The McNair Scholars Program is named in honor of Ronald Erwin McNair, a renowned laser physicist and astronaut. The son of an auto mechanic from South Carolina, he marched on never looking back in the face of poverty and prejudice to become a magna cum laude graduate from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1971 and continued his march to receive his doctorate in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976 at the young age of 26.
Dr. McNair was married to Cheryl who gave him a son and a daughter. Music was his love and he could play the saxophone eloquently. He also had a fifth-degree black belt in karate.
In January 1986, Dr. McNair died tragically in the space shuttle Challenger. In honor of a great man, the U.S. Congress created the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education. The program is designed to increase the number of students in doctoral programs from low-income first generation students and groups that are underrepresented
Dr. Ronald E. McNair is an achiever, who set high standards for himself. He had an impossible dream and he made it happened, he says,
“Before you can make a dream come true, you must first have one”.
He had one, he did it, and so can you.