McNair Scholars 'solve problems, explore theories and discover through failures'

University’s second annual research symposium offered student presentations and luncheon

Twelve McNair Scholars, along with McNair staff members on each end, celebrated the close of their 10-week, post-baccalaureate achievement program with a research symposium Friday, Aug. 3, 2018.


8/21/2018 | By: Natalie Fry |

The 2018 McNair Scholars summer research program at the University of Nevada, Reno came to a close early this month after 10 weeks of team-building exercises, mentor-guided research and intense-study sessions in preparation for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

The Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program is designed to provide research opportunities and other related academic experiences that promote the acquisition of a doctoral degree.

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The federally funded program is in its 15th year at the University. McNair, the namesake for the program, was one of the astronauts who died in the explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle in 1986. After his death, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. Their goal was to encourage income-qualified, first-generation college students, and students from historically underrepresented ethnic groups, to expand their educational opportunities by enrolling in a Ph.D. program and ultimately pursue an academic career.

Kerry Durmick, regional representative with U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto's office, gave a statement during the luncheon, and Shannon Ellis, vice president of Student Services at the University, was the guest speaker.

"You ignite in us a reminder of why we entered into the institution; to solve problems, explore theories and discover through failures," Ellis said of the program's 12 scholars. "Diverse researchers help us commit to the benefits of diverse research. You make our University better and keep us moving to where we want to go."

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Maritza Machado-Williams, the program's director, wrote a note about the student scholars and their faculty mentors in the symposium publication.

"The commitment to their scholarly work, the vast diversity of scientific and other interests, and the direct and indirect outcomes of their academic inquiry are testimonials to their exceptionally hard work and will open the path to success in many forms."

Prior to the end of the summer program, students were challenged on the Project Discovery Ropes Challenge Course on Mount Rose Highway outside of Reno, found solutions at the Puzzle Room Reno escape game, and attended the National McNair Scholars Conference at the University of California, Los Angeles July 25-27.

This year's student scholars are Edward Cruz, Evelyn Hernandez, Tanner Lyon, Catalina Medina, Marc Nabhan, Valeria Nava, Celine Norman, Guglielmo Panelli, Robert Prater, Adora Shortridge, Jacob Trzaska and Lourdes Valdez. 


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