McNair Scholars Program comes to Baylor

By Pablo Gonzales | Assistant News Editor

Baylor University has been given an annual grant of $232,265 to introduce the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program.

Named after Ronald McNair, an astronaut who died during the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger Mission, the program partners with universities to prepare minority students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. Participants are from disadvantaged backgrounds and have demonstrated strong academic potential. The program is funded by the United States Department of Education and is one of eight TRIO programs.

TRIO programs are federal programs that provide services to disadvantaged and underrepresented individuals. One of the more well-known programs is Upward Bound, a program that provides low-income students with resources and aid in preparing for and applying for college.

Dr. Sinda K. Vanderpool, associate vice provost for academic enrollment management, said in a press releasethat this program will identify talented students and provide them with resources to enter academia.

“The big-picture goal of the McNair Program is to build the pipeline for future members of the academy,” Vanderpool said. “It’s important for under-represented students in college to see professors who share similar experiences and have similar backgrounds to their own.”

Students that are part of the McNair program will get a chance to work with faculty on research projects, prepare for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and present at conferences. The grant Baylor received will allow for 25-30 students to enter the program.

“I am very excited that the McNair Program is coming to Baylor,” Leander senior Parth Amin said. “Many multicultural students are the first in their families to go to college, let alone graduate school, so this is an excellent chance for multicultural students to advance their education.”

A team of 10 people composed of faculty and students came together to write the grant for the McNair program over the course of the last school year. One of the members of the committee was Rachel Renbarger, a student in educational psychology, who was named a McNair Scholar during her time as an undergraduate at the University of Oklahoma. She currently serves as the graduate assistant of the Baylor in Maastricht program and said she would not be where she is without the McNair program.

“There is a zero percent chance that I would be in graduate school without McNair,” Renbarger said. “Even if I by some chance I was accepted to graduate school, I don’t think that I would have lasted very long without McNair.”

The McNair Program will take its first cohort in spring 2018. Interest meetings will begin this semester.