McNair scholarship gives money, academic support

For students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. after graduation, there is a scholarship on campus many might not have known about. The Ronald McNair Scholarship is a program dedicated to providing advising, faculty mentoring and research training to students.

The scholarship was created in the memory of Ronald McNair, an astronaut who perished in the 1986 explosion of the Challenger.

Eastern Michigan University was able to get a chapter of the scholarship placed on campus by vying for it in a federal competition. Dr. James Knapp, director of the Honors College, was principal investigator and wrote the grant that received a perfect score.

While most scholarships just provide monetary awards, Kimberly Freeman, the executive secretary for the program, said this is not your typical scholarship. “We provide academic support and a host of other things for students.”

Students who become McNair scholars become eligible to receive a spring or summer research stipend. “The program is rigorous but there is a $2,800.00 stipend that students receive. Students are also given a $500.00 stipend for research supplies,” Freeman said.

Scholars also receive travel expenses for presenting research and for visiting prospective graduate schools, graduate tuition waivers at participating graduate schools and opportunities to work with faculty research mentors.

“Professors see that our scholars have experience. That is a big component of getting accepted into Masters’ programs,” Freeman said.

In order to receive the scholarship, students must meet certain stipulations. Students must be currently enrolled at EMU, be low income or first generation college students and underrepresented. Also, they must have at least 30 credit hours completed by the time the application is submitted and they must be 12 months prior to graduation. Students should also have a minimum G.P.A. of 3.0 and be committed to obtaining a Ph.D. degree.

Students can expect to be exposed to a supportive program. “We offer a number of seminars to get them prepared. We have people come in and teach them how to write personal statements. We also have first generation faculty members come in and share their own experiences,” Freeman said.

Scholars also receive preparation for the GRE, the Graduate Record Examinations, which measures verbal reasoning and analytical writing skills. “This summer, we had representatives from Kaplan come and do preparation for the GRE.”

The deadline has passed for the fall semester, but students have until Feb. 1, 2010 to apply for the winter semester.

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