McNair Scholars Program

McNair Scholars Program

The Harding University McNair Scholars Program is made possible by a U.S. Department of Education grant, awarded for 2022-2027 in the amount of $274,983 annually to serve a minimum of 27 students per year.

PROGRAM OBJECTIVE: Provide first-generation/low-income and/or students from groups underrepresented in graduate education with academically enriching experiences and mentoring that facilitate graduate school admission and successful doctoral degree attainment.


Workshops seminars, classes, and other scholarly activities are designed to enhance academic abilities, personal skills, and the graduate school application and transition process.

Cultural activities and travel also contribute to academic and personal development.

Research internships are completed under the oversight of faculty mentors from the disciplines most compatible with the scholars’ anticipated areas of graduate study. Opportunities to attend professional conferences with their mentors, where they may meet distinguished scholars and learn more about their chosen fields may also arise.

Graduate school admission preparation specifically includes Graduate Record Examination (GRE) readiness workshops; support throughout the graduate school selection and application process; financial aid, career, and personal counseling; multiple opportunities to attend graduate school fairs and visit graduate school campuses.

Furthermore, faculty mentor letters of recommendation and research experiences listed on resumés enhance each student’s standing in the competition for graduate school admission and funding and many graduate schools waive application fees and offer special fellowships to McNair Scholars.

Participating scholars have the opportunity to earn a stipend of $2,800.

McNair the Man

Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D.

To honor his lifetime of accomplishments, the U.S. Department of Education, with funding from Congress, established the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. This program is dedicated to instilling in college students the high standard of achievement represented by the life of Ronald E. McNair.

Dr. Ronald E. McNair was America’s second black astronaut in space and one of seven crew members killed in the space shuttle Challenger explosion on January 28, 1986.

Ronald McNair graduated as valedictorian from Carver High School in Lake City, South Carolina, in 1967; graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in physics from North Carolina A & T State University in 1971; and received a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976, at the age of 26.

His academic and professional achievements were many. He was a Presidential Scholar, Ford Foundation Fellow, National Fellowship Fund Fellow, and Omega Psi Phi Scholar of the year. He was also the recipient of many honorary degrees and numerous commendations. As the first in his family to graduate from college, his academic and career successes serve as a shining example to the current generation of college students who, for many reasons, may feel that graduate school and a doctoral degree are inaccessible.



Eligible students are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have successfully completed 27 hours of college credit with a GPA of 2.75 or above and who are first-generation/low-income and/or from minority groups underrepresented in graduate education.

Program Requirements

If selected for the program, students go through an orientation detailing the requirements of the program, which include:

- participation in meetings, workshops, seminars, and other scholarly activities

- achieving and maintaining a 3.0 GPA

- completing a summer research internship under the guidance of a faculty mentor

- completing periodic program evaluations/assessments

- cooperating with follow-up surveys

How to Apply for the McNair Program

Interested students must complete the Application, which includes an essay describing academic and career objectives as well as tentative plans for research.  The student must also ask two faculty members to submit Recommendations.

Meet our Staff

Lolita Meredith

Lolita Meredith, Ed.S., LPC


Kanembe Shanachilubwa, Ph.D.
Associate Director

Meet Alumni

Ronnie Clements graduated in 2019 with a B.S. in Psychology and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University. In addition to being a McNair Scholar, Ronnie was also a member of the Beyond Professional Identity (BPI) research lab directed by Dr. James Huff. In 2021, Ronnie was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in the field of Engineering Education Research.


Dr. Kanembe Shanachilubwa graduated in 2019 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. In 2021, Kanembe was awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship among other awards and fellowships. In 2023, he graduated with a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State University.


Dr. Tessa Zuniga graduated in 2015 with a B.S. in Psychology. After leaving Harding University, Dr. Zuniga has received her M.A. in Industrial Organizational Psychology in 2018, and her Ph.D. in Business Psychology in 2023 from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP). While attending TCSPP, Dr. Zuniga was a Teacher’s Assistant, Assessment Center Coordinator and moved into an Adjunct Professor role teaching Performance Appraisal. Professionally, Dr. Zuniga has used her degrees while working as a member of the Human Resources team for a Federally Qualified Health Center in Chicago, Illinois. Her research in job crafting, engaging leadership, and work engagement has been inspired by her experience as a first generational student working to build a career in helping organizations support employee’s development and work engagement.


Austin Hayes graduated in 2019 with a B.A. in French and International Studies.  In 2021, Hayes received the highly competitive David L. Boren Fellowship to study in Indonesia for the 2021-2022 academic year. In 2022, Hayes graduated with an M.S. in Global Studies from Oklahoma State University, where he is currently an academic advisor in the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology.


We are excited to provide our scholars with a lineup of dynamic, engaging and enriching academic experiences. For information about events below, contact the McNair Scholars office.


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Activity Evaluation

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Cultural Evaluation

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Contact Us

McNair Scholars Program is part of the Academic Resource Center


Location: Student Center 219