Showing off UM’s jewels

Published 2:20 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2009

When I arrived at the University of Montevallo in August 2006, I was surprised and delighted to encounter a program that was not only discovering “diamonds in the rough” but was successfully polishing and marketing those diamonds.

The McNair Scholars Program is a federally funded program that prepares participants for doctoral studies, involving them in research and other activities.

At the University of Montevallo, the McNair Scholars program is directed by Dr. Tracy Payne, whose goal is to increase diversity among doctoral degree holders by encouraging and preparing students from minority groups to successfully complete their postgraduate studies.

McNair Scholars participate in the program during their junior and senior years.

While the scholars participate in programs throughout the year, the highlight is participation in the summer research internship, where they are paired with a faculty mentor to complete a research project.

Teresa Whiting is a 2007 graduate of the McNair Program who lives in Columbiana.

She is an excellent example of it never being too late to achieve your dreams. She put academics on hold for 20 years while she enjoyed being a mother, wife and community member.

Recently, Whiting graduated magna cum laude with a degree in communication studies. As a McNair Scholar, she conducted two research projects under the guidance of Dr. Sherry Ford. Her focus was the influence of character and religiosity on argumentativeness and verbal aggression among adolescents.

In the fall, Whiting will begin studying to be certified to teach English and communication to secondary students.

After she finishes her master’s, she’ll go on to get her doctorate at the University of Alabama and then become a professor, finishing up this local success story.