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2022 TRIO Day Recognition

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire McNair Program is celebrating exemplary scholars and their achievements in recognition of TRIO Day on March 30th, 2022. TRIO includes federally funded outreach and student services programs, including the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, Upward Bound, Student Support Services, and Educational Opportunity Centers. These initiatives allocate supplemental resources and guidance to first-generation college students, students from restricted-income families, students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and students with disabilities to confront social and cultural disparities within education in the United States.

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire McNair Program would like to recognize a few exceptional TRIO students that represent the values and mission of the organization.

The UW-Eau Claire McNair Program presents Miranda Ricci from cohort 23 with the Newcomer Award. The Newcomer Award recognizes students for displaying outstanding academic and leadership potential as a new participant in the UW-Eau Claire McNair program. 

Miranda Ricci Major: Organizational Communication

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Nicole Schultz

Miranda is currently researching how McNair scholars perceive their experiences in college as they pursue graduate school. As a first-generation college student, she was inspired to gather first-hand experiences from historically underrepresented populations. She is currently an intern at the Dean of Students Office. Additionally, she is a Campus Ambassador and has been involved in student government on both the UWEC and the UWEC—Barron County campuses. After graduation, Miranda is hoping to pursue a PhD program in order to become involved in student affairs and/or higher education management.

The UW-Eau Claire McNair Program recognizes a scholar from cohort 23 with the Achiever Award, Courtney Westlund. The Achiever Award is given to exceptional students characterized by high academic achievement, superior character, service to others, leadership, and commitment to the mission of TRIO.

Courtney Westlund Major: Chemistry

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Bart Dahl

Courtney is researching organic synthesis with focus on Biaryl Lactone molecular switches with Amine donors. She is the lead student researcher within her current research group, which aims to synthesize four new three-state molecular switches. Beyond research, Courtney also mentors for Upward Bound, is a member of The American Chemical Society, and is active within the honors student community at UW-Eau Claire. She was recently nominated for the prestigious Goldwater scholarship. After graduation, Courtney plans to pursue her PhD in organic chemistry.

The UW-Eau Claire McNair Program presents the following scholar from the cohort 23 with the Dedication Award, Sandra Prickett. The Dedication Award is given to students that demonstrate great dedication and persistence in their academic work.

Sandra Prickett Major: Biochemistry/Molecular Biology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Michael Walsh

Sandra is researching the use of Raman and surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy with 3D tissue cultures. Specifically, her research focuses on trying to deduce the presence of grayanotoxin in alcohol extract of Monotropa uniflora. Outside of her studies, she participated in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at the University of Georgia, which she was accepted into as a freshman. After graduation, pursuing PhD programs that offer exemplary tissue engineering opportunities.

The UW-Eau Claire McNair Program presents the following scholar from the cohort 22 with the Pacesetter Award. This award recognizes students who exhibit superior leadership by extensive involvement and outstanding service to their school, community, or profession.

Cliff Hayes Major: Comprehensive Criminal Justice

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jason Spraitz

Cliff is researching carceral firefighting programs. Specifically, he is interested in how rehabilitation functions within these programs and how future employment within firefighting may be impacted. Outside of his research, Cliff is active within Campus Ambassadors and the Wisconsin Army National Guard. After graduation, Cliff hopes to become a tactical air control party within the Air Force Special Warfare unit, and then attend law school after service.

The UW-Eau Claire McNair Program recognizes Dr. Catherine Chan with the Friend of TRIO Award. This award recognizes faculty who contribute to the McNair Program with their involvement, commitment, and mentorship.

Dr. Catherine Chan, ORSP

Program: Biochemistry Molecular Biology

Dr. Catherine Chan holds a doctorate in cell and molecular biology as well as a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, both from UW-Madison. Dr. Chan is currently the Executive Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs here at UW-Eau Claire.

Dr. Chan is being honored with this award due to her deep commitment to the program and its scholars. Mentoring has always been a huge part of her work in academia. She has officially mentored over two dozen students in her research group, and many more through less structured interactions. She states that some of her best experiences have been with McNair Scholars. As a mentor, Dr. Chan strives to provide guidance and coaching, especially to those who come from marginalized and historically excluded backgrounds. She holds a firm belief that everyone who

is in higher education should carry out their work through an equity and inclusion framework, and in mentoring McNair scholars she has been able to contribute towards this effort immensely.