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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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McNair program benefits first-generation students at New Mexico State University

Thirteen New Mexico State juniors and seniors are conducting research in the sciences, social sciences or humanities this summer as part of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program.


air Program aims to prepare first-generation college students or students from groups underrepresented in graduate education for doctoral study. It is one of the federal TRIO Programs and is funded through the U.S. Department of Education.

The summer research internship is just one element of the McNair Program, which encompasses two years of graduate study preparation.

"The McNair Program has so many benefits. The students participate in a variety of activities that help them to become very competitive to pursue doctoral study," said Sue Brown, director of the Center for Learning Assistance at New Mexico State.

The students complete their research during an eight-week summer internship, under the guidance of a faculty mentor, and present their findings at national and regional conferences as well as the Undergraduate Research and Creative Arts Symposium at New Mexico State.

The current McNair scholars include five students from Las Cruces: Gary Bond, a senior in psychology; Grace Doan, a senior in sociology; Aja Guerrero, a senior in communication studies; Christopher Perez, a junior in women's studies and English, and Matthew Sanchez, a senior in criminal justice and political science. Also participating are Tania Blechinger, a senior in sociology from Alamogordo; Frankie Brito, a senior in Spanish from Canutillo; Josh Carroll, a senior criminal justice and psychology from Farmington; Silvia Patricia Gomez, a senior in criminal justice from Santa Ana, Calif.; Angelica Rodriguez, a senior in psychology and Spanish from El Paso; Shane Terrell, a senior in criminal justice from Deming; Georgia Torres, a senior in community health from Truth or Consequences, and Joylynn Whitfield, a senior in broadcast journalism from Reserve.

First-year McNair scholars explore careers in higher education, develop a mentoring relationship with a research faculty member and begin preparation for the Graduate Records Exam. Second-year scholars receive assistance with graduate school applications and participate in the "Graduate School Survival Seminar."

"Very few students receive this type of intensive preparation for graduate school. Because of this, universities actively recruit McNair scholars for their graduate programs," Brown said.

To be eligible for the McNair Program, students must be first-generation college students and meet federal income guidelines, or be a member of a group underrepresented in graduate education, such as African-Americans, Hispanics or Native Americans, must have two years remaining until graduation and must maintain a grade point average of at least 2.8.

Students interested in applying to be a McNair scholar should call Sue Brown, (505) 646-3137, or Margaret Mendoza, (505) 646-1342.