Scholars Share Their Experiences at the 17th National Conference for McNair Scholars and Undergraduate Research

News | May 2016 | by Terri Bernstein, Interim Director for AANAPISI and McNair

The University of Maryland hosted the 17th National Conference for McNair Scholars and Undergraduate Research conference March 10-13 at its College Park campus. UNLV McNair Scholars were among the two hundred and fifty attendees. Here, three of the scholars share their experiences.


Ernesto Bedoy, Psychology

My presentation experience previously consisted of summarizing my research in a few sentences in front of one to five people at a time at poster presentations. This is not as fulfilling considering the amount of time I typically spend on my research. There is so much I want to share with many more people. This year, the McNair Scholars Institute afforded me the opportunity to give an oral presentation at the University of Maryland‘s National Research Conference. My PowerPoint slides walked my audience through the details of my experiment and I was able to elaborate on my exciting findings during twelve minutes of allotted time. The conference was a great learning experience that included graduate school preparation workshops, inspirational speeches and networking opportunities. I will begin my graduate school education this fall. I thank the UNLV McNair Scholars Institute for providing me with opportunities like this that allow me to feel prepared and confident to overcome any obstacles that I may encounter in my pursuit of a doctoral degree.


Imani Gayden, Social Work

The 2016 McNair National Research Conference at the University of Maryland was an unforgettable experience. Initially, when asked to present my research, I was anxious, but decided I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. Later, I could not be happier that I did it, because I learned a great deal about myself. Leading up to my presentation, I was very nervous around other scholars. Looking back, I realized what an honor it was to present and after all, I am a scholar as well. I had a great audience turnout, was asked questions that were related to my research, and I left my presentation feeling empowered. The motivational speakers and information I received encouraged me to keep pushing forward. I will finish my baccalaureate degree strong and continue to be a proud McNair Scholar.


Isaiah S. Henry, Mechanical Engineering

The McNair Scholars Institute has had a significant impact on my undergraduate career with every experience in the program being unique, challenging, and influenced by the institute’s mission of increasing diversity in academia. My journey began with the application process, where I was interviewed by a board, whose professional roles ranged from academic advisor to assistant vice president of diversity initiatives. That experience gave me confidence to articulate my aspirations in academia, a skill that I will need during the graduate school interview process. My experience as a McNair Scholar continued with the summer research program where I was paired with Dr. Dieudonne Phanord to conduct original research. Dr. Phanord, professor and Director of UNLV’s Center for Atmospheric, Ocean & Space Science department, was straight forward in his approach to mentoring me throughout the summer, treated me as he would his graduate students, and expected high level of commitment from me towards our research effort. My first year as a McNair Scholar concluded with the opportunity to present my research at the University of Maryland, College Park. My experience was extremely fulfilling, and I took away many lessons. One of the most impactful messages I took from the conference, was the simple idea that “I am enough.” Throughout the conference, I heard speeches from a number of presenters discussing their journeys through academia. The overwhelming message was one of perseverance and self-belief.

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