Westminster Receives $924K Grant to Help Underrepresented Students
October 5, 2007
Four-Year Grant Extends the only McNair Scholars Program in the State
The pursuit of achieving a graduate or doctorate degree can be daunting for many, especially for underrepresented or first generation scholars who may not have a clear path or role model to follow.
Westminster College is trying to remedy that.
Last week, the Department of Education officially awarded Westminster a four-year, $924,000 grant for the McNair Scholars Program, a federally-funded graduate school preparation program that focuses on low-income, first generation college students and those who are members of a group that is underrepresented in graduate education (Native American, Hispanic, African American or Pacific Islander). By encouraging and supporting qualified students through undergraduate school and the transition to graduate study, the ultimate goal is to increase faculty diversity in colleges and universities.
“The Westminster College McNair Scholars Program is the only program of its kind in Utah, and primarily serves three campuses in the area, including Westminster College, Salt Lake Community College and the University of Utah,” said Mary Jo Hinsdale, McNair Program Director. “This year’s award marks the second grant for the program, which has served 57 scholars since 2003.”
This year’s McNair Scholars were selected from an application pool of 48, which was narrowed down to 15 for interviews, and eventually eight were selected. The following is a list of the newest McNair Scholars for Fall 2007:
Sutton Charity McCraney, a Utah native, was born in 1987. She is currently a sophomore at Westminster College where she’s pursuing a Bachelor’s of Arts in English with a minor in sociology. Sutton is a self-motivated young woman with a heart as big as her dreams. When she’s not in class, Sutton is an active member of Circle K and Theatre Society. She also works in the admissions office and holds an internship position for the “Fortune 500” company Amcol International. Her plan is to receive a PhD in English with an emphasis on African-American Literature. Another aspiration of hers is to own a greeting card business and host a talk radio show.
Emma Joseph immigrated from Nuneaton, England to South Jordan, Utah in January 1996. Currently she is an undergraduate at Westminster College pursuing a B.A. in English literature with a minor in gender studies. She plans to graduate in 2009 and then commence a doctoral program the following year. After attaining her PhD, she wishes to teach in Africa for two years and then return to the U.S., ready to motivate and prepare underrepresented and first generation students to further their education. Emma believes there is nothing in life more rewarding than education, diversity and giving back to one’s community.
Natasha Khan was born and raised in Taylorsville, Utah. She is a sophomore at Westminster College studying chemistry. She has been balancing her academics, work and community service, and was on the Dean’s List her entire freshman year. She is a member of the American Chemical Society and has volunteered for National Chemistry Month events. She is also a talented artist who has used her artistic abilities to volunteer for the Utah Foster Care Foundation Chalk Art Festival at the Gateway Mall where she was a featured artist and won an award for Artist to be Featured in a Gallery or Art Show.
Patricia Yanez was born and raised in Argentina. She immigrated to Utah alone in June 1997 at the age of 28, and started her own family in Salt Lake City. After three years in a program focusing on English as a second language, Patricia enrolled as a student at Salt Lake Community College. She graduated with an A.S. degree with honors and is now a senior at Westminster College majoring in Spanish (a contracted major) and teaching with a minor in math. Patricia has succeeded in balancing her responsibilities as a wife, mother of two children, and student while working as a teacher’s aide in the Department of Spanish. She expects to graduate in Fall 2008 and will continue on to pursue a PhD.
University of Utah:
Chad Golsan is a senior at the University of Utah majoring in classics. He began his collegiate career at Weber State University where he earned an AA with honors. Upon transferring to the University of Utah to pursue the study of classical languages, he was involved in a “Think Tank on the Quality of Life.” This year he is a member of the Student Advisory Committee for the Department of Languages and Literature, and is teaching Latin at a local private high school. Chad plans to attend graduate school next fall to pursue his PhD in the study of ancient love poetry, and intends to teach ancient languages and literature at the university level.
Christina Smith is a third-year student majoring in chemical engineering at the University of Utah, and expects to graduate in 2010. As an active member of the Society of Women Engineers, she helps promote women in science to younger girls through volunteer work. She hopes to be an example to underrepresented girls interested in science by continuing on to graduate school and staying involved with the community. After graduating from the University of Utah, she will pursue her PhD in chemical engineering with an emphasis on environmental study. She is currently working on a research project that looks at the potential of taking municipal solid waste and converting it into useful forms of energy.
Carla Martina Suarez is an undergraduate at the University of Utah, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in health promotion and education. Throughout her undergraduate career, Carla has balanced school, campus involvement, and activism within the Latino community, while maintaining her position on the Dean’s List. Carla plans on pursuing a MD/PhD, with an emphasis in pediatrics and public health. Her research interests focus on health care disparities in relation to underrepresented populations. Carla is grateful for her family, peers, mentors and the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program for their support.
Weber State University:
Seleste Sanchez is the first McNair Scholar from Weber State University. She is currently a senior majoring in anthropology with a minor in Spanish. She works on an ethnonolgy project in the open air markets of Mexico, and is currently looking at the effects of globalization on those markets. Seleste serves as the president of the Anthropology Club. She also works for the Educational Talent Search Program, which encourages youth to pursue higher education. She believes strongly in education and multiculturalism. Seleste is a non-traditional student and the proud mother of three children. Her plan is to pursue a PhD in anthropology with the help of the McNair Scholars Program following graduation.
McNair Scholars have a strong sense of what the program can do for them.
“I was thrilled to find out that I made it in the program,” said Natasha Khan, Westminster sophomore. “It made me feel good knowing that I have an opportunity to pursue graduate work, and I know the McNair program will give me the guidance I need to succeed.”
In addition to the newly admitted scholars, Westminster has 19 former McNair Scholars in graduate programs across the country and one in the Netherlands: 12 new or continuing doctoral students, six in Master’s programs, and two in professional programs. Students attend prestigious schools such as Harvard, University of California at Berkeley, Texas A & M, Northwestern, and U.C. San Diego.
The McNair Scholars Program is named for Ronald 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.
For more information on the Westminster McNair Scholars Program, visit http://www.westminstercollege.edu/mcnair .
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 enrich the college experience.