Cal Poly Pomona’s Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program has received a $1.22 million grant renewal.
The five-year grant, furnished by the U.S. Department of Education, will support the program’s goal of increasing the number of students from underrepresented and low-income groups who pursue graduate degrees.
Winny Dong, program director and a materials engineering professor, says the program could not exist without external funding, which helps pay for individual student research costs.
“We do get significant support from the university, but the bulk of the funding comes from these grants,” Dong said.
During the course of the year, 28 students are matched with faculty members for yearlong research projects. Students take weekly workshops on navigating the graduate school application process. During the summer, students continue their research, go on field trips to museums and attend conferences. McNair students often bond with each other over their shared experiences.
“We are preparing them academically, emotionally, and socially for graduate work,” Dong said.
Asma Ayyad, a Cal Poly graduate and former McNair Scholar, said the program has contributed greatly to her academic success.
“I honestly wouldn’t be in a PhD program if it wasn’t for the McNair Scholar’s Program,” Ayyad said. “It taught me everything I need to know. I walked into the program knowing close to nothing about graduate school.”
The grant renewal is due in part to the success rate of the program. An estimated 20 percent of McNair scholars eventually earn a doctoral degree, compared to less than 1 percent of the overall student population at Cal Poly Pomona.
Many McNair scholars go onto prestigious graduate programs at universities such as UCLA or the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with roughly 50 percent pursuing degrees in the social sciences and humanities and the other 50 percent in science, technology, engineering and math.
For more information about the program, visit www.cpp.edu/~mcnair/index.html.