UNC-Chapel Hill Inducts First Class

Posted by on Sunday, April 25, 2010 8:25 - 0 Comments

Junior Jessica Book was one of 28 students inducted as UNC McNair Scholars.

The UNC chapter of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program inducted its first scholars at the Stone Center on Thursday evening.

The program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is intended to provide assistance to students from underrepresented backgrounds, low-income families and to first-generation college students, said Joseph Green, director of Upward Bound, who brought the nationwide program to UNC.

It provides money for students and tracks them until they receive doctoral degrees, he said.

“This is a dream come true,” said Karen Roberts, a mother of one of the 28 students initiated into the program. “I’m so proud of my daughter. I feel like I just won the lottery, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”

McNair received his undergraduate degree at N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University, and earned a doctorate in laser physics from MIT. He was hired at NASA in 1978 and was aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1986 as a specialist. The shuttle exploded shortly after blastoff.

There are 201 McNair scholarship programs around the United States, funding more than 5,400 students.

The program at UNC received funding in October and immediately started recruiting and vetting candidates. Eligible students may apply on their own or be recommended by a professor.

Sophomores and juniors can apply to the program, which requires a completed form, three letters of recommendation, proof of financial aid and a transcript.

Juniors in the program will be enrolled in a research methods course this semester to prepare for a UNC-sponsored research institute for eight weeks this summer.

Students will present their research in an event called “McNair Day” in the fall, which, Green said, will hopefully inspire more students to apply for the program.

Students are excited to continue their educations after UNC.

“The program makes me able to pursue a post-graduate education,” said junior scholarship recipient Micah Caldwell. “I’m really interested in seeing what McNair has for me in the future.”

-Article originally posted by Davis Wilbur in The Daily Tar Heel

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McNair Life