Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ronald McNair, Ph.D.

Today is the anniversary of the Challenger disaster. One of the astronauts on that craft was Ronald McNair, Ph.D.

McNair had a Ph.D. in physics and was a specialist on the mission. Although McNair probably received less press attention after the disaster than other crew members, he inspired an incredible legacy. This is the Federal McNair Program. In brief, this program is designed to help students who come families who have not had previous college experience excel and get into graduate programs (the goals are actually more complex and lofty than this -- check out the link).

I have had one McNair scholar, the son of a truck driver. An excellent fellow, who is doing well. I recently had a second one accepted into the program. I have high hopes for him too. Other people should also check out whether they have eligible students.

The program provides to the student a stipend, support for all sorts of academic necessities, like books, even travel funding. It also provides amazing support for the graduate school application process. For the faculty member, there is a small amount of money, in exchange for helping a deserving student with completing their undergraduate work, completing a research project and preparing for grad school. I strongly recommend this program.

Thus, Ronald McNair has inspired something that it little short of incredible. Had such a program existed when I entered college, I would have been eligible. I was fortunate to have wonderfully supportive professors. Students of today no longer have to trust to luck.

The program that is named after Ronald McNair is a wonderful, important and powerful legacy, that makes the academic world a much better place. It provides the resources and the support to enpower the bright, but less advantaged. Without such a program, good minds would be lost to the academic world, due to economic necessities. So, rest in peace Dr. McNair, and thank you!

The CP

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