McNair Scholars Program
Contact Us with a blue space themed blob with 3 pictures of Ronald McNair, and students

About Us

Ronald E. McNair

About Ronald E. McNair

Whether or not you reach your goals in life depends entirely on how well you prepare for them and how badly you want them. You're eagles! Stretch your wings and fly to the sky. - Ronald E. McNair

The second African American to fly in space, Ronald Ervin McNair was born October 21, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina. In 1971, he received a bachelor's degree in physics, graduating magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T State University (Greensboro). In 1976, he received his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ronald McNair, nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics, was selected as one of thirty-five applicants from a pool of ten thousand for the astronaut program in 1978. McNair received three honorary doctorates, a score of fellowships, and commendations. In addition to his academic achievements, he achieved a black belt in karate and was an accomplished saxophonist.

Ronald McNair died on January 28, 1986, in a fiery explosion nine miles above the Atlantic Ocean along with six other crew members aboard the space shuttle Challenger. After this national disaster, the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program was created in honor of McNair and to help other students succeed and achieve their academic dreams.

Program Description

The Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program provides undergraduate students an opportunity to work with a faculty mentor, explore and research in their discipline, while preparing for future graduate school enrollment.

The program is named for Ronald Ervin McNair, one of the first African-American astronauts and is designed to increase the number of low-income, first-generation students, or underrepresented students in doctoral degree programs.

The McNair Scholars Program is funded by a grant from the United States Department of Education.

Program Benefits

  • Working with a faculty mentor
  • Completing a research project and paper
  • Preparing for graduate level studies
  • Mentoring high school students
  • Receiving a stipend upon completion of internship requirements

Program Highlights

  • Individualized research projects
  • Training in the use of qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Faculty mentors
  • Research seminars
  • Graduate school application workshops
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) preparation course
  • GRE fee waiver
  • Travel opportunities to academic conferences throughout the country
  • Individualized academic and career counseling
  • Monetary assistance to visit graduate schools
  • Assistance in obtaining graduate school scholarships