Gannon University: Gannon’s McNair Scholars Program granted $1.3 million


The U.S. Department of Education announced $51.7 million in grants for the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achieve Program. Gannon University is among 189 higher education institutions receiving the award. The university is slated to receive $261,888 a year for the next five academic calendars to support 25 students annually.

Gannon adopted the McNair Program in 2017. The program is named for Ronald E. McNair, a doctoral graduate of laser physics from MIT. He was the first person to walk in space untethered to a shuttle and the second African American to go to space after Guion Bluford. McNair was a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Challenger and was aboard the spacecraft during the 1986 explosion, resulting in the deaths of all seven aboard. McNair received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor soon later, and the McNair Scholars Program was funded in his memory. McNair famously said, “Before you can make a dream come true, you must first have one,” and “Whether or not you reach your goals in life depends entirely on how well you prepare for them and how badly you want them.”

Gannon is one of three Pennsylvania universities to receive McNair funding, alongside the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University, University Park. Additional grant awards are scheduled for announcement later this month.

McNair Scholars Program Director, Charmaine Wilson, expressed rejuvenation at the new five-year grant period, “The fact that we can continue serving our hardworking students as they pursue their post-baccalaureate knowledge is not only another tremendous honor for us, but it also gives us a renewed purpose.”

The grant funds programs and projects to support underrepresented college students looking to continue their education through doctoral studies. Program eligibility requires a competitive GPA, U.S. citizenship or permanent residency. The program is designed for either first generation college students facing financial need or members of traditionally underrepresented groups, like students who are Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Native American and Alaska Native. Sophomores and juniors with an interest in doctoral study are encouraged to download the program application.

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