New Scholar Orientation
On Oct. 6, the 2007-2009 McNair scholars gathered at Wilderness Ridge Lodge for the annual New Scholars Retreat. Dr. Laurie Bellows welcomed the new cohort, noting that they were joining a select community of Scholars from across the country. She described the retreat as “an initiation into the life of a scholar and an opportunity to learn about the structure of the McNair Program and its traditions.”
Front (L to R): Rebecca Beals, Sociology; Tara Cossel, Psychology and Spanish; Adrian Soltero, Electrical Engineering; Chelsea Rivera, Child, Youth and Family Studies; and Khoa Chu, Mechanical Engineering.
Back (L to R): Jeff Belmont, Biological Sciences and Biochemistry; Joshua Alvarez, Anthropology; Kyle Jackson, Environmental Studies; Richard (Willie) Novotny, Biochemistry; Morrel (Mo) Wax, Business Administration.
Dr. Ellen Weissinger, associate vice chancellor for research and executive associate dean of graduate studies, addressed the Scholars, explaining the many reasons to pursue a Ph.D. and the joys and the responsibilities that come with earning the degree. She invited each student to don doctoral robes and explained the significance of the academic regalia.
Dr. Julie Stone, assistant professor of biochemistry, shared with the scholars her passion for research and teaching. She described the wonders of her path from the baccalaureate to graduate school through a post-doc at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
McNair scholars were encouraged to “think big” by Dr. Rick Lombardo in an interactive session to help them focus on their professional goals and how they plan to achieve them. A panel of UNL graduate students who have participated in McNair programs at other universities explained how McNair helped them prepare for graduate school.
Brian Armenta, an advanced doctoral student in psychology from California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, noted that his McNair experience helped him define his research interests and provided him with important research tools – all of which made his transition to graduate school at Nebraska easier. He also said wherever he goes across the country he enjoys support from the McNair community of scholars.
Tony Kelly, second-year graduate student in physics from California State University-Bakersfield, said McNair made it possible for him to participate in a summer research experience at UNL, where he was mentored by Dr. Aaron Dominguez. The experience prepared him for graduate-level research and led him to enroll in graduate school at UNL.
Maria Jose Herrera, first-year graduate student in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, said her McNair program helped her articulate goals for graduate education, write a good statement of purpose and complete the graduate application process.
Following lunch, the 2006-08 Scholars met with the new Scholars to share insights from their experiences with the UNL McNair Program. They provided tips on getting through the McNair Summer Research Experience, working with their research mentors and keeping up with deadlines.
The day wrapped up with presentation of the fall schedule and plans for the Scholars’ first fall session. Scholars left feeling welcomed and excited about the many opportunities McNair has in store for them.