About Us

Federal TriO Programs

Our nation has asserted a commitment to providing educational opportunity for all Americans regardless of race, ethnic background, or economic circumstance.

To support this commitment, Congress established a series of programs to help low income Americans enter college and graduate. These programs are funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are referred to as the TRiO programs, including the McNair Scholars program.

While student financial aid programs help students overcome barriers to higher education, TRiO Programs help students overcome class, social, academic, and cultural barriers to higher education. The Ronald E. McNair Program is the newest of these programs.

The McNair Scholars Program

The Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program at San Jose State University (SJSU) is an exciting effort designed to encourage low income individuals who are first generation college students and / or underrepresented in graduate education to pursue doctoral study.

The McNair Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, proposes to motivate and prepare promising undergraduate students for graduate study. Named for the Challenger space shuttle crew member, the Ronald E. McNair Program serves as a living memorial to a man who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to be awarded his Ph.D. in physics and later, to realize his dream of becoming an astronaut for NASA.

Ronald E. McNair

Portrait of Ronald McNairDr. Ronald E. McNair, the second African American to fly in space, was born on October 21, 1950 in Lake City, South Carolina. He graduated as a class valedictorian from Carver High School in 1967. Four years later, in 1971, he received the bachelor's degree magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T State University. He received a Ph.D degree in physics from MIT in 1976.

He was nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics. Selected for the astronaut program in 1978, he was also the recipient of many honorary degrees, recommendations and fellowships. A sixth degree karate black belt holder and a highly accomplished saxophonist, Dr. Ronald McNair was the father of two children, Reginald Erwin and Joy Cheray.

Dr. McNair and six fellow astronauts died in a fiery explosion aboard the space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986. The Ronald Erwin McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Award Program was authorized by Congress in 1986 in his honor to increase the number of college students from low income, underrepresented backgrounds pursuing doctoral degrees. It was also aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented faculty teaching in colleges and universities.

Dr. Ronald E. McNair's spirit lives on in his often cited words, "Before you can make a dream come true, you must first have one."