McNair Scholars making progress; new scholars chosen for Cohort 2

McNair Scholars making progress; new scholars chosen for Cohort 2

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program (McNair Scholars Program) completed its first year at St. Thomas with many success stories for a diverse group of young scholars. For some McNair Scholars, graduate school is the next logical step, and other scholars also are carving a clear pathway for success in their futures after they graduate next year.

The purpose of the McNair Scholars Program is to increase the number of low-income, first-generation college students and students from groups underrepresented in graduate education that leads toward a Ph.D. and, ultimately, to college professor or professional research positions.

Beginning fall 2009, two McNair Scholars will enter top-ranked graduate programs at flagship research institutions:

Brittany Lewis

  • Brittany Lewis has been admitted into the Ph.D. in Feminist Studies Program at the University of Minnesota. She also is the recipient of the Diversity of Voices and Experiences (DOVE) Fellowship, which seeks to assist graduate programs in promoting a diversity of views, experiences and ideas in the pursuit of research, scholarship and creative excellence.

    The one-year DOVE Fellowship has an approximate value of $36,500. (It includes a $22,500 stipend and approximate tuition and health insurance of $14,000.) Brittany has received five years of full funding from the feminist studies program and graduate school to complete her research degree.

Paul Maitland-McKinley

  • Paul Maitland-McKinley was accepted and admitted into five graduate programs: University of California-Berkeley, University of Washington-Seattle, The George Washington University-Medical Center, SUNY-Buffalo-Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and the University of Rochester.

    Paul has decided to attend the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health on a ful- ride offer. His education will be funded by the School of Public Health and Graduate Opportunity Program (GOP) inclusive of tuition, fees and stipend totaling approximately $40,000 for the next two years.

For summer 2009 one McNair Scholar has been accepted at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, to continue developing her research and work alongside an internationally respected social psychologist:

Amy Westmoreland

  • Amy Westmoreland applied and was successful in competition for a placement in the University of Minnesota Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP). SROP offers outstanding undergraduates, underrepresented in their field of study, the opportunity to conduct intensive research across a variety of disciplines. The goal is to prepare students for advanced studies in a Ph.D.-granting program. SROP offers first-hand exposure to the graduate school experience and faculty life through mentor-guided research. Students work under faculty mentorship either on an individual basis or as part of a research team. Research teams also may include graduate students, research scientists and other SROP students.

Just yesterday, one McNair Scholar and her faculty mentor were informed that their research paper had been accepted for publication in an international refereed journal – a rare distinction for an undergraduate student:

Fushcia-Ann Hoover

  • Fushcia-Ann Hoover and Dr. John Abraham, associate professor in engineering, co-wrote a paper based on their McNair research project, titled "A Comparison of Corn-Based Ethanol with Cellulosic Ethanol as Replacements for Petroleum-Based Fuels, A Review," that has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Sustainable Energy. This publication is forthcoming.

    Hoover, who will graduate this fall with a degree in mechanical engineering, is preparing applications for admission to graduate engineering and policy programs at top schools. Several McNair Scholars will attend national conferences across the United States. Some have presented or will present their research at these conferences.

One hallmark of the St. Thomas McNair experience is collaborative inquiry, which provides one way to help a faculty member deepen his or her understanding about their own practice or the student's learning with shared understanding. The main focus of collaborative inquiry is student learning. Working cooperatively in groups can help students connect learning with experience and build relationships at the same time. This philosophy has resulted in scholar or scholar-mentor presentations over the past year at juried McNair conferences or discipline-specific conferences related to the focus of the research project.

Clemon Dabney

  • Clemon Dabney's research project, titled "How Early Exposure to Light Changes Retinal Input to Select Subcortical Regions of the Brain That Affect Sleep in the Albino Rat," was accepted for presentation at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Seattle, Wash. Dabney, accompanied by faculty mentor Dr. J. Roxanne Prichard, will present his research in June. Dabney also will attend a series of symposiums during the meeting related to human circadian rhythms, sleep in the development of the brain, and neurobiological correlates of insomnia.
  • Fushcia-Ann Hoover's research project listed above was accepted at the Clean Tech Conference in Houston, Texas, and at an international conference in Canada. Hoover, accompanied by her faculty mentor, Dr. John Abraham, presented their research this month in Houston.

Ali Ngasa

  • Ali Ngasa's research project, titled "Promoting Foreign Commercial Investment in South Africa" was accepted for poster presentation at the University of Washington-Sea
    ttle's McNair Scholars annual conference. Ngasa presented this month and received favorable reviews for his presentation.
  • Amy Westmoreland presented her research project, titled "A Qualitative Analysis of Asian-American Attitudes Toward Interracial Romantic Relationships," at the University of California-Berkeley's McNair Scholars annual conference in August 2008. She also had the opportunity to visit the Stanford University and UC-Berkeley psychology departments where she met with faculty members conducting research in her interest areas.

Kate Romens

  • Kate Romens attended a conference on "The Culture of Life vs. The Culture of Death: From Humane Vitae to Cloning and Assisted Suicide" in September 2008 in Washington, D.C. In addition, she visited her top two graduate schools of choice: John Paul II and Catholic University. During her college tours she met with professors, graduate school admissions representatives and students, and she attended classes.
  • Mai Cha Vang will attend the American Psychology Society conference in San Francisco, Calif., with mentor Dr. Jean Giebenhain this month. Vang also will meet with graduate faculty and students in the psychology program at San Francisco State University during her visit. A recent recipient of a Young Scholars award totaling $4,000 plus housing from UST's Undergraduate Research and Collaborative Scholarships (URCS), she will continue developing her research this summer. Mai Cha Vang

    In addition, Vang won the 2009-10 undergraduate fellowship for research she will conduct on topics related to girls or women. Her topic is "Plastic Surgery and Westernized Beauty: Women in South Korea." Her faculty adviser for this project is Dr. Britain Scott.

These success stories are only the tip of the iceberg. All McNair Scholars have been transformed by the awesome intellectual and professional development opportunities with which they've been engaged this past year.

 We continue to be excited about the future progress of all McNair Scholars as we welcome Cohort 2 to summer 2009.

Members of Cohort 2 include:

  • Sophia Benick, University of St. Thomas
  • Sahr Brima, University of St. Thomas
  • Jennifer Dada-Samuel, University of St. Thomas
  • Nkayo Drepaul, Macalester College
  • Ariel Gittens, Concordia College-St. Paul
  • Nina Haider, University of St. Thomas
  • Mohamed Hussein, University of St. Thomas
  • Melvina Ketter, College of St. Catherine
  • Pauleen Le, University of St. Thomas
  • Demar Lewis, University of St. Thomas
  • Erin McDonald, College of St. Catherine
  • Lauren Miller, University of St. Thomas
  • William Montes, University of St. Thomas
  • Sean Navin, University of St. Thomas
  • Isaac Palma-Zamora, University of St. Thomas
  • Jeremy Paynes, University of St. Thomas
  • Bereket Worku, University of St. Thomas

A special thank you to Ms. Cynthia Fraction and Ms. Eliel Gebru for all their hard work in assisting our young scholars and moving my vision for the McNair Scholars Program at St. Thomas forward. I also thank all faculty, staff and community members who have been unwavering supporters of this program.