LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) – With the fall semester in full swing, New Mexico State University is hoping to help more students obtain doctoral degrees.

The McNair Scholars Program, is a federal TRIO program designed to benefit students by teaching them the ins and outs when it comes to obtaining a Ph.D.

A total of 1.3 million dollars has been designated for this program..

The McNair program was named after the Physicist and NASA Astronaut Ronald E. McNair who passed away during the launch of the space shuttle challenger in 1986. Making him the first African American to fly to space back in 1984. 

“From 1963, legislation was created to make sure students of various classes, low income  first generation students, had an opportunity to access and succeed in higher education,” Tony Marin Said. 

NMSU juniors and seniors will be paired with a faculty member who will guide them to complete their academic courses to ensure they are prepared for their doctoral studies.

“We’re gonna start working with students in their first year, but really recruiting students in their sophomore, junior year, to get involved with the academic work of the faculty.

Dean of the William Conroy Honors College, Phame Camarena says the members who kicked off this grant were all first-generation college students and because he was once in their shoes, he wants to see more students succeed in higher education. 

“So to have the markon research projects for faculty, to get training on how to apply to graduate schools. It will be a comprehensive program to really help students imagine a different future using their academic skills,” Camarena said. 

Professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Science, Merranda Marin says this program will help open doors for their students, offering them countless opportunities. 

“As a first generation college student myself, I find that I am currently in spaces that I would’ve never imagined or dreamed that I could have been a part of. I want that same opportunity for my students. I want them to know that they have a voice to be heard, that they can be movers and shakers in whatever field that they are in,” Merranda Marin said. 

The McNair Scholars program will be the 7th TRIO program on campus with educational talent search programs working with middle school, and high school students. 

“Three upward down programs, that serve various communities in southern New Mexico, we have two trios students pers services which service our college base students in trying to ensure that they are retained and they graduate from New Mexico State University with a college degree,” Tony Marin said. 

The Vice President of Student Affairs tells KTSM when students do pursue their doctorate, their faculty mentors and McNair Scholars program staff will still help guide them in their careers.

If you’re interested and know you’ll qualify for the McNair Scholars program at NMSU, sign up here as it starts October 1.  

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