Three UCF Scholars Win NSF Graduate Fellowship

Posted by on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 17:54 - 0 Comments

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In April of 2012, three McNair scholars from the University of Central Florida (UCF) were awarded the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships. The three scholars were among only 2,000 students selected nationwide to receive the award.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. The program’s purpose is to ensure a diverse population among the scientific and engineering fields. Benefits include a three-year annual stipend of $30,000, a $10,500 annual cost-of-education allowance, international research and professional development opportunities and access to TeraGrid supercomputing facilities.

The three scholars awarded the fellowships represent a wide variety disciplines.  Elise Hernandez is starting her second year in the Developmental Psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan. Lilian Milanes, who graduated this year, will be starting her Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Kentucky. Christina Restrepo is completing her Masters in Science Education at UCF and will be applying to Ph.D. programs in the fall.

The scholars credited the McNair program for their success. When asked how the program assisted them, each of the scholars emphasized the importance of the personal and technical support the program provided.

Milanes explained that without McNair, she “wouldn’t have even applied” and that she was encouraged by UCF McNair director, Michael Aldarondo-Jeffries, to submit an application during her senior year for the experience of participating in the process.

Restrepo appreciated the endless support she received from the McNair program and her mentors. “If it wasn’t for McNair, I would not be where I am today. I would not be pursuing a Ph.D., and I surely would not have applied for the NSF Fellowship”.

Just a year earlier, Hernandez was recognized last year with honorable mention.  She explained that “more than anything else, the McNair Program connected me to a network of fellow scholars, professors, and researchers who were willing to give me advice and guidance in the form of mentoring, research experiences, and emotional support.”

Since 2007, nine University of Central Florida McNair scholars have been awarded NSF fellowships and four scholars have received honorable mentions.

UCF McNair Scholar Winners:

  • Lilian Milanes, University of Central Florida (2012)
  • Christina Restrepo, University of Central Florida (2012)
  • Elise Hernandez, University of Michigan (2011)
  • Rene Diaz, Georgia Tech University (2010)
  • Keon Vereen, University of Washington (2010)
  • Anamary Leal, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (2010)
  • Robert Miguez, University of Michigan (2009)
  • Melonie Sexton Williams, Vanderbilt University (2009)
  • Enrique Ortiz, University of Central Florida (2007)

UCF McNair Scholar Honorable Mention Awards:

  • Elise Hernandez, University of Michigan (2011)
  • Jamie Durate, University of California Irvine (2010)
  • Keon Vereen, University of Central Florida (2010)
  • Melonie Sexton-Williams, Vanderbilt University (2008)




McNair Life