Texas A&M University-Kingsville

TAMUK McNair Scholars Program

McNair Scholars Program

2023 McNair Scholars


Dr. Ronald Ervin McNair, the second African American to fly in space, was born on October 12, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina. He graduated as valedictorian from Carver High School in 1967. In 1971, he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in physics from North Carolina A&T State University (Greensboro). He received a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. His academic and subsequent career successes, dimmed only by his untimely death, serve as a beacon to the current generation of college students who, for many reasons, may feel that graduate education in general and the doctoral degree in particular are inaccessible.

Dr. McNair was nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics and was selected by NASA from a pool of ten thousand applicants for the space shuttle program. He was also the recipient of many honorary degrees, fellowships and commendations. A sixth degree black belt in karate and an accomplished saxophonist, he was married to Cheryl Moore and had two children, Reginald Ervin and Joy Cheray.

Dr. McNair died on January 28, 1986 along with six other crew members in an explosion nine miles above the Atlantic Ocean aboard the space shuttle Challenger.


The mission of the Texas A&M University-Kingsville McNair Scholars Program is to prepare and increase the number of juniors and seniors in the fields of Math, Sciences and Engineering to pursue doctoral studies. The program is named after the late Dr. Ronald E. McNair and is one of the 186 McNair programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education under the TRIO grant programs.

McNair scholars are a talented and unique group of students that, through their participation in the program, receive academic advising, faculty mentorship, research experiences, tutoring and other scholarly activities in preparation for their enrollment in graduate school.

Students who participate in the program come from disadvantaged backgrounds, show strong academic potential, and are committed to pursuing a doctoral degree. The McNair Scholars Program at Texas A&M University-Kingsville works closely with the students through their undergraduate requirements, encourage their entrance into graduate programs, and tracks their progress to successful completion of advanced degrees.

Program Description

The McNair Scholars program is made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. This grant supports undergraduate students' scholarly activities throughout the academic year and summer. Through this support, Texas A&M University-Kingsville  is playing a very important role in preparing faculty by encouraging students to pursue graduate studies.

Exposure to graduate work and mentorship programs are important for students to realize their full potential. Low-income, first generation college students or minority students underrepresented in graduate education are invited to submit an application to this program. The McNair Program prepares undergraduate students aspiring to study at the graduate level.

Program Objectives

During the academic year, students participate in activities that support and encourage high level of educational achievement. In addition, the program will also offer seminars focused on graduates school and GRE exam preparation, as well as other cultural and educational activities. Academic year activities are specifically designed to prepare juniors and seniors to be candidates for the next summer's research component.

During the summer semester, students engage in a summer research internship to complete a research project under the mentorship of a faculty member in their discipline. Scholars present their research at the annual McNair presentation luncheon.

Eligibility requirements:

Students are eligible to apply if the applicant is a TAMUK student, has at least a 3.0 GPA, and has a strong interest in pursuing a Ph.D. In addition, the following criteria must be met:

  • A U.S. citizen or permanent resident,
  • a sophomore, junior or senior (Sophomores will need to have completed 60 credit hours before they participate in the first summer component; seniors may apply to the program only if they will not graduate before the end of Fall 2024), and
  • EITHER a first generation college student who is low income, OR a member of a group underrepresented in graduate study (African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiians, Native American, or Pacific Islanders).
  • Not be enrolled for any courses in Summer 2024

Application requirements:

In order to be considered for entry into the program, the following steps will need to be completed:

  • Submit the Online McNair Scholars Program application which requires a personal statement and updated resume.
  • Request three recommendations from faculty members (two from faculty members in your discipline and one from any other discipline). While completing the online application you will be prompted to enter the email addresses of your faculty recommenders. An email will be sent directly to them to complete an online electronic recommendation form.
  • Submit the following supporting documents via document upload to the link that will be emailed to you after the application is submitted:
    • Current unofficial TAMUK transcript.
    • Copy of social security card and State ID.
    • Copy of your and your parents' 2022 income tax return from (IRS 1040).
    • Copy of academic Degreeworks plan.

Selection process:

  1. Students submit application and required documentation.
  2. The McNair Advisory committee will review applications and select prospective students for an interview.
  3. Students will be interviewed by the McNair Advisory Committee.
  4. The committee will rank and select students.
  5. Selected students will be notified via email (on or before January 2024)


The 2023-2024 application cycle will be from September 18 to November 12, 2023.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the last-minute increased interest from prospective students, the deadline for applications has changed from October 31st to November 12th.

If you have any questions please call (361) 593-2682 or (361) 593-4767 or email mcnair@tamuk.edu.

Lauren Balderas, DVM, Texas A&M University, Veterinary Medicine

Noe Benitez, JD, Texas Southern University, Law

Jacqueline Besinaiz Thomas, Ph.D, Texas A&M University, Chemistry

Jennifer Correa, Ph.D, University of Missouri, Columbia, Sociology

Natasha Croom, Ed.D, Iowa State University, Educational Leadership

Iris De Leon, DPT, Texas Tech University Health Science Center, Physical Therapy

Diamond Edwards, DVM, Tuskegee University, Veterinary Medicine

Maria Esparza, DVM, Texas A&M University, Veterinary  Medicine

Whiney Fakolade, Pharm.D., University of Southern California, Pharmacy

Jacob Galan, Ph.D, Purdue University, Biochemistry

Clarisa Garcia, MD, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Medicine

Celia Garcia Prieto, Ph.D, University of Texas Health Science Center Houston, Life Science

John Garcia, JD, Texas Tech University, Law

Jose Garza, MD, University of Texas Health Science Center Houston, Medicine

Mariana Garza, JD, Tulane University, Law

Andrea Gerla, MD, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Medicine

Laura Gerla, MD, Texas A&M University, Medicine 

Laurie Gonzalez, MD, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Medicine

Trevor Gonzalez, Ph.D, Duke University, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Norma Laurel, MD, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Medicine

Bich Nhat Le, OD, Salus University, Optometry

Beatrice Lopez, MD, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, Medicine

Tiffany Masters, MD, University of Texas Medical Branch, Medicine

Hilda Morano, Ed.D. Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Bilingual Education

Ifunanya Ogbata, Pharm.D., University of the Incarnate Word, Pharmacy

Peter Pardo, Ed.D., Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Educational Leadership

Ruben Pena, Ed.D, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Educational Leadership

Maria Perez-Johnson, MD, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Medicine

Ofelia Perez, DDS, Creighton University, Dentistry

Vanessa Perez, PHRD, University of Houston, Pharmacy

Zhanita Perez, PHRD, University of Maryland Baltimore, Pharmacy

Michele Rico, Pharm. D, Texas A&M University, Pharmacy

Gabriela Rios, Ph.D, Texas A&M University, English

Kimberley Rodriguez, Ph.D, Texas A&M University, Counseling and Guidance

Hannah Romo, Ph.D, Colorado State University, Pathology

Rosemary Rubino, Ed.D, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Educational Leadership

Israel Saenz, JD, University of Texas Austin, Law

Stephanie Sandoval, Aud.D., Lamar University, Audiology

Katie Smith, Ph.D, Texas Tech University, Philosophy

Abisola Tairu, Pharm.D, Texas A&M University, Pharmacy

Miriam Villanueva, Ph.D, Texas Christian University, History

McNair program staff

Alejandra Amaya, M.A.




Veronica Arellano, M.S.

Program Coordinator



Ronald Mcnair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program