McNair Program Celebrates Student Success

By Cheryl Reed, Graduate School

The 20th annual McNair Banquet and Medal Ceremony, held on April 20 at Banyan’s on the Ridge, celebrated the academic success of its students. The program recognized 11 graduating McNair scholars, all of whom have been accepted into graduate school and are well prepared for the next step of their educational careers. Other McNair cohorts were recognized as well, including new McNair students and Red Shirt Scholars.

The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program is funded by a federal grant that assists WSU in serving around 30 first-generation/low-income students from underrepresented backgrounds each year. The program provides students with faculty mentored research experiences and coursework focused on the culture of graduate education. Students also work with WSU McNair alumni and receive academic and career counseling. With 100% of undergraduates continuing on to graduate school, the success of the program is obvious. As a matter of fact, McNair graduates are highly recruited by graduate schools because of their academic achievement and preparation skills.

Dr. Raymond Herrera, director of the WSU McNair Achievement Program at WSU and Assistant Dean of the Graduate School, came to WSU in fall 1992 and in 2018 was awarded the WSU Faculty Diversity Award. He serves in many leadership roles at the campus, state, and national levels with a goal to provide opportunity, access, and success for first-generation and low-income college students.

“The WSU McNair Program was founded in 1998 with it first grant award, and began serving students of the first WSU McNair Cohort in the fall of 1999,” said Herrera. “For 20 years, the WSU McNair Program has served hundreds of students, preparing them for their future doctoral studies.”

Graduating McNair Scholars

Each of the McNair cohorts were recognized during the ceremony. The McNair Medal and Certificate of Achievement was awarded to each graduating McNair Scholar who has completed all the graduate preparation activities required by the McNair Scholars Program. Each of the Scholars was awarded a medal by their faculty mentor, including:

• Maria Barrera, Psychology & Kinesiology
• Misganaw Demissie, Mechanical Engineering
• Crystal Deuñas, Psychology
• Dalia Hernandez Farias, History Education
• Jude Terlona Knife, Psychology
• Leandro Marcos Lessin, Biology & Wildlife Ecology
• Morelia Maravilla, Criminal Justice & Criminology
• Eric Navarro, Zoology
• Lambert Ngenzi, Environmental Science
• Lysandra Perez, Sociology
• Jessica Puente Arroyo, Microbiology & Spanish

New McNair Scholars

When students are accepted into the McNair Program, they are given the rank of McNair Student. Following completion of several significant milestones, McNair Students officially become McNair Scholars after their first year. New McNair Scholars receive a pin to be worn at conferences and academic gatherings. New McNair Scholars include:

• Sierra Clough, Genetics & Cellular Biology
• Leonard Covarrubias, Psychology
• Zamzam Hufane, Psychology
• Anaderi Iñiguez, Human Development
• Grace Lim, Accounting
• Aracely Mendoze, Anthropology & DTC
• Kelly Ngigi, Psychology
• Yoni Rodriguez, Biochemistry & Molecular Biosciences
• Hillary Zuniga, Environmental Science & Philosophy

McNair Red Shirt Scholars

McNair Scholars returning for an additional year prior to applying to graduate school are Red Shirt Scholars. These students include:

• Blessing Adaramola, Business Management
• Diana Baldovinos, International Business & Psychology
• Veronica Garcia, Sport Science
• Nam Nguyen, International Business & Marketing

New McNair Students

Acceptance into the McNair Scholars Program includes a rigorous application process. All applicants participate in individual and group interviews and are recommended by faculty, administrators, and staff for participation in the program. New McNair students for 2019-20 include:

• Jacquelinne Herrera Bravo, Psychology & Human Development
• Daisy Mejia, Criminal Justice
• Wendy Alcantar, Psychology
• Aymee Carillo, Human Development and Spanish
• Nancy Barraza, Psychology
• Wendy Gallagher, Psychology
• Stephany Lamas, Software Engineering
• India Dykes, Bioengineering
• Zakora Moore, Civil Engineering
• Leonardo Orozco, Biochemistry
• Boris Bugingo, Computer Science
• Laailah Ali, Economics and Human Development
• Sara Mills, Human Development and Psychology

For more information about the WSU McNair program, visit, or email