The McNair Scholars Program at West Virginia University will show a film honoring the life of astronaut Ronald McNair to commemorate Black History Month and the 26th anniversary of the Challenger space shuttle explosion.

The brown bag luncheon event will be held from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 2) at the Gluck Theatre in the Mountainlair.

Betty Mei, assistant director of the McNair Scholars Program, said McNair’s story is one that resonates with Mountaineers and serves as inspiration for underrepresented students.

An African-American, McNair grew up picking cotton and tobacco in a small South Carolina town. His aspirations led him to bigger things—a Ph.D. in physics, a sixth-degree black belt in karate and a spot on NASA’s astronaut program.

But his life ended too soon in 1986 as he was one of seven victims of the Challenger space shuttle explosion. His hard work did not vanish. A few years later, the national McNair Scholars program was created in his honor with the help of his brother, Carl McNair. The program came to WVU in 2000, and since, more than 100 Mountaineers have benefited.

In addition to the film, a short quiz will be given on McNair and the Challenger.
Students with correct answers will be entered into a drawing for McNair memorabilia, including a bronze coin, T-shirts and more.

“We hope this is a fun way to educate students about Dr. McNair and history,” Mei said about Thursday’s event.

Through financial aid, academic advising and undergraduate research opportunities, the McNair Scholars Program pushes underrepresented students toward their doctorate degrees. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

For more information on the program, visit



CONTACT: Betty Mei, assistant director of McNair Scholars Program

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