My McNair research project titled, Education at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute during the Reconstruction Era has taken me on an amazing academic journey. As a history major, research is the key ingredient in becoming a successful historian. To gather information for my project, I have been in email correspondence with world renowned historians from Yale, Columbia and Brown University. I was surprised by their quick responses to my research inquires. Communicating with these historians made me realize the importance of networking in the academic world. The McNair name has a lot of clout and by participating in the program I have received an abundance of information. My McNair mentor Dr. L. Ivey has also provided me with great direction pertaining to my subject matter.
Amazing things can happen to you as a McNair Scholar. Recently, I was granted an interview with a professor from Yale University’s History Ph.D. program with whom I share similar research interests. For summer 2010 I applied for and was admitted to attend a fully funded historical seminar series at Yale which includes a living stipend. I attribute my successful admission into the program to my academic achievements and the contacts I made during my research with the professor at Yale. Never in a million years could I have imagined going to an Ivey League school for an interview with a world renowned historian. Now, I know that anything is possible.
My advice to all prospective and current McNair scholars is to put yourself out there; make the contacts with academic leaders in your field. Before you make those contacts, read any journals, articles, etc. about that contact person, you will be surprised at how this little task may benefit you and your future.