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Content Any Way U Want It!

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7 things to expect on a McNair Conference trip

McNair 10/8

The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program is a U.S. Department of Education funded TRIO program that encourages students to pursue graduate studies by providing opportunities to define goals, engage in research and develop the student/faculty mentor relationships important for success at the doctoral level.  As a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, you learn the ins and outs of graduate school and spend an entire summer learning how to conduct undergraduate research. But the real fun happens when you get the chance to present your research at undergraduate conferences around the country. 

1. Free things

Every McNair conference is fully funded; this means you pay for absolutely nothing. Transportation to all conferences are free with hotel and food provided. The food quality varies depending on location, but you do eat three times a day. You also receive complementary gifts at each conference, such as T-shirts, water bottles, binders, bags etc. 

2. Limited free time

Be ready to be on a schedule from the time you arrive until the time you leave. Your day usually starts about 8 a.m. and continues to about 10 p.m.; This time frame includes all three meals, as well as some sight-seeing and bonding. So, if you happen to go on a mid-week trip, do all your homework in advance, or it won’t get done. 

3. Very little sleep

Expect little to no sleep. Outside of your already extremely long 14 hour day, you and your cohort are going to want to enjoy the remainder of your night, so this is usually when the fun happens. This means you spend an additional three to four hours exploring the city or just enjoying the amenities of the hotel; either way you’re probably not going to bed until 2 a.m. 

4. New experiences

You’re exposed to so many new things. Since the conferences are usually out-of-state, you get to travel to new cities, meet new people and experience new cultures. My cohort has traveled to Niagara Falls, New York and Waco,Texas, and in both cities we met McNair scholars from various universities, all from different areas and backgrounds. The best part is actually presenting your undergraduate research in front of hundreds of new people. This is graduate-level work you are doing as an undergrad. How many people can say they’ve done that?  

5. Graduate school exposure

There’s always a grad fair. The point of the Ronald E. McNair program is to prepare first generation, low-income, or underrepresented students for grad school. Aside from your research, each conference hosts a graduate fair where you get to meet representatives from different universities and learn more about their programs. Depending on the university, they may or may not have your program, but it’s still important to talk to each representative and see what advice they may have to offer. 

6. Bonding with your cohort

You’re stuck with them. Aside from the summer you spend with your cohort conducting your research, you’re stuck with them for the remainder of your time as an undergrad. The program doesn’t just end after the conferences as you still have monthly meetings, classes and advising appointments with your cohort. Be prepared to spend a lot of time with them. But the best part about being in a cohort is making new friendships with people that get to experience this journey with you.  

7. Long-lasting memories

You won’t forget any of these memories. Each photo, each moment and each new person you meet is going to have a significant impact on you. Being a Ronald E. McNair scholar is an honor in itself, and it exposes you to many opportunities and resources you did not have before. These conferences teach you the skills you need to make it to graduate school and succeed in your future career. 


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