Washington State University

McNair Achievement Program

Welcome to the McNair Achievement Program at Washington State University

                                        Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D.

The McNair Scholars Program is a federal TRIO program funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of the Program is to increase graduate degree awards for students from under-represented segments of society.

The Program is named in honor of Dr. Ronald Erwin McNair, the second African American to fly in space. Born October 12, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina, he graduated as valedictorian of Lake City's Carver High School in 1967, and in 1971 received his bachelor's degree in physics magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. He earned a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. Dr. McNair was nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics. Selected for the astronaut program in 1978, he was the recipient of many honorary degrees, fellowships and commendations. He also was a sixth-degree black belt in karate and an accomplished saxophonist. He was married to Cheryl Moore and had two children, Reginald Erwin and Joy Cheray.
On January 28, 1986, Dr. McNair and six other astronauts died when the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff.

"Before you can make a dream come true, you must first have one."

                     — Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D., Challenger astronaut, 1950-1986

StoryCorp animated short of Dr. McNair!

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       Laura Anaya

2010-2011 cohort
 Ph.D. program, Human Development & Family Studies
 Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana

"My experience in the McNair Achievement Program provided me with the tools I needed to successfully transition from completing my undergraduate studies, to beginning my doctoral program. Working with my McNair faculty advisor for my research project was a unique experience that I would not have gotten outside of McNair. I developed skills in project design, data collection, and manuscript writing that I will forever use in my research work. In addition, the McNair staff’s support and instruction really helped me find a balance in my coursework, research goals, and my personal life."


"After I successfully completed my first year of my Ph.D. program, my graduate school advisor told me that, while reviewing my application to the program, the committee noticed that I am a McNair Scholar, and knew I have what it takes to succeed in a rigorous graduate program. The McNair Program is widely recognized for preparing students for success, and learning this made me even more proud to be part of the McNair family. "

The WSU McNair Achievement Program is 100% federally funded at $225,000 annually.
McNair Achievement Program , PO Box 641064, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-1064, 509-335-5847, 509-335-1949 (Fax) mcnair.gs@wsu.edu