Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program

Leveling the playing field in graduate studies

The TRIO Ronald E McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program is a graduate school preparatory program funded by the U.S. Department of Education and sponsored by UW-Eau Claire. Named after American astronaut Dr. Ronald McNair, the McNair program aims at leveling the playing field in graduate education and diversify the American research community by class, socio-economic status, and ethnicity.

Vision

The goal of the McNair Program is to increase attainment of PhD degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society, including first-generation low-income individuals and members from racial and ethnic groups historically underrepresented in graduate programs. At UW- Eau Claire, we prefer working with scholars who are ambitious about entering graduate school immediately after graduating from UWEC. Our hope is that eventually our scholars will go on to earn a Master's degree and ultimately, a doctoral degree.

Purpose

The purpose of the McNair program is to provide disadvantaged college students with effective preparation for research based doctoral study. Each year, the McNair program recruits up to thirteen eligible students, who become "McNair Scholars". With the help of a dedicated faculty mentor, the 2-year McNair program prepares Blugolds for graduate level studies, with an goal of a doctoral degree. McNair program aligns with the institutional mission of UW-Eau Claire and directly contributes to the university guidepost goal of closing the opportunity gap in higher education.

McNair helped me to strive for dreams that I would not have thought possible.It gave me a support system of other students who had similar dreams and goals, while also recognizing my own ideas and dreams.

Megan Schilling, '18 psychology

Why we need the McNair Program

A doctorate degree bestows monetary and non-monetary benefits that last over a lifetime. These include highest annual median income compared to lower levels of educational attainment, an unemployment rate of close to zero percent, and a life-time earnings curve that is much higher than lower levels of educational attainment, and a wide array of research and academic employment possibilities.

Despite these benefits, American doctoral recipients are heavily skewed by socio-economic class, parental background, and race/ethnicity. Less than 20% of research doctorates go to students from first generation background. More than 80% of doctoral degrees are earned by White Americans and Asian Americans. Students from lower socio-economic status, whose parents did not complete college, and those from historically underrepresented background are not receiving the benefits of earning doctoral degree and hence suffering from an unlevel playing field in higher education.

The McNair program is a micro level policy intervention that aims at leveling the playing field in graduate level education -one McNair scholar at a time. It derives its purpose and motivation from the goal of leveling the playing field in graduate level education by preparing academically talented students from low income, first generation and underrepresented background for graduate level education, with the ultimate objective of completing doctoral studies. Ultimately, as more and more disadvantaged students go on to earn doctoral degrees, they receive the stated benefits of a doctoral degree, and go on to pass on these benefits to their future generations. The inter-generational cycle of benefits of educational attainment begins with each McNair scholar.

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