Chandra ReynaMarch 27, 2024March 27, 2024hillaryobrien
Photo of Boise State University McNair graduate Chandra Reyna

Boise State University | McNair Scholars Program

I began college a non-traditional, first-generation, low-income student, who was juggling the responsibilities of motherhood while working full time. Navigating college was challenging but the support I received from mentors along the way was pivotal to my personal and professional trajectory. I was first introduced to the McNair Scholar’s Program through a professor. I vividly recall sitting in her office with a slew of questions when she encouraged me to consider continuing my education to pursue a Ph.D., a term unfamiliar to me at the time. She provided me with a link to the McNair Scholars Program and assured me they would offer all the guidance needed throughout the process.

Over the next two years, the McNair Scholars Program not only introduced me to the world of research but also played a crucial role in developing my identity as a scholar. They provided a myriad of academic and professional development opportunities and encouraged me to think ambitiously about my future. What sets the McNair Scholars Program apart is their unwavering support of their students. Despite serving first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students, the program staff never viewed these identities as hindrances to our future success or potential. Instead, they fostered a sense of belonging and purpose in their scholars by believing that each of their students’ unique perspectives of the world and science was just as valuable as any other. Before long, we believed it too.

Upon earning my Bachelor’s degree, I pursued graduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and earned a Ph.D. in Sociology. Now, as an educator and researcher, I support a new generation of both Sociology and McNair Scholars at my alma mater. As I guide and mentor my students, I am reminded of the program’s enduring impact and its ability to open doors to possibilities that might otherwise remain unseen.