Program News

We Remember Dr. McNair

Posted by on Thursday, January 28, 2016 18:45 - 0 Comments


RMcNairAs we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the day we lost Dr. Ronald E. McNair on the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, I’m encouraged by our students who embrace his legacy while pursuing their graduate education. Ronald E. McNair scholars are thriving at institutions of higher education worldwide and Dr. McNair would be proud knowing that his efforts + accomplishments + story continue to inspire our burgeoning community of scholars. Posts being shared on social media today make my heart sing knowing that our students are excited to be traveling this path.

When you take a moment to learn about the life of Dr. McNair, it’s easy to become awed by his sheer tenacity toward his education, his work, his life. You quickly see how he jumped on every opportunity and did stuff even when he thought he might not know how. He “lived on the jagged edge of life,” is how one friend described it. And he did this no matter what it came to. Finding a way to check out a book from the library when that wasn’t an option for him at that time in our history. Learning to play musical instruments and things like karate. Spending time with family and friends. Deciding to pursue a career in science at one of top-institutions in which to do so. And then dreaming even bigger dreams of traveling in space.

Living on the jagged edge of life - for sure - is what Dr. McNair did on a regular basis.

Our McNair scholars routinely find themselves on the jagged edge of life, especially as they pursue + achieve advanced degrees in all kinds of disciplines. The road to the Ph.D. is never straight and never easy. I’m constantly uplifted by news of our scholars already achieving significant benchmarks like passing qualifying exams, successfully defending, attaining tenure-track positions right out of the gate. I’m equally uplifted by our scholars still “in preparation” and “in process” for these items but are experiencing some challenges, some self-doubt, maybe anxiousness on how this is all going to turn out. This happens for everybody and this, in fact, is part of the process. I’m uplifted by their resolve + tenacity despite the challenge. Despite bumps in the road.

The beauty of McNair is that our scholars have each other, they have Dr. Ronald E. McNair and what his life stood for, and they have a shared vision of advancing their education in order to contribute in meaningful ways through their work + life. I invite you to take a moment and listen in on a commencement speech Dr. McNair gave to the students at the University of South Carolina in 1984, just a year and half prior to his death. He talks about his journey and being encouraged by others along the way. He talks about “being enough” and “being more than enough.”

I think that hits it right on the head when it comes to our scholars and each of their journeys, no matter where those journeys end up leading to. It’s having the belief in one’s self along the way. It’s digging deep and finding the courage to keep going even when you feel like an “imposter” or feel like it’s too much. It’s celebrating the small wins along the way. Acing a test, getting excited about a particular research topic, being encouraged by a mentor who believes you can go further than what you might think you are capable of at this exact moment.

Be enough right now. Know that you are enough and know that you have it in you to be more than enough.

You are McNair. Together we are McNair. I know Dr. McNair is smiling down on all of this goodness that continues to grow everyday. It’s the goodness each of you are creating with your endeavors + interests + passion to move forward in your education.

Ronald E. McNair

Take a moment today to remember Dr. McNair and all of the cool things he did in his life. Remember that you are part of this journey, that we are here to support you and that we can’t wait to see you all thrive + succeed.

-Lynn Curry ~ Central Michigan University, McNair Director