Mission & Purpose
The McNair Scholars Program is a collegiate achievement program mentoring qualified scholars towards graduate school. The achievement program honors the late Dr. Ronald E. McNair, America's first African American astronaut who lost his life along with six others in the space shuttle Challenger launch explosion January 28, 1986. Funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, the McNair achievement program is one of the TRIO family of programs established to promote educational opportunity for all U.S. citizens regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic circumstance. Applicants must qualify for membership in the program as a first generation college student meeting federal income guidelines or be a member of a group that is underrepresented in graduate education as defined by the U.S. Department of Education (African American, Hispanic, Native American/Alaska Native).
One of the most exciting aspects of the McNair Program is the opportunity for undergraduate students at the junior and senior levels to participate in research experiences. Interns receive a research training allowance to conduct research and engage in other scholarly activities with faculty mentors from the areas in which they hope to pursue graduate study. McNair Scholars also attend professional conferences with their mentors, go to graduate school fairs, prepare for graduate school entrance exams, receive guidance through the graduate school application process and obtain information on securing fellowships, graduate assistantships, and loans. Participants learn about graduate school life, advanced library skills, and effective ways to present their work.
At the completion of the research internships at The University of Akron, McNair scholars make formal presentations of their research to faculty and peers at the McNair Scholars Conference and submit papers summarizing their work. Students who are in their sophomore year are considered recruits and participate in a pre-intern program. They learn about the opportunities associated with having a doctoral education, what research and scholarly activity entails, and what they should do as underclassmen to prepare to become McNair Scholars.