UWS Scholarship Remembers NASA Shuttle Accident Victim

The University of Wisconsin–Superior has a scholar program named after the memory of Dr. Ronald McNair — an astronaut that was killed on the NASA space shuttle Challenger. The program held an event Thursday to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the shuttle accident.

After Dr. McNair’s untimely death, his family, the U.S. Department of Education, and Congress, came together to start the McNair Scholars Program in his memory. Students, who are accepted into the program, have to complete an intense summer research program, graduate record examination prep, and graduate school admissions prep.

Dr. Marsha S. Francis, Director of McNair Scholars Program says, “Every year we have a different number of applications, it would range between 20 and 30, sometimes a little more than that. And out of that we choose twelve students that we can pay for the following summer.” 

I got to speak with one of the students who has already been accepted into North Dakota State University’s PhD program.

Jasmin Farmakes, a forensic chemistry student at UWS, has received an early acceptance letter to NDSU, and it’s all thanks to the help she received during her time in the McNair Scholars Program. 

Jasmin Farmakes said, “I came from a really poor background and everyone always told me that I wouldn’t really have a shot in life. For me it’s the opportunity to get to go to grad school that I probably would have had a much harder time with, because no one in my family had a chance to go to grad school.”

During today’s commemoration, Jasmin received a gift for all her hard work and future successes. She is a true role model for all students looking to get into the McNair Scholars Program.

Jasmin Farmakes also said, “It’s just great people trying to help; you know they’re just really improving the community by doing this. Giving people the opportunity to go get higher education where they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity.” 

Students served are low income and first generation college graduates, or are from a group that is underrepresented in graduate school, such as African Americans, Native Americans or Hispanics.

There are about 152 programs nationwide and the McNair family continues to stay involved in every one. The 168 students who have participated in the McNair program have graduated with a bachelor’s degree, of those, 58 have completed a master’s program or PhD program and 31 are currently enrolled in master or PhD programs.

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