New Year. New Changes in McNair.
As of January 1st, the McNair Program is under new leadership. Thelma Harding (left, below) has served in the Director role since 2004, but has taken on a new position in the Graduate College, leading enrollment management. Dr. Ashley Garrin (pictured right), who has served as the Assistant Director of McNair since 2016, has moved into the Director position.
Thelma Harding and Dr. Ashley Garrin

Message from Thelma Harding
Here we are in mid-February of 2022 and it’s already been quite a year for our McNair Program! After 18 years of serving as McNair Director, I have moved to a new position here in the Graduate College as the coordinator of graduate enrollment management. My long-term role of recruiting and retaining underrepresented graduate students is now expanded to include all populations of students interested in graduate study here at Iowa State. I am excited to work more closely with our Office of Admissions and other campus partners as we all work towards encouraging students to apply to one (or more) of our more than 100 graduate programs.

McNair will continue under the very excellent leadership of Dr. Ashley Garrin, one of our very own alumni (2005 Cohort). Ashley has served as assistant director since 2017 and she shares my passion and commitment to student success. She also has an excellent team (Regine Peters, Erin Todey, and Ma-aruf Al-Hassan) of professionals who will assist her in moving the program forward. Our transition has been seamless and although I am no longer involved in the operations of the program, Ashley will always have my support as she carries out the objectives of the grant. McNair is in excellent hands!

My greatest honor was to have been asked to provide support to the program back in the fall of 2003 by my supervisor and mentor, Dr. George A. Jackson, former assistant dean of the Graduate College. It was meant to be a temporary assignment to assist the program in meeting the new mandatory objectives of the grant, but one year turned into 18 years of working with an excellent staff and great students. I will always remember the lively student discussions in our weekly classes, feeling pride when listening to our students present their research at national conferences, meeting families at our annual symposium, and most importantly, announcing where our graduating seniors will enroll for graduate school. It’s been my pleasure to work with students who always inspired me to do my very best in providing support, and to helping them find their way to becoming the shining stars that we know they are.  

Thank you for a great experience! Once McNair! Always McNair!

-Thelma Harding

Message from Dr. Ashley Garrin
The legacy of Thelma Harding's impact on McNair and graduate students at Iowa State and beyond is something that I can personally attest to. As a McNair Scholar, Thelma was my director. During those years, Thelma and her staff were transforming and rebuilding the McNair Program into the two-year format it is today and establishing many other components we still utilize. Being under Thelma's wing as a Scholar, graduate assistant, and assistant director, I have learned so much about what makes our program successful. I am excited to continue on the journey working with graduate school-bound Scholars.

-Ashley Garrin
The McNair Application
is open
for the 2022 Cohort

We are accepting applications for the Fall 2022 cohort until March 1st or all slots are filled.

If you know of anyone interested in research and continuing their education beyond the bachelor's please encourage them to apply.

Applicants must also demonstrate a:
  • Potential for graduate school
  • Strong interest in pursuing a graduate degree immediately following the bachelor’s degree
  • Desire to attain a traditional, research-based Ph.D. (McNair does not prepare students for professional degrees, such as D.V.M., M.D., or J.D.)

To be eligible for McNair at Iowa State, students must be:
  • An enrolled Iowa State University undergraduate
  • A US citizen or permanent resident
  • Classified as a junior by Fall term of entry into the program
  • Able to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the following: Member of an underrepresented group in graduate education: Black (non-Hispanic), Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaskan Native (Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders may be included in this definition) 
  • A first generation college student, who also meets specified low-income guidelines set by the US Department of Education
Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

Poster Presentations:
South Ballroom, Memorial Union

Dinner & Program:
Sun Room, Memorial Union
Highlighting Scholars' Graduate School Writing
By Erin Todey, Statement of Purpose Writing Consultant
Our McNair Scholars spend months crafting their statement of purpose (SoP), an important essay that details the applicant’s relevant experiences, research interests, career goals, motivations for pursuing a graduate degree, and fit to a graduate program. The SoP is an opportunity for our Scholars to think critically and introspectively about how their experiences have led them to this point in their academic career. Yet, while the SoP is core to the graduate school application, it is rarely read beyond a few professors on an application committee. 

Given the dedication the Scholars give to writing the SoP, we’d like to share an excerpt from one Scholar’s SoP to celebrate their experiences, voices, and commitment to the graduate school application process.
In her SoP, Karen Devora-Cigarroa, a Senior in Civil Engineering, reflects on how her personal life, research, and internship experiences have deeply influenced her desire to pursue a graduate degree in civil engineering with an emphasis on humanitarian work.
My first visit to Mexico was like a missing puzzle piece that put many things into perspective. I was fifteen years old when my family and I finally got to visit my parents’ hometown. My siblings and I had often heard about what it was like for my parents growing up there and why they risked their lives to immigrate to the U.S. for a better life. Despite their stories, it was the first time I realized the impact of the lack of simple infrastructure - running water, heat, and internet connection - and understood why so many would rather leave. That visit was a major catalyst for my interest in civil engineering and now drives my pursuit of a Master’s in Civil Engineering. (Cont'd)
Another document that is becoming more common in the graduate school application is the diversity statement. While we’re still lacking a clear understanding of how this is used in an application, our Scholars spend considerable time thinking about how they can share their experiences with an unknown audience.
Nadine Veasley, a Senior in Microbiology, has a wealth of experience in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, and given her experiences, we thought critically about how she could engage with the diversity essay in a unique way. Nadine’s diversity essay is beautifully written, and we are grateful that she agreed to share it in this newsletter.
As a black woman from a single parent household where the importance of education was instilled in me from a young age, such an obligation and weight has been placed on me to succeed. Neither of my parents went to college. Out of my 5 brothers, only 3 graduated from high school and one didn’t even make it to see 21. (Cont'd)

Read the full article here.