The McNair scholars program is a federal program in 200 institutions, funded by the United States Department of Education. The participants in the McNair program are either first-generation college students with financial need, or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic potential.
Heather Neff is the Eastern Michigan McNair Scholars program director and says the program is important because there is a “need for a multiplicity of voices in the university setting.”
Kimberly Freeman, the program specialist for the McNair program at Eastern said the McNair Program “is a reflection of what is best about Eastern.”
“Students evolve every year and we identify their unique needs, giving an individualistic perspective,” she said.
Neff gets very involved in the lives of the McNair scholars. Not only has she helped the students on an academic level, but on a personal level as well.
“I love giving back to the community that I come from,” Neff said. “But even more than that, I love seeing bright young people get the assistance they need to navigate their way through the labyrinth of undergraduate studies. It’s very personal and meaningful to me.”
Neff is a recipient of numerous teaching awards, including Eastern Michigan University’s Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, the university’s highest instructional honor.
Students in the McNair program speak highly of their experience and of Neff’s guidance.
“I wouldn’t be aware of anything without the McNair program [or] Dr. Neff,” said junior Tiffany Brown. “She’s been my lifeline and really helped me figure out what I wanted to do.”
“Dr. Neff [leaves] the office every day with a smile on her face and the wheels in her head spinning while she continues to figure out more ways to help all of us achieve our dreams and be in a position where we could do the same for others,” McNair scholar Adam Natoli said.
To find out more about the McNair program visit: emich.edu/mcnair