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Becoming a Faculty Research Mentor

Thank you for your interest in becoming a faculty mentor to a McNair scholar!

The primary goal of the McNair Program is to provide first-generation, low-income students with the preparation they need to succeed in graduation school. To this end, the faculty-mentored Summer Research Internship is the cornerstone of the program. Click here to learn more about the McNair faculty mentoring program or see the Program’s Research Timeline. 

There are different ways to become a faculty mentor. If you have an eligible student who has shown a strong interest in doing research with you, please contact us to see if the student is eligible to apply. Once admitted to the program, the student will be given the option to select you as a mentor, providing you are available and your research interests align with the graduate school goals of the scholar. Occasionally, we admit a student to the program who has yet to find the ideal mentor. In such cases, the McNair director may reach out to you on behalf of the scholar.

It is never too early to get started mentoring a potential scholar! Most students coming to UWO have given little thought to the idea of going to graduate school. This is particularly true of first-generation students, who do not have anyone in their immediate family who has attained a bachelor’s degree. For this reason, it is extremely important for faculty to begin cultivating the “graduate school” conversation with all of their most motivated, determined students as early as their freshman year. Simple words of encouragement like “You have what it takes to succeed in graduate school/be a professor,” go a long way. Consider providing bright, curious students with a mini-undergraduate research experience by getting them involved in your own research, whether it is lab work, data collecting/entry, or archival digging. Not only will this help you assess their abilities, but it will give them a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes in academia, often motivating them to take the steps necessary to prepare for post-baccalaureate studies.

Encourage potential scholars to set up their first meeting with McNair staff as early in their undergraduate studies as possible. While students cannot partake in the paid McNair Summer Research Internship until they have earned at least 60 credit hours, they can and, in most cases, should apply well before their junior year. Potential scholars are also welcome to participate in informational sessions and McNair-related activities. These events give them an introduction to the program and better idea as to what the required commitment is, should they decide to apply. Just as importantly, early involvement in McNair provides an opportunity for students to build a strong relationship with the McNair staff, who work to facilitate the Summer Research Internship, something that takes a great deal of planning and forethought. It can also lead to the possibility for scholars to engage in two summers of research, one here at the UWO, the second either here or at another institution, increasing their chances of not only getting into graduate school, but also receiving funding.

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