Westminster Announces 2008 McNair Scholars
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Krista DeAngelis (801) 832-2682
Nov. 12, 2008
SALT LAKE CITY– The path to a doctoral degree is by no means easy. For low income, first generation and underrepresented students it can be especially challenging, but the McNair Scholars Program assists motivated young scholars to attain their dreams.
“The McNair Scholars Program works with undergraduates who would like to pursue graduate studies,” said Mary Jo Hinsdale, McNair Program Director. “Ultimately, we hope our participants will become tomorrow’s professors and will increase faculty diversity in colleges and universities across the country.”
The Westminster College McNair Scholars Program is the only program of its kind in Utah and draws students from three campuses: Westminster College, Salt Lake Community College and the University of Utah. Scholars receive a variety of program benefits, including research opportunities, faculty and research mentorship and graduate program application assistance.
Westminster is pleased to announce the following 2008 McNair Scholars. These students have been selected because of their academic achievement, focus and eagerness to excel in their chosen fields.
Jayci Robb, Park City, Utah
Robb is an undergraduate clinical psychology student at Westminster College. She works hard at maintaining a high GPA, participating in Psi Chi (the psychology honors society) and volunteering in the community. She plans to graduate in the fall of 2009, after which she will go on to pursue a PhD in counseling psychology. With this degree, Robb wants to provide counseling to individuals with disabilities and their families.
Erika Rodriguez, Houston, Texas
Rodriguez is a sophomore in the Westminster College Honors Program. She is double majoring in English with a creative writing emphasis in Spanish, and is minoring in French. Her other academic pursuits include philosophy, ethics, film and performance arts. In her work as a student activist, Rodriguez has focused on organizing and fighting for immigrant rights, most recently through an inter-faith dialogue regarding the moral issues of the treatment of illegal immigrants.
Hans Romo, Fullerton, Calif.
As an undergraduate at Westminster College, Romo is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the fields of philosophy and sociology. Of particular interest to Romo are the areas of religion, social philosophy, feminist thought and eastern philosophy. Romo is currently a hall coordinator for the Westminster College residence life staff, as well as an active member of the Westminster College Ethics Bowl Team. He hopes to combine his love of making philosophy meaningful to others and his interest in the legal system by entering a joint PhD/JD program upon graduation in June 2010.
Dina Sage, Park City, Utah
Sage is a non-traditional undergraduate majoring in arts administration with a minor in French. Her varied life experience includes being a performer, playwright, producer, painter, published poet, national lecturer and lifework consultant to individuals and corporations. Dedicated to healing through the arts and creating “edu-tainment” (educational entertainment), Sage has authored two pop musicals containing her own songs: “Violet Balloon” and “People of Peace,” and two others with French jazz/classical composer Jacques Loussier called “Sand-Chopin” and “The Confessions of Target McGlynn.” She is hoping to eventually run a non-profit arts foundation or teach at the university level.
Angela Swensen, Sterling, Utah
Swensen is a non-traditional student and single mother of two. She is grateful for the opportunity to be living her dream – that of receiving a college education. Swensen is working on her baccalaureate degree in developmental psychology, and will graduate in spring of 2010. She looks forward, thanks to the assistance of the McNair program, to furthering her education by pursuing a PhD. Her goal is to become a college professor. Currently she is working with her mentor, Westminster psychology professor Dr. Lesa Ellis, on a project with the Alliance House. Her hope is to give a much needed voice to mental illness, a voice that shouldn’t be ignored. Swensen is an officer in the National Psychology Honor Society Psi Chi, a student activity diversity chair, a student chair on the faculty diversity council and a member of the newly forming “Ally” program. She is also very active in the community as a volunteer, and is on the Dean’s List.
University of Utah
Nichole M. Garcia, Salt Lake City, Utah
Garcie is a junior at the University of Utah majoring in gendered-ethnic studies. She is a native of Utah and is proud to be Chicana and Puerto Rican. With the guidance of her family as well as her mentors, Dr. Dolores Delgado-Bernal and Dr. Ed Buendia, Nichole aspires to receive her PhD in Chicana/o Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She has a commitment and passion to give back to her community and actively participates in Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A.), Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS) and the Adelante Program. Garcia is thankful for the McNair Program, Utah Opportunity Scholars Program, and everyone who has helped her through her academic journey.
Dacia Lea Holliday, Murray, Utah
Holliday is an undergraduate at the University of Utah, and is pursuing a double major in creative writing and gender studies. She is involved with the Honors Program and the Service-Learning Scholars Program, and works as a writing consultant with the University Writing Center. As a member of the Navajo Tribe, she finds student activism an important part of her academic and personal experience, and she is the vice president of the Inter-Tribal Student Association at the University of Utah. Her biggest inspiration is her son, Leo.
Vanesa Richards, Argentina
Richards is a student at the University of Utah pursuing a bachelor’s degree in international business with a minor in Latin American studies. She will graduate in spring 2010 and plans to continue onto graduate school where her education will focus on the economy of Latin America countries. She is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and her name is on the National Dean’s List. She is planning to complete an internship in Bolivia. She was born in Argentina and speaks Spanish fluently.
Salt Lake Community College
Benson Stevens, Moab, Utah
When Stevens turned 18 years old, he traveled around the United States on and off over the next seven years. During this time, he volunteered with a traveling kitchen that fed homeless people for a year and a half. Benson started his college career at the Community College of Vermont. However, he came back to Utah where he continued his education at Salt Lake Community College and became a member of the international honor society of two year colleges, Phi Theta Kappa. With the gracious help of the McNair program, Benson transferred to Westminster College this fall, and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience.
About the McNair Scholars Program:
The McNair Scholars Program is named for Ronald E. McNair, an African-American physicist and NASA astronaut who died in the Challenger explosion in 1986. After his death, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. Dr. McNair set high standards for himself, and dared to make his dreams come true. The program that bears his name is dedicated to the success of low income, first generation college students and students from underrepresented groups who aspire to graduate studies. The Westminster College McNair Scholars Program is funded at approximately $341,000 yearly. Of this amount, $231,000 (68%) is an annual grant from the U. S. Department of Education. Westminster College provides the remaining 32% by contributing over $110,000 of support each year.
For more information on the Westminster McNair Scholars Program, visit http://www.westminstercollege.edu/mcnair.
About Westminster College:
Westminster is a nationally recognized, comprehensive liberal arts college. With a broad array of graduate and undergraduate programs, Westminster is distinguished by its unique environment for learning. Westminster prepares students for success through active and engaged learning, real world experiences and its vibrant campus community. Westminster’s unique location, adjacent to the Rocky Mountains and to the dynamic city of Salt Lake, further enriches the college experience. For more information, visit www.westminstercollege.edu.