In November, UNCG named the second cohort of McNair scholars, and 19 students were inducted into the UNCG Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Program, a federal TRiO program funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The new cohort includes representation from every school at UNCG and 17 departments.

The goal of UNCG-McNair is to diversify faculty demographics across the nation by providing experience and training to students typically under-represented in the academy. Designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies, UNCG-McNair includes a wide variety of guided research opportunities, including a special interdisciplinary research methodology course, direct mentorship from research librarians, and the UNCG-McNair Summer Research Institute. As part of the Institute, the McNair scholars visited Washington, D.C., where they conducted research at the Library of Congress.

The research opportunities have not only given the McNair scholars access to the world of academia, but also a research community among their peers.

Senior McNair scholar McKayla Bohannon giving the keynote address at the induction ceremony.
Senior McNair scholar McKayla Bohannon giving the keynote address at the induction ceremony.








Junior McNair scholar Asia Brannon pinning new McNair Scholar Antoiné Cunningham as a recognition of her membership.

“The McNair Scholars program has given mea community to belong to that I will be a part of for life,” said senior psychology major Ariana Watkins. “My mentors have been wonderful and have really helped me a lot. I almost didn’t apply for the program because I didn’t think I was good enough,  but this program has taught me that I am good enough.” Watkins plans to pursue graduate study focused on wrongful convictions and jury decisions.

Watkins’ faculty mentor, Associate Professor in Psychology Gabriela Stein admired her mentee’s ability to develop a rigorous methodology and include real-world applicability in her research.

“Our meetings were lively, fun, and engaging,” said Stein. “Watching Ariana develop as a scientist as she has refined her methodology and questions based on her initial pilot results has been inspiring.” The McNair Scholars program aligns with one of Stein’s main goals as a researcher and educator, which is to diversify science.  “Because diversity strengthens psychological science, as a mentor, I endeavor to foster scientific self-efficacy in all my students so that they can significantly contribute to our field,” she said.

Several McNair scholars presented their research at national conferences during the fall, and more than half of the scholars are applying to graduate programs. Alyssa Sanchez has been accepted to the UNC Chapel Hill School of Pharmacy and Nicholas Smurthwaite is enrolled in the accelerated MA program in the English department at UNCG.

Scholars reciting the McNair Pledge
The scholars reciting the McNair Pledge.
Scholars reciting the McNair Pledge
The scholars reciting the McNair Pledge

“I continue to be impressed by the students in the McNair Scholars program,” said Director in the Office of Federal TRiO Programs and director of UNCG-McNair Kara Baldwin. “Last year, I watched the first cohort of scholars develop their research interests and add their voices to conversations around critical topics. This new cohort seems as invested in making an impact in their research fields as well. What really sticks out to me is that our McNair Scholars are engaged in critical conversations and they want to make an impact on their community through the research they complete here at UNCG.”

“After a very exciting first year, UNCG-McNair is looking to build on the lessons learned and push forward in helping students succeed in conducting research and gaining admissions to graduate school,” said associate director of the program, D. Clinton Williams.

This year, UNCG will pilot a pre-McNair program that will expose high-achieving first year students to academic research, provide students the opportunity to participate in academic skills workshops, and help students identify the various types of research opportunities available at UNCG. To find out more about UNCG-McNair, visit the website here:

UNCG McNair Pledge

I will strive to honor and respect the legacy set forth by Dr. Ronald E. McNair and former McNair scholars.

I will work earnestly toward the realization of my educational goals.

I embrace the challenge of attaining baccalaureate and post baccalaureate education through hard work and perseverance.

I strive to overcome any obstacles that might hinder my educational attainment.

I will observe high ethical, moral and academic standards.

I understand that I must be trustworthy, honorable and noble.

I commit myself to excellence, scholarship, and service.

I am a McNair Scholar!

With this pledge, I hereby accept the responsibilities and privileges of induction into the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program.

Featured Image: McNair scholars at the induction ceremony, November 26, 2018

Story by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications
Photographs by Jiyoung Park, University Communications