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December 1 , 2006
DH 06 JH90
Contact: Joanie Harmon-Whetmore
(310) 243-2740/2001

Cal State Dominguez Hills McNair Scholars Cohort Named for 2006-07

Carson, CA - The Cal State Dominguez Hills McNair Scholars Cohort for 2006-2007 was named last week. The Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program helps students from low-income, first-generation college backgrounds, or students from groups underrepresented in fields of graduate study, to enroll in graduate programs.

The 25 CSUDH students qualified for this national program with a minimum GPA of 3.0, sophomore, junior or senior standing, and majors in humanities or the social and natural sciences. The new cohort are from the the campus’ main service areas of the South Bay and South Los Angeles. The students are: Andres Alatorre (Sociology), Antwan Herron (English), and Ignacio Sobers (Psychology) of Carson; Pernell Jones (Health Science) of Compton; Brandon Becker (Psychology) and Mario Carrasco (Psychology) of Downey; Elizabeth Bermudez (English) and Kevin Montes (Psychology) of Gardena; Erika Miller (Anthropology) of Hawthorne; Esther Castillo (Sociology), Kellye Franklin (Sociology) and Angelica Mendoza (Psychology/Chicano/a Studies) of Inglewood; Judy Ibrahim (Psychology) of Lakewood; Mitchell Rosas (Political Science) of Long Beach; Janette Diaz (Chicano/a Studies), Jeffrey Govan (English Literature), Monica Lomeli (Anthropology), and Victor Tovar (Psychology) of Los Angeles; Sandra Chaidez (Sociology) of Lynwood; Michelle Albertella (Psychology) of Palos Verdes Estates; Margarita Gomez (Human Service) of Paramount; Heather Ruoti (Psychology) of San Pedro; Maria Aguirre (Sociology) of South Gate; Karen Perez (Spanish) of Whittier; and Nancy Gamino (Spanish) of Wilmington.

Jennifer Vega LaSerna, director of the CSUDH McNair Scholars, says that the program provides students with opportunities that they may not otherwise have known about or had access to.

“Two Scholars have completed their summer research projects in South Africa, which was a chance for international and cultural awareness not normally afforded to first-generation or underrepresented college students,” she states. “Other Scholars have conducted summer research at UCLA, UC Riverside, UC Irvine and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Connecting with faculty members at other campuses helps Scholars forge relationships essential to graduate school acceptance. Those who conduct their research at CSUDH work closely with our outstanding faculty mentors, and present research across the U.S. Several have published articles with their mentors, which is also essential to graduate school acceptance.”

Each McNair cohort is comprised of 22-26 Scholars, affording the ability for faculty and mentors to provide intensive support to each student. One-on-one advising and a graduate assistant dedicated to providing writing assistance are key to expediting the application process for grad school-bound students. The program’s connections with graduate deans at local and national campuses throughout the U.S. also gives Scholars a leg up with pursuing their advanced degrees, according to Vega LaSerna.

Being a McNair Scholar has transformed the college experience for Albertella, who describes how it has provided her a support system throughout her education at CSUDH.

“Where do I begin?” she enthuses. “Our McNair cohort is its own little community within the campus, with a place we can go to meet each other, work on the computer, relax, or escape from the pressures of school. Also, the McNair staff is beyond supportive in our research and presentation endeavors and with any concerns we may have about anything.  I truly feel supported by the program and its faculty. With all the stress of applying for graduate schools, that type of support makes a world of difference.”

The McNair Program was authorized by Congress in 1986, in memory of the Challenger astronaut, Ronald Erwin McNair. McNair grew up in a low-income community in South Carolina.  In 1971, he graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T State University with a B.S. in Physics.  At the age of 26, he earned his doctorate in laser physics from MIT. A recognized expert in Laser Physics while working as a staff physicist with Hughes Research Laboratory, he was selected by NASA for the space shuttle program in 1978, and was a mission specialist aboard the ill-fated 1986 flight of the Challenger.

For more information about the Dominguez Hills McNair Scholars Program, go to

CSU Dominguez Hills - University Communications & Public Affairs
1000 E. Victoria Street
Carson, CA 90747













Dominguez Hills Dateline is produced by University Advancement/ University Communications
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Last updated December 1, 2006, 12:18 p.m.
by Joanie Harmon