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10/12/2012

Three Winthrop McNair Scholars Selected to Attend Prestigious Symposium

Quick Facts

 The symposium was specifically designed for students interested in learning more about graduate study in STEM fields at some of the nation’s leading research universities.
 Winthrop was the only university to represent the state of South Carolina at the symposium.
 Winthrop’s McNair Scholars program recently received approval for a five-year extension.

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Cheryl Fortner-Wood
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Three Winthrop University McNair Scholars were nationally selected to attend the inaugural Ivy Plus STEM Symposium and Workshops for Diverse Scholars, which was hosted by the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Penn., Oct. 4-6.

The symposium was specifically designed for students interested in learning more about graduate study in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) at some of the nation’s leading research universities.

The Winthrop scholars selected to attend the symposium were Destinee Johnson, a chemistry major who also was nationally selected to attend the 2012 DOW-MIT ACCESS program; Hannah Swan, a math major; and Brittany Walker, a chemistry major at Wofford University.

According to Cheryl Fortner-Wood, associate professor psychology and director of the McNair Scholars program, the three Winthrop scholars were among 95 students from across the country invited to participate in the prestigious symposium. “I am very proud of Winthrop’s McNair Scholars who presented their research alongside STEM students from the Universities of Pennsylvania, Chicago, Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Stanford and 48 other schools.” Winthrop was the only university to represent the state of South Carolina.

The three-day symposium included panels with graduate admissions personnel, STEM graduate students and graduates of STEM Ph.D. programs. Students also participated in a graduate school fair with the sponsoring institutions, toured STEM labs, listened to faculty research presentations and networked with STEM faculty, admissions staff, graduate students and peers.

The McNair Scholars program is part of the prestigious federal Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Degree Program named for the late astronaut Ronald McNair. He was a South Carolina native who went on to explore the cosmos as a scientist and NASA astronaut. The program prepares first generation, low-income, and underrepresented undergraduates to be successful in Ph.D. programs by providing research and other opportunities as well as financial support throughout the graduate admissions process.

Winthrop’s program is funded by a five-year renewable TRiO grant from the U.S. Department of Education. $220,000 in federal funding is provided each year for programming and materials that will help 30 eligible students prepare for graduate study. This represents approximately 72% of program costs. Winthrop contributes the remaining 28% of the budget with $85,000 in cash and in-kind matches (28%). Winthrop’s McNair program recently received approval for a five-year extension.

Winthrop’s McNair program has an exceptional record. In May 2012, a dozen McNair Scholars were awarded undergraduate degrees from Winthrop. They are now pursuing graduate degrees at institutions ranging from Winthrop to Wake Forest University, to Illinois State University, Colorado State University and Towson University. Also this year, four Winthrop alums and McNair Scholars earned master’s degrees at various institutions, including Winthrop.

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