The UCF McNair Scholars Program is designed to assist first generation and low-income students, and groups underrepresented in graduate education in gaining admission to graduate programs leading to a doctorate. Of the 169 students who have participated in the McNair program since its inception, 53% identify as Latino. Approximately 53% of Latino students who enter UCF intend to attend graduate school, however only 14% have applied or been accepted into graduate programs by the time they graduate. McNair Scholars works to improve those rates by offering students guidance and support in identifying UCF research mentors, applying to external summer research programs, developing presentation skills, articulating their research interests, navigating the graduate school and fellowship application process, and preparing for the graduate school experience. Scholars receive individual advising, participate in McNair Seminars, and are provided with peer, graduate, and faculty mentors. Scholars also travel to various graduate schools and attend research conferences. Armed with an internal/research agenda (through summer research), scholars have a layered research experience and extensive networks. Scholars identify familial connections that serve as support systems throughout their journey to the doctorate, and articulate the impact the doctorate will have on themselves, their family, and their community.
The mission of McNair Scholars is to increase the number of first-generation college students from low-income families and members of underrepresented groups in the nation’s professoriate. The program objectives are: 1) To promote completion of research and scholarly activities that will directly impact educational progression during each academic year, 2) To promote bachelor degree attainment rates, 3) To promote graduate enrollment of first-generation and low income, and underrepresented minority students, and 4) To promote doctoral degree retention and completion.
Of the students who have participated in the McNair Scholars program 100% have completed a bachelor’s degree. In 2016/17 UCF’s average graduating GPA was 3.22 (3.19 for Latinos) McNair Latino students average cumulative GPA at graduation was 3.54 (3.51 for Non-Latino McNair Students).
2003-2017 McNair student data:
• 89% of non-Latino students and 85% of Latino students enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program.
• 92% of all Latino participants who enrolled in graduate school have persisted, and are currently enrolled in graduate programs or have completed one or more graduate degrees. 33% of previous Latino program participants have attained a master’s degree; 7% have earned Ph.D.s; and 1% have earned a professional degree.
They collaborate with local state colleges to recruit promising students who may start their undergraduate journey at a community college, as do many Latino students. In effect, 41% of the Latino students served by the program attended a community college.