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Congress created the Ronald E. McNair Post baccalaureate Achievement Program in 1989 to assist low-income/first-generation and underrepresented minority students in the pursuit of graduate education. The McNair Scholars Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the federal government’s TRIO programs.

The program prepares undergraduates students for pursuit of a doctoral degree by providing financial support, mentoring and opportunities so they can gain research experience, academic skills and strategies, and develop student/faculty mentor relationships that are so crucial for success in higher education. McNair programs are housed at 187 Universities in the U.S. Five of these programs are in Georgia.

Trio Ronald E. Mcnair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program logo

Who Was Ronald E. McNair?

Dr. Ronald E. McNair was born in Lake City, South Carolina on October 21, 1950. He died in the Space Shuttle Challenger accident on January 28, 1986. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering physics, magna cum laude, from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1971.

In 1976, he received a Ph.D. degree in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After graduation from MIT, he became a staff physicist at the Hughes Research Lab in Malibu, California. He then joined NASA in 1978 as a candidate astronaut. During Dr. McNair eight years at NASA he logged over 191 hours in space.

That fateful day January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion took the lives of Dr. McNair, and six other crewmen: Mr. F. R. Scobee, Commander M. J. Smith (USN), Lieutenant Colonel E. S. Onizuka (USAF), Dr. J. A. Resnik, Mr. G. B. Jarvis, and Mrs. S. C. McAuliffe.

portrait of ronald in nasa uniform

Whether or not you reach your goals in life depends entirely on how well you prepare for them and how badly you want them. You're eagle! Stretch your wings and fly to the sky."

- Ronald E. McNair, PhD


Ronald playing Saxaphone in zero gravity

Eyes On the Stars

StoryCorps, an independent nonprofit, released an animation titled Eyes on the Star. The story narrated by his brother Carl McNair tells the story of how Ronald overcame obstacles in his early life and went on to become a hero in his small hometown in South Carolina.

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