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Congressman Joaquin Castro

Representing the 20th District of Texas

Castro Announces More than $700K for San Antonio Universities

Sep 20, 2017
Press Release

San Antonio, TX – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) announced $701,999.00 of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for three San Antonio universities for first-generation, low-income, or underserved students to pursue doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. The grants are awarded through the  Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement (McNair) Program, one of the eight Federal TRIO Programs, which provide postsecondary educational support for qualified individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. The institutions receiving the funding are Our Lady of the Lake University, St. Mary’s University, and the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).

“The future leaders of our nation could come from any community,” said Rep. Castro. “All students deserve the opportunity to access education at the highest levels, regardless of where they were born or what their backgrounds are. With McNair Project funding, Our Lady of the Lake, UTSA, and St. Mary’s can implement initiatives that help more students pursue their academic dreams to the fullest extent.”

The McNair Scholars Program is funded at 151 institutions across the United States and Puerto Rico by ED. It is designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. McNair participants are either first-generation college students with financial need, or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic potential. The goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to increase graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented segments of society.

Specific grant information follows:

  • Our Lady of the Lake University: $237,544.00
  • St. Mary’s University: $232,190.00
  • The University of Texas at San Antonio: $232,265.00

Twenty-five students from each university will be selected to participate and gain preparation for graduate and doctoral programs. The grants are anticipated to last for five years.

Our Lady of the Lake’s McNair Project will provide participants with academic advising, STEM career exploration and planning, financial aid information and application assistance, graduate school admission assistance, graduate fairs and campus visitations, economic and financial literacy training, career aptitude testing and coaching, and individual tutorials, study groups, and workshops.

“Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) has a heritage of serving first-generation college students and underserved populations. The McNair Scholars Program and this grant are perfectly aligned with our values of a higher education for a higher purpose,” said OLLU President Diane E. Melby, EdD. “We are thankful for the opportunity to build on our successful McNair Scholars Program and launch even more graduates into doctoral programs.”

Participants in St. Mary’s University’s McNair Project will receive individual mentoring from a faculty member in their field, as well as tutoring and assistance in preparing for admission tests, writing the personal statement and completing graduate applications. Funding for travel to present research at professional/academic conferences and to visit prospective graduate programs is also provided through the grant.

“We’re so grateful to the Department of Education for the opportunity to participate in such a remarkable program committed to supporting St. Mary’s gifted first-generation, low-income, and minority students in pursuit of graduate degrees in their chosen field of study,” said Aaron Tyler, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at St. Mary’s. “Because of the support from this transformational program, our McNair Scholars Program staff and faculty are better equipped to help prepare our McNair Scholars through research internships, scholarly activities, and faculty mentoring to earn doctoral degrees and pursue opportunities for academic and professional leadership in our community. We are proud to be a partner in this phenomenal, transformational program.”

UTSA will use the McNair Program funding to continue its commitment to the education of first generation college students, especially those from diverse cultural and ethnic groups in the metropolitan area. Funding will go towards project evaluations and providing goals-based services to ensure that students persist in their degree programs and graduate.