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New Program Supports Students Pursuing Doctorates

A program that helps low-income and first-generation students is growing thanks to a $1.6 million federal grant.

TRIO Programs at NC State will institute the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program to help students who wish to pursue their doctorates. The program, which officially begins Sunday, focuses on first-generation students, students with limited resources and students from underrepresented groups, such as ethnic minorities and women in science and technology.

“It’s been a long time coming to the university,” says Marsha Pharr, executive director of TRIO Programs. “NC State, having a historical perspective as a land-grant STEM and research institution, it means a lot to bring a program like McNair to our campus. It will serve to motivate and promote students to engage in research and doctoral studies.”

The program is designed to prepare eligible undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities, such as internships, presenting at research conferences or other opportunities. It is open to students of all majors, says Courtney Simpson, director of Student Support Services, but only for those who wish to attain doctoral degrees (except Doctor of Medicine and Juris Doctor degrees).

Simpson says the grant is an achievement for NC State and joins other valuable federal TRIO programs at the university, including Upward Bound and Talent Search, pre-college programs that help students prepare for higher education; and Student Support Services, which seeks to retain students and help them graduate.

“The McNair grant is a very competitive grant to have,” Simpson says. “There are close to 150 McNair programs across the country. To be in that number along with all of the other support services that we have with TRIO and then outside of TRIO, I think it’s an amazing feeling to be a part of that.”Students with questions about the program can email