Grant to help students blast off to grad school

Twenty-two Sam Houston State University juniors and seniors who may have once felt that upper level college study was beyond their dreams will be selected soon for a new program named in honor of former astronaut Ronald McNair. The students will be the first recipients in the new grant program for which Sam Houston State University recently received $880,000 to be used over a four-year period. The application deadline is Dec. 1. Students can pick up application forms at the SAM Center or in the Teacher Education Center Room 334. Recipients will be juniors and seniors who have a 3.0 grade point average and are either a minority or first generation student. The goal of the Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement grants sponsored by the U. S. Department of Education is to increase the attainment of Ph. D.s by students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The role model for the program created in 1987 is former NASA astronaut Ronald E. McNair. He completed his bachelor’s degree in physics at North Carolina A&T State University, graduating magna cum laude in 1971. McNair received his doctorate in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. He was selected for the NASA astronaut corps in 1978 and died aboard the space shuttle Challenger in January 1986. SHSU faculty member Kandi Tayebi, principal investigator in the effort to obtain the funding, said that participants will receive preparation for graduate work, with the goal of eventual doctoral study. She said the students will have opportunities to engage in research, develop relationships with faculty mentors, create a network of scholars in their field, and learn how to apply and prepare for graduate school. Participants will also receive a grant to help them with their research, mentoring, tutoring, computer workshops, and a laptop computer to be used while they are at SHSU. “The mission of the McNair Program is to select the best students and provide them every opportunity to realize their potential and fulfill their dreams,” Tayebi said. She also suggested that faculty members urge their best and brightest students who meet the program guidelines to apply. In addition to Tayebi, grant committee members included Alice Fisher, Beverly Irby, and Bernice Strauss.

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