Southeast Missouri State University student publication

One spot up for grabs in 2021-2022 McNair Scholars Program

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Graphic by Brooke Holford

Are you a junior or senior first-generation college student with a love for research and dreams of attending a graduate school program? If you answered yes to these questions, you may be in luck.

A spot is available in the 2021-2022 cohort of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program; applications are being accepted for the last remaining position.

Jamila Loving, academic coordinator of the TRIO/McNair Scholars Program, said all openings for the current cohort had been filled since the program began in January. However, a spot recently opened up due to an unexpected vacancy in the program.

The McNair Scholars Program is a federal TRIO program funded at 151 institutions across the United States and Puerto Rico by a U.S. Department of Education grant, according to the university website. This grant enables the TRIO/McNair Scholars Program at Southeast to provide experience of scholarly research, graduate work and collaboration opportunities with faculty as students prepare for graduate school.

As stated on the university website, the program is “designed to encourage, support and assist academically promising juniors and non-graduating seniors who have been historically underrepresented in various segments of society to pursue education and obtain their terminal degrees.”

The program begins each year in January and continues into February of the following year.

“It’s not really typical that we have open spots at this point, but it does happen,” Loving said. “This year, we had somebody who had already been accepted, but, unfortunately, they had to drop out of the program — which just happens sometimes and leaves us with these extra spots.”

Since the McNair Scholars Program is federally funded, Loving said they’re required to have a full cohort; the application for the remaining available position will stay open until all 11 available spots are filled.

To be eligible for the program, applicants must meet all of the following requirements: Successful completion of 60 or more credit hours at the time of program entry; commitment to attend graduate school in pursuit of a Ph.D., Ed.D., Psy.D. or D.S.W.; be a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident; and be a first-generation college student — meaning neither parent has earned a bachelor’s degree — who meets federal low-income guidelines or member of a traditionally under-represented ethnic population. Loving said it’s preferred this new scholar will graduate between Fall 2021 and Fall 2022.

The McNair Scholars Program is a “selective admission program,” according to the university website. To verify eligibility, applicants must complete the preliminary application to move forward with the interview process and formal application.

The responsibilities of a McNair Scholar include attending biweekly meetings, a summer and winter research institute, travel for conferences, a community service project each semester and — what Loving described as the “main part” of the program — completion of a research project on a topic of the cohort’s choosing.

“When you’re applying to graduate school and someone sees that you’re a McNair Scholar — yes, your expectations are going to be higher, but that’s because it holds weight,” Loving said. “Research experience is good to have when you’re applying for graduate school, too, because you can get a graduate assistantship, a teaching assistantship, or you can work in one of their research labs.”

McNair Scholars are eligible to receive a variety of free program services and benefits, including academic counseling, graduate school application fee waivers and visits, GRE preparation workshops, paid research internships, all-expense-paid travel opportunities to present research at regional and national conferences and more.

These services and benefits are provided through federal funding to provide students with effective preparation for doctoral study.

A former McNair Scholar, herself, Loving has been the academic coordinator of the TRIO/McNair Scholars Program for two years. She graduated from Southeast with a bachelor’s degree in business administration: marketing and management and a Master in Business Administration: general management.

“[Being a McNair Scholar] really helped me tremendously being a first-generation college student,” Loving said. “I had never really done a research project to that extent, so I think it really helped me there, and with what to expect when I got to graduate school. [The program] also helped me with professional communication and financial literacy — things that you typically wouldn’t learn in the classroom.”

Loving said she gained something else outside the classroom during her time in the program: camaraderie with fellow scholars.

“I’m an introvert, so I never really went to the activities and things on campus; so, having the cohort and getting connected to everyone was the biggest thing for me — we actually all still talk to this day,” Loving said. “Just having that sense of friendship and family with people who are all going through the same experiences as you in the program — like everyone is confused, or nervous or frustrated — and you can just kind of connect on that.”

The McNair Scholars Program is hosting information sessions March 22 from 4 to 5 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom B and April 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the University Center Tribute Room.

To access the preliminary application or view more information about the TRIO/McNair Scholars Program at Southeast, visit