Thirteen West Virginia University students have been named Ronald E. McNair Scholars.

The program, federally funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, assists first generation college students and minority college students in preparing for graduate education. The program bears the name of Ronald E. McNair, who died along with six of his astronaut colleagues aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986.

WVU welcomed its first group of 19 McNair Scholars in the summer of 2000. Once accepted, students remain in the program until they earn undergraduate degrees.

Betty Mei, WVU s McNair Scholar program coordinator, said the new group was selected to fill slots vacated by graduating seniors. WVU receives funding for up to 20 McNair Scholars.

“The mission of the McNair Scholars program is to help those with educational ambitions reach those goals,”Mei said.”The program is going very well, and we have an exceptionally fine group of students.”

McNair Scholars also receive funding for a six-week-long research project, research writing and skills training, standardized test preparation, graduate school campus visits, graduate placement assistance and other professional development opportunities.

The program is open to full-time WVU students who have completed their sophomore year of study, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and are considering graduate school. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and/or permanent legal U.S. residents and be first generation college students with demonstrated need or a member of the numerically under-represented, such as African-Americans, Latino-Americans and Native Americans.

For more information, contact WVU s McNair Scholars Office at 304-293-4316.

WVU s newest group of McNair Scholars are: Seema Aggarwal, a senior liberal arts and sciences major from Morgantown; Amisha Dean, a senior psychology and sociology major from Charleston; Christa Dodd a senior psychology major from Ellenboro; Wenda Harris, a junior English major from Hyde Park, Mass.; Jodie Hoover, a junior geography major from Brownsville, Pa..; Clifford James, a senior computer engineering and computer science major from Guyton, Ga..; Teresa Jones, a junior psychology major from Minden; Lauren Pizza, a sophomore finance major from Ivydale; Stephanie Puher, a sophomore biology major from Morgantown; Angela Schaffer, a senior nursing major from Parkersburg; Laura Steele, senior elementary education major from Moundsville; Gabriel Tapia, a senior math major from Morgantown; and Gina Zirilli, a junior communication studies major from Richwood.