On February 18, EWU's McNair Scholar Program selection committee met to review student application packets. The federally-funded TRIO Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program at EWU selects motivated and talented juniors and seniors who are first-generation and low-income college students, and/or from groups underrepresented at the doctoral level to introduce them to academic research and provide them with effective strategies for getting into and graduating from PhD programs. Selection committee members included Dr. Judd Case and Dr. Margaret O'Connell from the Biology department, Dr. Miguel Novella from the Chicana/o/x studies program, Dr. Stephen Tsikalas from the Geology department, and Dr. Kayleen Islam-Zwart from the Psychology department, along with Cynthia Dukich and Cori Jaeger of the EWU McNair Scholars Program. They read letters of recommendation and personal statements, reviewed transcripts and academic plans, and carefully determined the strengths and needs of each candidate.
McNair's recruitment process begins on the first day of Fall Quarter, when the McNair staff connects with current and past mentors, supportive faculty, and everyone in the EWU community who can help ensure that the EWU student body knows about the services and support McNair offers. Bryn Tennyson, who has served as our STEM GSA for the past two years, gave presentations in STEM and other classes to sophomores and juniors, who would be eligible in 2021, and distributed flyers all over campus.
McNair staff also solicited nominations from faculty and staff. We want to extend our gratitude to all the faculty who nominated students, including Dr. Majid Sharifi, Dr. Gloria Baynes, Dr. Michael Conlin, Dr. Joseph Lenti, Dr. Carmen Nezat, Dr. Jillene Seiver, and Dr. Yves Nievergelt, and many more who may not have formally nominated a student but did encourage them to head our way! Thank you too, to the numerous faculty who took the time to write thoughtful letters of recommendation for our scholars.
This year McNair is developing and strengthening our partnerships with EWU's CAMP (College Assistant Migrant Program) and Passport to Careers Program. The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) is a federally funded program designed to support students from migrant and seasonal farm worker backgrounds during their first year of college. All CAMP students will be eligible for the McNair Scholars program once they have the correct amount of credits completed. The Passport to Careers program helps former foster youth and unaccompanied homeless youth prepare for and succeed in college. They are sharing the news about McNair’s resources to all of their students. Thanks to both of these programs for supporting McNair! We hope that by collaborating we can better serve the students in all of our programs.
Once a student has been nominated or reaches out to McNair, McNair staff follow up with one-on-one meetings to learn about each student’s goals, determine eligibility, and walk them through the many benefits of McNair, such as a paid summer research internship, waivers for application fees for graduate school, guidance on securing funding for graduate school, and regular advising and workshops on how to prepare for and apply to graduate school. McNair Staff met with as many as 40 students throughout the recruitment process and had email correspondence with over 70 students. While some students may not have been eligible or decided not to pursue McNair, all were offered thoughtful advising on the path to reach their goals. McNair has many resources that they can pass along to any student, such as a rubric for writing statements of purpose (the essay you write to get into graduate school) and lists of summer research internships across the country. We find that the good will that this creates often contributes greatly to the recruitment process and overall awareness on campus of McNair Resources. Well over 100 staff hours went into recruiting and retaining McNair Scholars.
We are thrilled to report that all recruited applicants who have been participating in our Winter Scholarly Identity Course will be continuing in the program and preparing for their Summer Research Internships. Our new cohort includes students studying biotechnology, dentistry, economic science, gender women's and sexuality studies, history, horticulture, international relations, mechanical engineering, philosophy, political science, and psychology.
EWU's McNair Scholars Program extends our appreciation again to all the faculty on the selection committee, those who nominated and encouraged students, and the CAMP, Honors, and Passport Programs! We couldn't do it without you!