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TAMU-CC McNair Scholars Program receives grant

The $1.3 million grant will go towards undergraduates conducting research.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — First generation and racially underrepresented college students at Texas A&M Corpus Christi are getting some help.

The McNair Scholars Program will be receiving $1.3 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education which will extend the program an additional five years. 

Between 2021 through 2022, 37% of undergraduate students enrolled at TAMU-CC are racially underrepresented. The McNair Scholars Program targets those students in their preparation for graduate school and beyond. 

Seniors, Rose Rodriguez and Ricky Longoria told 3NEWS that this program has changed their lives. Rodriguez stated, "Many of the things that I'm striving for, wouldn't be possible without McNair."

As Rodríguez anticipates her graduation next semester, she reflects on her untraditional path to education. "My mother is actually a first generation American, and my father grew up in a small community in Texas that is actually majority Spanish speaking," she said. "And so, they didn't really see a lot of educational opportunities growing up that were obtainable for them."

Later in life, her parents pursued their bachelor's in nursing in their forties. "That was a big inspiration for me. But at the same time, since they're nontraditional students, they didn't really know about campus life and organizations."

That was one of Rose's biggest challenges coming to college. She explained, "Aside from actually doing and completing my own independent research project with doctors, that have been my mentor. The most valuable thing about McNair is the support that you feel here."

D'Angelo Sands is the executive director of federal programs, wants to make sure every student feels supported. "We are in position and poise, to walk with them through this whole process. So, no student in this room or in this program will feel like they need to do it alone."

Some A&M educators have gone through the program themselves, like Peggy Valdes, director of the McNair Scholars Program. Valdes spoke with 3NEWS and said, "The most important part is that they deepen their understanding of their different disciplines."

The $1.3 million grant will be going towards undergraduates conducting research. "The mentor not only guides them through the research process, but also shares their experience," Valdes explained.

3NEWS spoke with Ricky Longoria, a senior in the McNair Scholars Program. Longoria stated, "Before McNair, I was just a traditional four-year student trying to finish my bachelor's degree who had an interest in graduate school but didn't have much knowledge on how to do that."

Longoria came from a low income area, a barrier, when it comes to college. "At my high school, there wasn't many opportunities either on expanding on ACT tests or getting those types of resources with tutorials." 

Through the guidance of the program, Longoria is encouraging students to take a leap of faith. "If you are a first-generation student, I know you can feel discouraged at times. But once you cross that stage and finish that that goal, you will be successful, and it will be a tremendous reward to you." Longoria added.

To learn more about the McNair Scholars' Program at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, click here.


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