.  Your mentor is the foundation of your experience as a scholar.  Be mindful about growing the best relationship possible!
  • Get to know the group.  Get to know our research writing instructor.  Get to know staff.  Get a feel of how we jive and flow.  Know the expectations and know the great opportunities.  Commit fully to the experience.
  •  Develop your research proposal and meet weekly with your faculty mentor.  Work with our speech communication coach and prepare to present your proposal.  Feel awesome about your accomplishments as a McNair scholar this first spring semester!
  • Relax before the Summer Research Institute starts.  The SRI is intense and fun.  Pace yourselves.  This is when you do your research, study for the GRE and figure out your plan for graduate school.  Or you know, your life.  The summer will bring structure and flexibility.  It will bring much work along with much growth and fun.  In the end, the SRI (and entire McNair experience for that matter) is what you make it to be.  We require our scholars to make it the best ever!
  • Feel entirely accomplished at the end of the summer.  Take a break.  School starts soon.  You will be presenting your final work in oral and poster format for the university community, so be excited!  Finalize and practice your presentations.  Work hard on your classes.
  • Now this is where scholars divert according to their personal timelines for graduation.  Some scholars will be immediately applying to graduate school this fall (and thus putting their Graduate School Action Plan into action!) while others will have another summer before they apply.
  • Grad-oriented scholars have intense fall semesters.  There’s no way around it.  Besides the normal demand of classes, you are trying to gain entry into fully-funded Ph.D. programs.  Applications can be complicated and time consuming.  Good thing you have all of the tools and techniques from McNair!  A huge part of the fall semester is visiting your top-choice schools.  Key to getting accepted – in our view – and a complicated and time consuming process as well.  Well worth it in the end.  Talk to our scholars who receive offers of $19,000 or $27,000 or even $30,000 yearly stipends to complete their doctoral work – plus their tuition is covered too!  Hark work = some pretty cool opportunities.
  • Some of our scholars present their work at national conferences throughout the year.  We highly encourage these opportunities.
  • For our scholars not applying until next fall (i.e. juniors) – they are working hard in their classes, probably continuing to do research with their faculty mentors (some of our scholars even get published while still an undergrad!).
  • “Younger” scholars have the benefit of applying to Summer Research Opportunity Programs at their top-choice universities – these are SWEET DEALS that can really help you get selected for your program of choice. It’s a great way to be able to continue to do more research and get a “foot in the door!” Scholars who pursue these opportunities love them and it usually pays off with an offer of admission that following fall.
  • Throughout the academic year, we remain connected with our scholars. That’s just how we tend to roll. We try to coordinate our schedules so that we can practice yoga or work out together, we get together for lunch and “catch up” sessions, we attend a few workshops on topics like “stress management” and “professional etiquette” and we even hit up a few cultural-type activities down at the Wharton Center from time to time.
  • The bottom line is that we are here for our students – at whatever point they may be in their personal journeys. Everyone is different and everyone has a unique set of needs and desires. We try to respond in positive and helpful ways. We encourage our students explore options for themselves. We challenge them, we see them falter and then we celebrate their accomplishments. It’s about our scholars rocking it out on a daily basis – one step at a time.

We are so lucky to be able to provide this kind of experience and be a part of this special journey. We are always looking for new talent – come talk to us if you think you qualify for McNair and you are considering pursuing your Ph.D. 

It could change your life.​