All graduating McNair Scholars at Eastern Michigan University accepted into one or more graduate programs for first time in program history

All graduating McNair Scholars at Eastern Michigan University accepted into one or more graduate programs for first time in program history
From left to right: Gwendolyn Dean, Yeliani Valdez, Sam Carano, Nayeli Sanchez, Dr. Jasmine Lee, Ph.D., Demarco Johnson, Amanda Wardin, Alyssia Hence and Faith Williams. 

YPSILANTI – For the first time in the history of the McNair Scholars Program at Eastern Michigan University, every student who graduated in the fall 2017 and winter 2018 terms has been accepted to one or more graduate programs.

“I’m exceptionally proud to be involved in the lives of these courageous and determined students,” said professor Heather Neff, director of the McNair Scholars Program. “Over my eight-year tenure I have had the privilege of working with students who are going to bring about positive and lasting change in our community, our nation and the world.”

Funded by a grant from the federal Department of Education, The McNair Scholars Program aims to assist low-income and first-generation or underrepresented students in earning a Ph.D. The federal program was begun in 1989 to honor physicist and astronaut Ronald E. McNair, who died in the Challenger Shuttle accident in 1986.

Each year, the EMU McNair Program assists 36 high-achieving students, representing a range of academic disciplines. Participants engage in faculty-mentored research and receive individualized advising, funding for conference travel and the opportunity to publish in the McNair Scholars Research Journal, which has been downloaded internationally more than 180,000 times. Scholars represent each of the five colleges on the Eastern campus. Most are also enrolled in the Honors College

Over the ten-year life of the program at Eastern, 100 percent of participants who met University requirements completed an undergraduate degree, and 84 percent continued on into graduate studies. Building on that past success, this past academic year marks the first time all of the program’s participants were accepted into graduate schools of their choice – some with six or seven offers.

This year’s group includes Alyssia Hence, who graduated with a Bachelors of Social Work in April and was named the National Association of Social Workers’ Student Social Worker of the Year. Together with her faculty mentor, Celeste Hawkins, Hence published her research article “Can You Hear Us Now? Engaging Young African American Voices in Urban Communities and School” in the McNair Scholars Research Journal. She will begin the University of Michigan's Master of Social Work program this fall.

The remaining graduate placements are:

Sam Carano, University of Michigan

Gwendolyn Dean, Wayne State University    

Demarco Johnson, Eastern Michigan University

Kyana Dixie, University of Michigan

Ivan LeBron, St. Louis University

Deborah Munganga, George Washington University

Nyambura Njee, New York University

Nayeli Sanchez, The Ohio State University

Jesse Smith, Texas A&M University

Yeliani Valdez, The Ohio State University

Amanda Wardin, Eastern Michigan University

Sina Webster, University of Illinois, Chicago

Faith Williams, University of Texas, Austin

This spring, an additional three McNair Alumni—Julie Krupa (’12), Anthony Sparkling (’11), and Dara Walker (’08)—were awarded doctorates, fulfilling the McNair mission of increasing the number of students from first-generation and underrepresented communities who obtain a doctoral degree.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 20,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.




June 13, 2018

Written by:
Vee Kennedy

Geoff Larcom