The Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program, part of Boston College’s Learning to Learn Office, has been awarded $1.15 million in funding. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the McNair Program works to prepare undergraduate Boston College students from underrepresented groups for graduate education. Often, the program’s participants come from low-income and first-generation backgrounds. This award will go towards continuing the program at Boston College.
The McNair Program is a federal program funded at 151 institutions around the United States and Puerto Rico. Boston College, Suffolk University, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston are home to the only three funded McNair programs in the state of Massachusetts.
“The goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to increase graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented segments of society,” according to the website for the national program.
The namesake of the program is Dr. Ronald E. McNair. McNair earned his Ph.D. in laser physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later became the second African-American to fly in space. He was killed while aboard U.S. Challenger space shuttle when it exploded in 1986. Following his death, members of Congress provided funding for the McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program to support underrepresented students in graduate education in his honor.
At Boston College, students apply to the program during the spring semester of either freshman or sophomore year. Those who become McNair Scholars are paired with a faculty mentor; they also participate in research and study abroad programs in the summer.
The abstracts of the McNair Scholars who completed research in the summer of 2017 cover a wide range of topics. For example, Tiwalayo Eisape completed a project entitled “Analyzing the Foreign Exchange Market with Google Deep Dream.” Another scholar, Karla Ross, completed a project entitled “Mental Health Stigmas and Help-Seeking Behaviors in Latino College Students”. In the summer of 2017, there were 14 research projects of differing topics completed by McNair Scholars at Boston College.
The McNair Program is just one of the programs offered by the Learning to Learn Office at BC. Based out of the office at 50 College Road, it provides a variety of additional services, including career advising, support for students considering graduate school, and courses on achieving academic success in college.
This $1.15 million award will go towards continued support of the McNair Program at Boston College. The Program and the Learning to Learn Office will continue to support BC students of low income, first-generation college backgrounds, and underrepresented populations in academia as they work along the path to graduate education.