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The McNair Scholars Program, one of the federally funded TRIO Programs in TCU’s College of Education, recently received grant funding from the Department of Education for $293,243 annually over the next five years. The program supports first-generation and lesser income students who are underrepresented in higher ed, specifically graduate studies.

McNair Scholars “The purpose is to support these students and provide development and preparation for them to pursue a Ph.D. Once they finish with undergrad, they have unique skills and they’re prepared to apply and get accepted to grad school, get funding, and move on to doctoral attainment,” said LaTrina Parker Hall, director of the McNair Program at TCU.

Parker Hall said the grant is significant because it guarantees the program will be in operation for another five years. The McNair Scholars Program at TCU is one of 188 in the country.

The grant funding supports the program providing scholarly activities for participants. This includes bringing in speakers, holding workshops, graduate school visits, attending conferences, research stipends, tutoring and GRE prep, among others.

“We’re providing them opportunities to learn the skills that will help them in applying for and attending graduate school, but also skills that will support them in being successful period. Financial literacy, wellness and cultural opportunities are essential to providing a well-rounded experience for them,” said Parker Hall.

First-generation college student and McNair scholar Dezirae Rodriguez shared her experience in the program.

“Through McNair, I have gained an understanding of the graduate school application process, workshops preparing me for post-graduate finances and an opportunity to explore research… I love knowing that if I ever have a question, dream or goal, the staff in this department will go above and beyond to help me accomplish it,” Rodriguez said.

McNair scholar and first-generation college student Hayden Nguyen appreciates the graduate school preparation the program has provided.

“Through the workshops and events, I learned how crucial it is to have a good relationship with the staff members and the importance of a personal statement. The program also helps me to work on my research project with a mentor which is a good start for my research experience. I am so excited for being a returning member to get more involved and contribute more to McNair Program," said Nguyen.

Parker Hall said that the number of lower income, first-generation scholars holding doctoral degrees is very low. Parker Hall and the program’s administrative assistant, Denise Belles, are both first-generation scholars themselves.

“The most important thing about this program is to expand the number of folks who aren’t as represented in the academy so they are represented. It’s part of the larger TCU DEI mission because it’s all about providing opportunities for students who may not always be included in spaces like academia,” Parker Hall said.  

To learn more about the McNair Scholars Program and to apply, visit the College of Education website.

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