Oswego's McNair program helps students attain goals

Recent SUNY Oswego graduate Nanayaa Acheampong is now at graduate student at the University of Buffalo, thanks in large part to SUNY Oswego’s McNair Program.

In fall 2003, Oswego launched the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Scholars Program with a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education. By spring 2004, Acheampong was one of 19 students chosen as the first class of McNair Scholars. Today, she and three scholars are taking on the challenges new graduate students face.

The focus of the McNair Program is to provide experiences that prepare students for doctoral study. It seeks to increase the number of students from groups underrepresented in doctoral programs, encouraging them to pursue careers in higher education. Scholars are prepared to be successful candidates for graduate school.

SUNY Oswego faculty mentors work with McNair Scholars. For example, seniors Damian Piaschyk and Sabrina Stilwell participated in Professor David Valentino’s geology project in the Adirondacks, mapping geological formations in an area of the Tug Hill plateau. With the guidance of Professor Linda Loomis of the journalism program, Natasha Irizarry surveyed minority hiring practices of small-city newspapers across the state, interviewing editors and minority reporters.

Thirteen scholars participated in the eight-week summer portion of the program, said Dr. Robert Moore, professor of English and co-director of Oswego’s McNair Program. They prepared to take graduate school entrance exams, gathered information about graduate programs and the varying application procedures, and sorted through their options to decide where to apply.

Primarily they engaged in an extended research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor, which was supported by stipends, money for travel and materials necessary to sustain the research, Moore said.

Scholars such as Jose Valdez, Katie Atkinson and Michael Kelly worked as course assistants. Michelle Scoville exhibited her artistic work at SUNY Brockport, prepared under the guidance of art Professor Mathew Friday. Michael Smith, under the sponsorship of Professor Craig Graci, delivered a presentation to students and faculty of the information science program, on his research on cognitive musicology theory.

Newly accepted scholars are members of McNair’s second class. Plans to attend conferences to present McNair-sponsored research are under way.

“Thanks to the dreams, energy and persistence of these talented students, and the willingness of committed faculty guiding scholars’ pursuit of these dreams, Nana Acheampong’s success promises to be repeated,” Moore said.

For more information about the McNair Program, call 312-2594, e-mail mcnair@oswego.edu or stop by Room 205 of Swetman Hall.

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(Posted: Mar 23, 2005)