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Graduating McNair Scholars Honored

[photos] JUNE 12, 2009 | A banquet for graduating seniors who participated in the McNair Scholars Program was held in May at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to recognize their achievements.

In its 10th year, the UWRF McNair program is one of almost 200 programs at colleges and universities throughout the nation named for physicist and astronaut Ronald E. McNair, who was killed in the killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion The Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program began in 1989 as a federally funded program designed to help students from low-income and first-generation college families or from under-represented groups go to graduate school and earn doctorate degrees.

Kristy Bhend, a 2004 graduate of the biology program at UWRF, received the 2008-09 McNair Alumni Full Circle Award for receiving her doctorate in optometry from Ohio State University in June 2008.

The honorees and graduates heard from first-year graduate student Ayanna Porter, a UWRF McNair alumnus and who is in the kinesiology and sport psychology program at the University of Minnesota; Bill Campbell, director of the office of grants and research at UWRF; Connie Foster, provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs and former interim chancellor; and Njia Lawrence Porter, assistant director of the McNair Program. Mai Youa Vang, a McNair scholar from St. Paul and who works for the campus program, shared her insight as well.

Keynote speaker was Richard N. Pitt, assistant dean of graduate education and assistant professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He directs the office to enhance diversity in graduate education at Vanderbilt and is the coauthor of “Judging School Discipline” (Harvard University Press) and author of numerous articles on men’s gender role ideology and religious-sexual identity conflicts.

In order to qualify for the McNair Scholars Program, students must have a grade point average of at least 3.0, the desire to earn a Ph.D., be a first-generation college student from a low-income family or traditionally underrepresented group in postsecondary education. McNair scholars also receive help from a faculty mentor, assistance in applying to graduate school, opportunities to attend professional development seminars and opportunities to receive stipends for summer research experiences. Through the program, graduate school application fees are wavered and travel expenses to professional conferences are paid.

The 2008-09 graduating McNair scholars are listed by name, hometown, major and followed by their UWRF McNair faculty mentor:

Leah Adams, Boyceville, animal science/equine, Prof. Kristina Hiney
Eduardo Figi, River Falls, political science/international studies, Prof. Neil Kraus Lisa Hermanson, Utica, Minn., sociology, Prof. Tricia Davis Derek Husmoen, Arcadia, agricultural engineering, Prof. Robert Butler
Joshua Lambert, River Falls, sociology, Prof. Tricia Davis
Vang Lo, St. Paul, marketing communications, Prof. Phil George
Sarah Mattmiller, Oshkosh, animal science, Prof. Sylvia Kehoe
Victor Piazza, River Falls, biotechnology, Prof. Tim Lyden
Natasha Sedgwick, Hubertus, psychology, Prof. Dan Linwick
Devin Underwood, Wasilla, Alaska, physics/mathematics, Prof. Earl Blodgett
Megan Wisbar, Stillwater, Minn., teaching English to speakers of other languages, Prof. Annette Klemp
Chawntou Yang, Sun Prairie, biotechnology/biomedical biology, Prof. Tim Lyden


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