The McNair Student Achievement ProgramThe University of Hawaii at Manoa

For The McNair Undergraduate

Find a mentor at Mānoa

As a McNair scholar, you will work in an eight-week summer internship under the guidance of a designated faculty mentor. More than 25 University of Hawai'i at Mānoa faculty members have committed to making the McNair program a success by serving as program mentors. To choose a mentor suited to your academic interests and career goals, you may want to start by contacting faculty members in your particular discipline and going online to learn about the many different approaches to research at UH. Make an appointment with a McNair team member who will help you finalize your decision and coordinate the details of your mentored internship.

Get set for the main summer symposium event

As a McNair scholar, you will present findings from your mentored eight-week summer internship to an audience of faculty, family and friends at the special symposium "Big Research, Little Island." Like papers, scholarly presentations are a critical yardstick of productivity. They are also a key component of graduate school studies, scientific conferences and science-based professions. Be mindful of a few simple guidelines:

  • Practice, practice, practice! Get to the point that you can "wing-it" in the event of a power outage or otherwise uncooperative computer.
  • Hook your audience with an introduction that tells why your project is meaningful to you and others. Instead of just stating your research question, indicate your motivation for investigating the answer.
  • Tell a good story. Avoid jargon. Instead, describe the day-to-day events that show how your methodology works. Be sure to include any unexpected twists along the way.
  • Save the best for last. Your conclusion should condense your results and implications. Be sure to connect with the larger context of your project, described in your introduction.

Enroll in the McNair Seminar

McNair scholars are required to enroll in the McNair Seminar (Psy 499) during the fall semester of the academic year. Underwritten by the psychology department at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the seminar boosts undergraduate success and preparation for graduate studies through instruction in the following:

  • Analysis of current events through assigned reading of academic journals
  • Research methodology
  • Personal statement development and interviewing skills
  • GRE preparation
  • Writing and math skills
  • Discussion of graduate school programs and career pathways

Contribute through service work

McNair students have become enthusiastic participants in a service learning project focused on restoring traditional Native Hawaiian conservation practices within the east O'ahu watershed of Kamilo Nui Valley. Project goals include the promotion of sustainable farming and the restoration of native plant cultivation in the valley. The project is inspired by the concept of ahupua'a, a Native Hawaiian system of stewardship emphasizing self-sustainable units of mountain-to-sea divisions of land. McNair works on this project with several community non-profit organizations including Kamilo Nui landowner Kamehameha Schools. Like all authentic service learning experiences, the project, named Aloha ¨Āina 'O Kamilo Nui, involves a cooperative rather than competitive experience and promotes learning associated with teamwork and civic pride.

Service-learning gives McNair students a break from the rigors of lab work
Service-learning gives McNair students a break from the rigors of lab work.

For The McNair Scholar's Future

Know why college is important

College and post-graduate degrees determine a person’s place in today’s globalized, computerized economy. Even though college requires a considerable investment of time and finances, it eventually yields higher personal income on-average and more fulfilling career opportunities, leading to a better quality of life. From the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics* and the Hawai'i Department of Labor and Industrial Relations**, there is strong evidence that education pays:

  • The 2010 unemployment rate for people doctoral degrees was 1.9%, compared to 5.4% for people with bachelor’s degrees and 10% for people with high school diplomas and no college.*
  • The median weekly income in 2010 for people with doctoral degrees was $1,550, compared to $1,038 for people with bachelor’s degrees and $626 for people with high school diplomas and no college.*
  • Hawai'i’s top growth industries in 2009-2010 were health care, social assistance, and educational services; top-paying jobs in these sectors require at minimum a four-year college degree.** 
  • Hawai'i’s green workforce (jobs focused on energy efficiency and pollution and waste reduction) is experiencing unprecedented growth; most emerging professional occupations in this field require at minimum a master’s degree.**

Recognize doctorate dividends greater than money

The word doctorate is derived from the Latin doceo, which means "I teach," underscoring the social responsibility that comes with the degree. Doctorates are awarded to students who are stewards of knowledge. They are expected to meet important criteria:

  • They generate useful ideas with their research. 
  • They share and analyze knowledge by assuming faculty positions in universities.
  • They are respected thinkers who set ethical standards for application of knowledge within their respective fields.
  • They contribute intellectual ingenuity to fast-growing occupations where qualified job candidates are in short supply; these occupations include: chemical engineer, medical scientist, clinical psychologist, occupational therapist, college professor and curriculum specialist.

Discuss the benefits of doctoral education with the McNair Team of Enthusiasts.

Get in gear for grad school application

For every available space in a graduate program, there may be hundreds or even thousands of applications. You need to deliver an outstanding application package, consisting of a top-notch undergraduate record, high GRE scores and a compelling personal statement. A strong application can even offset the costs of graduate school, because it is a key component in garnering merit-based financial aid. To begin planning:

Find electronic applications, GRE test dates, virtual college fairs online:

Keep in mind common tips provided by graduate school selection committees:

  • Compare graduate programs you like to find the best fit. Visit local and "virtual" college fairs online.
  • Apply to an appropriate number of graduate schools.
  • Start early. Know the deadlines. Early submission creates a good first impression.
  • Gather all materials PRIOR to filling out online application. Be sure you understand what to include.
  • Develop your best personal statement. Give this assignment time. In order to stand out from the crowd, be authentic.
  • Learn about the GRE. Know the test has been revised as of August, 2011. Learn how the test works as a measurement of your skills in analytical and critical thinking.
  • Know when to take the GRE.
  • Figure out how you are going to pay for graduate school. Talk it over with your family and with financial aid officers at the schools of your choice.