Division of Student Affairs > Student Services > TRiO > McNair Scholars Program > McNair Student Profiles
The stories of DePaul students in their own words best illustrate the impact of the programs and activities within the Center for Access and Attainment. Click on the student profiles to learn more.
"I'm originally from Calumet City, Ill., but I went to a boarding high school in Wisconsin. It really prepared me in many ways. I was exposed to many different cultures; this helped me gain perspective on things and the school provided a lot of structure, which helped me a lot. After high school, I went to DePaul for a year and went back to the high school for a year to work to save some money and save money on general education courses. Then I came back to DePaul to finish a business degree in marketing. I went into business because I just thought that it would help me make money.
"One of my professors at the school in Wisconsin told me about the TRIO McNair Scholars Program and that I should apply. I looked into the program at DePaul, applied and I got in. I'm so glad that I did because I don't know where I'd be if I wasn't in McNair. When I first applied to McNair, I really didn't know anything about the program or what a PhD was. I thought the program was just for graduate degrees in general. When I found out what a PhD was, I found out that a lot of PhD programs waived tuition and paid a lot for their students. That was a big incentive and made me more interested in earning a PhD."
"I had no clue what academic research was. I remember when I did my first summer research program; I had some difficulty reaching out to mentors. I didn't want to bother them. But I learned to be proactive with my education. I don't feel like I'm being a burden anymore, and I think positively about how to go about what I want and need. Socially, a lot of times I don't know how to word emails or navigate certain social situations so I can go about it in the right way and in a professional manner. McNair has been a help financially, too. From the summer research program at DePaul to paying for GRE test preparation to travel to conferences."
"The PhD to me represents freedom, intellectually. I never would have imagined that you could have a job and get paid to think about what you want to think about. It also has a social justice factor to me. I didn't want to really go into marketing and force-feed people products they don't need. But I really want to make an impact on low-income consumers that can directly benefit their lives. I'm not sure how right now, but I want to conduct research around improving low-income consumers' spending habits and the conditions in which they are spending. I will get to study what I want and get paid for it. And that's awesome.
"My career goal is to be a tenure-track professor that will provide a lot of freedom for me, financially and time-wise. And make sure my family is taken care of. I'm most proud of the drive I have to succeed for my family. Just from what my doctoral fellowship is paying me, I will be the lead income earner in my family. I feel great about that. They never make me feel like I owe them, but I want to do well, and I'm proud of having that drive to make sure that they are OK."
Robert graduated from DePaul in spring 2013 and is currently earning a doctorate degree in business administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
"I come from a lower middle-class background; I grew up on the south side of Minneapolis, Minn. My mother raised me and my big brother, big sister ;and twin sister by herself since my dad passed away when I was very young. My father came from a migrant working family, and my mother came from a long line of doctors from Minnesota, so even though we were on welfare for the early period of my life, we still had a strong foundation that education was the key to success. My mother took night classes and worked full time but did not finish her bachelor's degree at University of California-Berkeley. But she was knowledgeable about how to maneuver through the system. This helped when I needed to advocate for myself for help.
"I always knew I needed to go to college, and I've always wanted to leave Minnesota and explore the world. My mother didn't like that idea, but I had to do it to become independent. My mom and big sister sat me down before I started high school and told me that I had to do well in high school in order to be eligible to get into a good college and get scholarships because she could not afford to pay for my education like some kids. Throughout high school I always remembered that talk, and I kept focused in school."
"There are two main obstacles that have been tough to mitigate while in college. One is that I am away from home. Unlike most students at DePaul, I am not from Illinois and it is quite difficult not being able to see my family whenever I want. They are a part of me, especially my mom and twin sister. Our relationships have changed because of the distance, but it was good for me because it pushed me to grow up faster and become more self-sufficient and independent. I learned how to adapt to an environment a lot better than if I stayed in my safe bubble; I can now challenge myself to do things outside of my comfort level and take risks.
The other fundamental obstacle that applies to every area in my life is that I am diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. This has made it difficult to read social situations, maintain relationships (whatever the function) and to navigate social circles. This issue will never go away; it is a part of me. However, instead of letting it hold me down, I don't think about it too much and more so just put myself out there and try to be as friendly and charming as possible. I have come across many social situations where it has gotten me into some trouble, but in the grand scheme of things, my ability to take risks and put myself out there without fear of rejection has helped me."
"McNair has connected me with many opportunities — one was an internship in Washington, D.C., working on Capitol Hill for Rep. Danny K. Davis while taking classes at Marquette University's Les Aspin Center for Government. Another opportunity was my summer research fellowship in the Leadership Alliance at Columbia University in New York where I conducted graduate-level research and presented my findings at two conferences. During that experience, I got to extensively understand what I want to study in graduate school and learned how to conduct quality research. Lastly, McNair sponsored me for a summer study abroad program in Fez, Morocco, where I studied Arabic for six weeks.
It has been a journey going through all of these programs and experiences through McNair. It is difficult for me to just separate my life and being a McNair scholar, everything I do now is because of something related to McNair: keeping a good grade point average, looking for research opportunities and applying to graduate schools. I have noticed that my identity now draws upon the tenants of the McNair program more than anything else I have been involved in because it has been fundamental to the trajectory of my life."
Tyler graduated from Columbia University in spring 2014 with a Master of Arts in Political Science. He is now an analyst for the section 8 housing voucher program for the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.
"At Prosser Career Academy, I participated in the International Baccalaureate program. The teachers would tell us students about college opportunities, but to be honest, I hadn't thought ahead to college during my high school years. I knew I enjoyed school and learning but I did not have a clear vision of what I wanted to do. I dropped out of high school my sophomore year and received my GED at age 18.
"Even though I wasn't a traditional high school graduate, I always knew I would pursue a college degree. I started my college education at Wright College (one of the City Colleges of Chicago). My professors at Wright encouraged me to apply for the DePaul Adult Bridge program (a collaboration between the School of Continuing and Professional Studies [SCPS] and City Colleges of Chicago providing coursework and advising to help students transition to a four-year university). With the support of the Bridge program and wonderful advisors like Peggy St. John from SCPS, I earned an associate degree with high honors from Wright.
"I entered DePaul University with a newborn son at age 28. Although I knew entering university with a newborn would be somewhat hectic, I was ecstatic and determined. DePaul was my one and only choice for attaining my bachelor's degree. My experience at DePaul has been more than I could have dreamed of."
"I didn’t think I would be admitted because I am a nontraditional student, a mother and in DePaul's School of Continuing and Professional Studies. But the McNair staff took me seriously, invested in me and gave me an opportunity to grow. The staff asked me serious questions about my academic goals and aspirations and this has helped me determine what my passion is.
"McNair has also helped by guiding me toward a PhD. Before the program, I wanted to become a child psychologist and help children on an individual level. But now I am looking at getting a PhD in order to implement sexual abuse prevention programs that can help a larger number of children in more profound ways. I am now able to see how my research can change policies. McNair has given me an alliance of faculty and staff at DePaul and motivated me to be a part of research teams where I am having hands-on clinical research experiences that give me a preview of what graduate school will be like.
"As a nontraditional student and someone who has never even been near someone with a PhD, I didn't have the capacity to see the options available to me. McNair has had a big influence in helping to shape my future and dream big, giving me the confidence to help me realize my potential.
"Looking back on my path to a bachelor's degree, I realize that there were many obstacles I had to overcome, from having financial setbacks to the fear of being an adult learner. Although being a nontraditional student is still an obstacle for me, I am much more confident in my abilities and appreciate the support from McNair, my professors, family and friends that I have made along the way who are also nontraditional students motivated to achieve their goals."