Not everyone has a clear path to academic success.

Some of us come from disadvantaged backgrounds: We’re minorities. We’re poor. We’re the first in our families to go to college.

Getting our feet in the door of a university is hard enough. Try earning a doctorate degree.

For many, such a goal seems unattainable.

But through the guidance of the McNair Scholars program at West Virginia University, we are destined for greatness.

Through financial aid, academic advising and undergraduate research opportunities, the McNair Scholars program pushes underrepresented students toward their doctorate degrees.

We owe thanks to astronaut Ronald McNair, whose own story of triumph got us here. An African-American, McNair grew up picking cotton and tobacco in a small South Carolina town. His aspirations led him to bigger things—a Ph.D. in physics, a sixth-degree black belt in karate and a spot on NASA’s astronaut program.

His hard work did not vanish with his death aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. A few years later, the national McNair Scholars program was created in his honor. The program came to WVU in 2000, and since, more than 100 Mountaineers have benefited.

For them, the path is now clearer.

“Whether or not you reach your goals in life depends entirely on how well you prepare for them and how badly you want them.” – Ronald E. McNair



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