Beloit College program helps first-generatrion students prepare for graduate school

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BELOIT, Wis. (WIFR) -- Through a unique initiative, Beloit College is making sure every student has an opportunity to earn their Ph.D.

The McNair Program helps prepare low-income, underrepresented and first-generation students for graduate school.

“The essence of the McNair overall, not just on this campus, is to diversify the professoriate,” says Program Director Dr. Atiera Coleman.

Diversity is something Dr. Coleman says lacks in higher education.

“If you don’t have that diversity, you are missing out on those perspectives of people living in the communities that we are frequently studying,” says Coleman.

Not just in schools, the initiative sparks interest in other aspects of the workforce as well.

“We are also using [the program] to diversify all areas, whether that be the government, think tanks, or even the industry. All are places where these types of perspectives can be utilized to make a difference,” says Coleman.

Jonathan Dudley is one of the 11 students involved in the program this summer.

“I honestly didn’t want to go to grad school when I first got here,” says Dudley.

As an underrepresented student, he was not sure if he had a place in graduate school. When heard about the McNair Program, he had a change of heart.

“Knowing I get to conduct my own research and get to focus a little more of what I am interested in outside of the classroom, it just was like the perfect fit,” says Dudley.

From their sophomore year to their final semester, students are conducting research, networking with professionals and discovering confidence in themselves.

“McNair has given me a lot of opportunities I would have never imagined I could have walking in the door,” says Dudley.

“The students are brilliant. They just need the right financial support and opportunity to show that,” says Coleman.

The McNair Program is a national initiative. Beloit College is one of the few private liberal arts institutions with this program.