September 18, 2012
St. John’s University will receive a grant of
nearly $1.1 million over five years as the result of its selection
by the U.S. Department of Education to participate in the McNair
This is the third time since 1999 that the
University has been chosen to implement the program, which is named
for Ronald E. McNair, the NASA astronaut who died aboard the space
shuttle Challenger in 1986, and is designed to prepare
first-generation, low-income and traditionally underrepresented
students for graduate school.
“I am particularly gratified to receive this
funding to continue our program,” said Andre McKenzie, Ed.D.,
Director of the McNair Scholars Program and Vice President for
Academic Support Services at St. John’s. “The award process was
exceptionally competitive this year and I firmly believe that our
previous success with program participants was recognized and
helped us in obtaining this new grant.”
The grant will support the program over the
next five years. Twenty-five undergraduates will be selected
annually to participate. Faculty mentors help students hone their
research and presentation skills to prepare for graduate school.
Participants receive a stipend to cover research expenses and
travel to conferences.
The success of the program can be measured by
the accomplishments of its graduates. Patricia Lespinasse, a 2002
graduate, has gone on to receive her M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D.
degrees from Columbia University, specializing in twentieth century
American and Carribean literature. Godfrey Vincent, who received
his St. John’s degree in 2006, recently completed his Ph.D. at
Morgan State University and is currently an Assistant Professor of
History at Tuskegee University specializing in critical issues in
recent global history including imperialism and the decolonization
of West Africa.
“I was walking down the street the other day,
and there was one of our McNair alums,” said Dr. McKenzie. “She was
so excited. She yelled, ‘Doc, I finished my qualifying exams and
I’m a full-fledged doctoral candidate now!’ It was so good to hear
that, and to see that our McNair Scholars are still
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