I learned about this amazing opportunity about four months ago after I had spontaneously decided to visit the Westminster College campus. I didn't believe it would be possible to actually attend school here, but it was within bicycling distance and I figured that asking a slew of academically inept questions on campus wouldn't hurt. Fortunately for me, I bumped into the right person who pointed me in the direction of McNair, which is:
... a United States Department of Education initiative with a goal of increasing "attainment of PhD degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society,” including first-generation low-income individuals and members from racial and ethnic groups historically underrepresented in graduate programs.It's so exciting. If accepted, I have access to a professor mentor. I receive training on how to actually get into a graduate school training program. I receive a summer stipend for research. And guess what?
I was accepted.
I received my acceptance letter on July 16th, and opened it with much giddiness. It read,
"Congratulations! You have been selected to be a member of an elite national program: The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program..."
"... the McNair Scholars Program is a recognized producer of undergraduate students who are prepared for success at the doctoral level."and,
".. We will schedule a number of activities as well as special classes during the academic year, and participation in the funded summer research experience is a full-time commitment. As you consider acceptance of our invitation to the program, please bear in mind the time needed to be a fully participating member."
So exciting! Transfer student orientation is next Wednesday and then classes officially start August 25th.
I feel nervous and excited. It's a little bizarre, how I began school visibly gender non-conforming, legally female, and named Melanie. And now I am transferring to another college as a legal dude named Dexter.
Due to the time commitment involved in having the opportunity to attend an expensive private liberal arts college will require (I have to maintain over a 3.8 GPA to hold on to my very-necessary scholarship; and now McNair), I'm moving in with my parents. Having the privilege to do so is not something I take for granted, and this is extremely sweet of them. They presently live in a trailer and have limited space available as-is. I'm also going to a little student job fair next week.
This is taking some adjusting to. It's all in reverse. I've been completely independent for years, working full-time. And now I'm a student, working part-time and living with my parents.
I suspect that this is as close as it gets to living Back to the Future in real life. Like I've traveled back in time into the body of a dude in his early 20s going to school. That feels weird to write, but I don't know any other way to put it.
I also received an e-mail from the McNair program director letting me know that she spoke with someone in the financial aid office who will take a look at my funding now that I've been accepted as a McNair Scholar. And that this person informed her that I will receive an increase in my institutional grant funding!
This is all above and beyond anything I ever expected. For a while there I had almost entirely given up on any hopes of actually going to college, especially after my debt with the community college. And even more-so after that debt was sold to collections and my account was placed on hold. If it wasn't for saving up for four years and my brother being in a position where he could finally help economically, that would've been the insurmountable end of it. Now, with that economic hurdle obliterated, because of my GPA I'm getting scholarships and get to study neuropsychology and can even aim for a Ph.D eventually. I don't know how yet, but McNair will help me learn.