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K-State Today

August 18, 2022

K-State McNair Scholars grant continues supporting access to graduate study

Submitted by Stephanie J. Bannister

Kansas State University has been awarded a $1,466,685 five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to continue the TRIO Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program services.

The program, known as McNair Scholars Program for short, promotes equity in graduate school enrollment by helping high-achieving low-income, first-generation or underrepresented undergraduates prepare to complete doctoral degrees.

K-State has maintained the TRIO McNair Program since the first grant award in 1995. Grant funds provide eligible students with intensive support to connect with research faculty mentors, complete a research internship, develop research writing and presentation skills, network with graduate programs, attend research conferences and prepare graduate school applications. At least two-thirds of the students in the program are from families with limited income where neither parent/guardian has completed a bachelor's degree. The program is offered through the university's Office of Student Success.

The grant continues the successful programming established and maintained by Kathleen Greene, the inaugural director of the McNair Scholars Program who recently retired. From the foundation Greene established, program manager Cheryl Rauh wrote the new grant proposal with support from former McNair Academic Development Coordinator Maggie Borders and leadership in the Office of Student Success.

"I'm honored to continue Dr. Greene's work and excited for some of the changes in this most recent grant, especially our new McNair Explorers initiative to help eligible first- and second-year students learn about graduate school and research early enough to engage in the professional development necessary for competitive graduate school applications," Rauh said.

Objectives of the grant include achieving the following:

• 90% of participants complete research and scholarly activity annually.

• 30% of bachelor's recipients be accepted and enrolled in graduate school the fall term immediately following graduation.

• 90% of first-year graduate students continue enrollment into the second year of their graduate program.

• 10% of program participants complete a doctoral degree within 10 years of earning their bachelor's degree.

In its 27-year history, the K-State McNair Program has graduated nearly 300 undergraduates. More than 55% of program alumni have earned graduate degrees and almost 11% hold a doctorate, well above the general population.

"K-State's McNair Scholars Program is the reason I am a doctoral candidate and future faculty member," said alumna Toni Owens. "The program was vital for me to obtain undergraduate research experience, become a competitive graduate school applicant and gain exposure to what opportunities awaited beyond my bachelor's degree completion. I am elated that the renewed grant for the K-State McNair Scholars program will ensure that future faculty members like myself will start their graduate school journey off on the right foot. Congratulations!"

TRIO Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Programs honor the legacy of Ronald McNair, who died tragically in the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster on Jan. 28, 1986. Congress funded the program soon after under the umbrella of the Federal TRIO Programs, which support college access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.