Frostburg State University sent six students to the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program this past summer. The program is designed to assist first generation, low-income college students and others from underrepresented groups, in pursuing doctoral degrees.
Students Alecia Eubanks, Cherise Mattheson, Mel Spears, Emmanuel Cephas, Marjie Rutledge and Khadija Mustafa attended the session at University of Maryland College Park, working on research projects in their respective fields.
“The McNair Program helped me develop a focus in my academic and professional career,” Spears said.
Participants receive tutoring, financial assistance, counseling, one-on-one time with a mentor and other opportunities to help them prepare for grad school. The program consists of a six week summer session followed by continuing support throughout the academic year. Harriet Douglas, who oversees the McNair program at FSU with Mary Mumper, faculty coordinator, says that the best time for students to join the program is the summer before their junior year of college so that they will be able to participate in two summer sessions before graduation.
During the summer, students work with mentors on research projects and attend classes on Mondays and Fridays. McNair offers Research Methods, Oral and Written Communication, and Graduate School Seminar to first year students. Second year students take a class to prepare for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), the pre-admittance test for grad school.
McNair is open to students from all fields. The students’ research covered the varied topics of foster care, a sculptor’s artwork, drug use in D.C., AIDS, theoretical physics and Parkinson’ Disease. “It was a big learning experience. I learned about myself and the politics of research,” Cephas said.
McNair scholars were given the opportunity to network with students and faculty from all over the country. Rutledge, who has already attended a conference in Buffalo, said, “I got to travel. I got to present research, which I hadn’t thought about doing before.”
During the academic year the McNair program helps students with their applications to graduate schools, has monthly workshops and helps students make contacts and travel arrangements to visit different schools.
The summer sessions culminate in an awards ceremony, where the most notable students receive recognition for their research presentations or academic achievement. Of the awards banquet, Spears commented, “It was very impressive. There were six awards and we got four…I got an honorable mention for best presentation.” Frostburg students took home awards for best presentation, academic achievement and two honorable mentions. After the summer session, students must present their research at a local, regional and national conference during the year.
According to Douglas, the staff at College Park was very impressed with the Frostburg students, noting the students’ exemplary attitude and work ethic.
For more on the McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement program, contact Douglas at 301-687-4481 or visit online at www.cd.gov/programs/triomcnair/.