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$1.16 Million Grant Funds Graduate School Pathway for First-Generation Students

October 12, 2017

First-generation college students at the University of Georgia will receive expanded academic support to help them enter and excel in doctoral programs thanks to a $1.16 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The grant to UGA's Division of Academic Enhancement will be distributed over the next five years under the TRIO Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement (McNair Scholars) program.

The UGA McNair Scholars program will call on research-based practices for the retention and persistence of 25 Pell-eligible participants. These students will receive a full range of support, including first- and second-year "prep" academics, a class taught by DAE faculty for each incoming cohort, third- and fourth-year workshops, research stipends, and site visits to graduate schools. Campus partners-UGA's Graduate School, Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, Division of Biological Sciences, College of Engineering, Office of Inclusive Excellence, and many others-will provide a robust mentoring network for these scholars' future success in graduate school and beyond.

McNair Scholars, along with DAE's four other TRIO programs, contribute to UGA's mission in several ways: facilitating student success through academic support and intervention, preparing undergraduate students for the rigors of graduate education, supporting access to higher education among historically underrepresented student populations, and utilizing the institution's expertise and resources to positively impact the community.

Since 1964, TRIO programs have provided students from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to become aware of the benefits of postsecondary education, gain admission to college, and successfully complete a degree in higher education. The Division of Academic Enhancement has been the steward of TRIO programs since 1978 and recently added the TRIO Student Support Services program to its collegiate offerings in 2014.

Sherontae Maxwell, DAE's assistant director for access and author of the grant proposal, will direct the McNair program, along with Educational Talent Search, two Upward Bound programs, and Student Support Services.

"Sherontae's dedication to TRIO, talent for grant writing, and desire to see students succeed has resulted in sustainable programs that facilitate student learning and success," said T. Chase Hagood, DAE director. "And now with five TRIO programs, the DAE proudly serves first-generation and low-income students who have the capacity and desire to earn a degree in higher education beyond the undergraduate level. The transformational effects of this work are immeasurable."

For more information on the UGA McNair Scholars program, visit or contact Sherontae Maxwell at 706-542-7640 or