Program prepares students for grad school

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Ryan Silvola/Beloit Daily News McNair Scholar and Beloit College student Jonathan Dudley researches his summer project. He is researching how everyone's voices can be included when it comes to discussing how black power has fostered diversity and equity work on college campuses. The McNair Scholars Program helps prepare students who are traditionally underrepresented in graduate education to attend graduate school.

BELOIT - Beloit College students who otherwise might not have ever attended graduate school are now more prepared thanks to the McNair Scholars Program.

Incoming senior Jonathan Dudley, of Forest Park, Illinois, is thankful his participation in the program will give him a leg up when he applies to graduate school to pursue a doctorate degree in history. He hopes to become a college history professor.

Dudley spent last summer researching the history of black power and progression in the United States. He's now spending this summer at Beloit College researching how everyone's voices can be included when it comes to discussing how black power has fostered diversity and equity work on college campuses.

McNair participants are either first-generation college students with financial need, or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic potential. It's a federal grant program funded at 151 institutions across the United States with the goal of increasing graduate degree awards for students in underrepresented segments of society, according to McNairScholars.com.

The program is two summers long. Dr. Atiera Coleman, director of Beloit's McNair Scholars Program, said students spend the first summer taking a research course with her. They then spend the next summer conducting their own research at institutions across the United States. Beloit currently has 17 McNair Scholars.

Dudley will spend the rest of his summer speaking to various members of the campus community, including faculty and staff members as well as current and former students.

He believes that when discussing diversity and equity on campus, many don't often include dissenting voices. It's for this reason he plans to speak to both liberal and conservative stakeholders to get a more holistic view of the work being done at Beloit College.

"If you're going to be inclusive, you have to be inclusive to all - even the voices you don't want to hear," Dudley said.

He hopes to discuss the activist work being done on Beloit's campus over the last few years and reflect on how campus activism has changed since the Civil Rights era.

"Black voices in higher education often get pushed to the back or aren't included," Dudley said.

As an alum of Beloit College and the McNair program, Coleman said the McNair Program gave her the skills needed to attend grad school.

"I wanted to come back and give the same opportunity for students, because it changed my life dramatically," Coleman said.

Coleman said Dudley's work ethic is unparalleled compared to most of his fellow students, adding that the level of autonomy and passion he has for his research project is what she's looking for in a McNair Scholar. Overall, she said Beloit's McNair Program has many students studying a wide variety of fields, including education, international relations, biology, psychology, anthropology and more.

"These students are brilliant. They just need the financial support and opportunity to prove themselves," Coleman said.

Dudley will complete his research in early August.

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