The U.S. Department of Education will continue to fund UCF’s McNair Scholars program. The university will use the more than $1 million grant to help 145 students achieve their dream of earning a doctoral degree.
The McNair program, which is on more than 200 campuses, continues to increase the number of underrepresented groups attending graduate school. Students in the program are low-income and are often the first member of their family to attend college.
Since 2003, UCF’s McNair Scholars Program has served 170 students and received more than $1.9 million in funding. Currently, 85 percent of McNair students are enrolled or have graduated from graduate or professional schools – pursuing advanced degrees throughout the U.S. and abroad in a variety of majors from chemistry to sociology.
Keon Vereen, a 2010 engineering alumnus, is a McNair Scholar whose UCF experience has been transformed by the program. As a first-year student, Vereen joined EXCEL, a learning community program for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. His EXCEL experience prompted him to apply for the McNair program in his junior year. He is the first member of his family to earn a college degree. Vereen knew he wanted to study engineering at UCF; he’d been interested in the subject since high school. Vereen also knew he needed guidance to help create and follow a path to graduate school. EXCEL helped him start that process, and joining the McNair Scholars Program cemented it. Vereen is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering.
“Receiving federal funding acknowledges the strength and success of UCF’s McNair Scholars program,” said Dooley. “It will enable UCF to continue to change lives and livelihoods.”