McNair Program Staff

Jeannine Slater Jeannine Slater, Director

Jeannine Slater is a first generation, low-income student and an alumni of San Jose State University where she completed her Bachelor's in the Social Sciences and her Master's in Education. She worked with the ASPIRE Program and then moved to the McNair Program after the grant was awarded in 1996. In 1999, Jeannine was contracted by the Alum Rock School District to work with district representatives and local community organizations to design, coordinate and facilitate the National Children Health Initiative Program for the twenty-five schools in the district. She developed and implemented a school based outreach that became both a state and national model for the Department of Health and the Department of Education. After being awarded the Consumers' Union Award for Outstanding Service in Children's Health and a Recognition Award for Work with the Children's Health Initiative from President Clinton she toured California's school districts helping them set up a similar model. She then joined the team at National Hispanic University as their Director of Enrollment and Undergraduate Services. While there, she implemented a new Student Academic Assistance Center through a Title V Grant, Directed the Upward Bound Program, and taught classes for Teacher Education and the Summer Bridge Program. However, her love has always been TRiO Programs and SJSU, so she returned four years ago to be director for ASPIRE/McNair. Ms Slater also has served on planning committee of the Northern California Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education for 16 years the last six as chair.


Dr. Maria E. Cruz, Assistant Director and Coordinator

Dr. Maria Elena Cruz is a descendant of the Huichol (Wixaritari ) people of Mexico, and was born in Northern California. She is the first person in her family to graduate from college and the first to receive her Ph.D. She received her B.A. in English with an emphasis on Twentieth Century Literature (from Modern to Contemporary ) Anglophone and Multicultural Studies from U.C. Berkeley (2004). Dr. Cruz is also proud to be a McNair Scholar Alumnus from U.C. Berkeley. She completed her Masters in Social Cultural Anthropology at the University of Texas Austin (2007) and a Ph.D. from the same department in 2013. Dr. Cruz is a social cultural anthropologists specializing in the anthropology of Indigenous studies with an emphasis on Mexican American and Latina/o im/migration policy and law in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Her research interests align closely with her teaching experience, which includes teaching undergraduate courses at the University of Texas at Austin for two years in the areas of Anthropology, History, Mexican American Studies, and Indigenous Studies Program. Maria also taught a two-part class on Indigenous and Mexican American History from the pre-colonial era to the 1880's and from the 1880's to the present at San Jose State University (2012-2013). Currently, Dr. Cruz is working with the McNair Scholars Program at San Jose State University as a Assistant Director, Research Advisor and Instructor, and feels blessed to be here at this particular time. Dr. Cruz loves the process of helping students apply to doctoral programs and assisting them with creating and developing their research. In addition, Dr. Cruz  loves to spend time with her family, friends and enjoys traveling.


marthatoralMartha Toral,

Administrative Assistant

Martha is a first generation student and native born San Jose, Californian. Her love of the sciences inspired her decision to major in STEM. She graduated from SJSU with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and a minor in Chemistry. Martha is a wonderful new addition to the office and has reorganized the entire program. She is awesome and we are thankful for her!