McNair Alumni

Spring 2012 Graduates

Fall2010-Kirk-Coughlin-web Kirk Coughlin

I am a senior at UW Stout in Applied Science: Nanoscience. I will pursue my desires of learning and discovery into grad school and attain a PhD. I am no stranger to taking a nontraditional path to achieve my goals. At 38 years of age and a father of a wonderful son, the paths I take start to matter less and less and the goals become eminently more important.

I was born on the East Side of Saint Paul, MN and spent most of my youth in the twin cities area. I moved to Hudson, WI in 1999 and to Menomonie, WI in 2008—to finish school. I am a disabled student working my way off of disability while getting my college degree and preparing for graduate school and the work force. As a diabetic student I am also looking for any programs that link material or nanoscience to further studies in treatment of this disease. I have presented research in the characterization of nanoparticles created by plasma induced inert gas condensation at the Materials Research Society Spring Meeting 2012 in San Francisco, CA.
I have always had a passionate relationship with learning. Not knowing how something works is simply a challenge to learn. I strongly dislike hearing "you don't need to know that" because now obviously I do need to know. The only thing more satisfying than discovering something new is to share that discovery with colleagues or your own children.


Lacey Holzer

My name is Lacey Holzer and I am currently a senior at Stout majoring in Dietetics.  My life is not the same as most college students on campus, I have a son who is 18 months old.  Since my son, I have realized that I need to be the best that I can possibly be because I want him to grow up knowing how important education is.  I feel blessed to be a part of the McNair Scholars Program because it has really helped me to realize that graduate school can actually be a possibility for me, being a single mom.  I have always had a passion for this field because growing up I always loved to cook for my family.  I was recently more influenced in this career when my younger sister was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  I have watched the adjustments and stress that my sister, who is 8, has gone through and it is my goal through my journey in getting my PhD to make this transition easier on children and help educate families how to live with diabetes.

My biggest goal is to be a part of research; I want to have a part in something bigger than just stating facts to people.  I have a passion for solving problems and looking for answers and I know that pursuing my PhD will bring me to those challenging questions and answers found through research.


Josephine Kilde

My name is Josephine Kilde. I am a junior majoring in Information and Communication Technologies. To achieve my future goal as a scientist I am integrating Computer Engineering and Mathematics into my major. I came to the United States in 2005 with the intention of visiting for a couple of months and then go back home. In the process of my visit an opportunity for me to attend a local technical college opened up. This was a long awaited prayer answered as I had a great desire to go to school. I had started a Computer Science degree in Kenya but due to financial difficulties I had to drop out in my second year. Even though I hoped and prayed, I never thought I would see the opportunity of college ever again.

Achieving an associate degree did not quench my thirst for education so I transferred to UW-Stout. I am really enjoying the broadness of the courses I am taking and the endless opportunities to get hands-on experiences in research labs. Being a McNair scholar has given me an opportunity to think beyond graduation to pursuing a PhD; something I would have ever thought about. I saw myself as many things, but never a scholar. I would like to study more about sensor networks, robotics, artificial intelligence, and/or embedded systems. I am grateful for the opportunity and I will fight the good fight to achieve this goal.


Susan LoRusso

I am a junior majoring in Food Systems and Technology with a concentration in food communications and a minor in journalism. I returned to UW-Stout to complete my education at the age of 30, and had aspirations of working in the food media. At the time, the thought of a post-baccalaureate education had not occurred to me. Being offered the opportunity to be a McNair Scholar has expanded my goals to include pursuing a PhD in the communications field. I am excited to work on research in my field, but I am most passionate about having the chance to teach and possibly inspire others to go on to supersede their own aspirations.

December 2011 Graduates


Jamal Khan

As a 21 year old young man, I am starting to learn more and more about myself finding different interests, hobbies, and areas of research I would like to explore. Currently I am particularly interested in communications, journalism and chemistry. Being a first generation college student, I feel I owe it to myself and those who do not have the same opportunity as I do to gain as much knowledge as I can. My father constantly tells me knowledge is power and I really abide by that saying. I hope to graduate from UW-Stout, attend a Masters program and go on to complete a PhD. As a proud ambassador of students of color at UW-Stout I serve as a role model to students of color entering the university. By motivating them I want to show that with hard work, dedication, and perseverance, anything is possible whether that means an undergraduate degree, a Masters degree or a PhD.

May 2011 Graduates


Jane Anderson

A non-traditional student, I returned to college because of my interests in meditation, psychology, and the elderly. I want to examine the possibilities of using meditation to increase the psychological and emotional well-being of elderly people. I plan to graduate in spring 2011 with a degree in psychology, minor in writing and a focus in gerontology. While attending Stout, I have discovered that I also have a passion for research. I am participating in two research projects this semester: Perceptions of Violence and Skin Color, and The Effect of Brief Meditation Training on Neural Activity and Anxiety. Each of my interest areas is full of opportunities for research, so I am excited about the possibilities of doing further research projects in graduate school. The McNair program has been invaluable in helping me prepare for and apply to graduate schools. As a first generation student, I have really needed and appreciated all the help and encouragement given by my mentors and the McNair group.


Mai Cha Lee

When my father arrived in the United States with a wife, three young children and no more than a second grade education, he decided to not allow his origins to influence his future. He strived for a college education that would have been unfathomable in the country he grew up in. That is what being American meant--what it embodied: the unimaginable and impossible. With this potential and thirst for education, he felt it important to ingrain these values in all eleven of his children, including me. Throughout my life, I have been asking questions, seeking a mentor and a program that could provide answers. I have started to explore this with UW-Stout's Human Development and Family Studies major, however, this has created more questions I would like to investigate. I am interested in the suffering of humans, and their resilient nature. I hope that by pursuing a PhD in social sciences I will have the possibility to find the answers. Like my father, I hope to carve my own pathway for the unimaginable and impossible.


Keila Tirado

My name is Keila L. Tirado and I am a senior majoring in Technical Communication with an Applied Science Concentration and Spanish minor. I am very interested in language and how it affects communication and understanding in the medical field. My research for McNair deals primarily with health literacy in the native Spanish speaking community. I am very excited to complete my research and am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the McNair Scholars program. I hope to graduate UW-Stout in Fall 2010 or Spring 2011and attend graduate school in the Fall of 2011. I am currently very involved in the Latino Unidos organization as the Peer Advisor. Being involved with this organization has expanded my leadership and teamwork skills and it holds a very special place in my college experience. I am also very involved with the Ally Center as Diversity and Civic Engagement Specialist. This opportunity has also provided many useful skills and experiences that I will remember for a lifetime. In my free time I enjoy running, yoga, shopping and spending time with family and friends.


Kao Lee Yang

I was born in a refugee camp called Ban Vinai in Thailand. As refugees of the Vietnam War, my family lived in Ban Vinai for a small part of my childhood.  After that we moved to St. Paul, Minnesota and then to Madison, Wisconsin, where my parents currently reside. As the middle of six children, I have had my share of being pampered and pampering others. I have learned from my older siblings to be persistent and to keep fighting for what I want to pursue in life. I have learned from my younger siblings to always be curious and to never stop questioning why things are the way they are. Over the years, I have been actively involved in the communities that I have been a part of and because of that I have worked with many different people. I have always been taken with the nature of people and observing people which is how I became interested in Psychology. Currently, I am interested in how gender roles shape Hmong women's perceptions of their male counterparts. In the future, I hope to pursue further education by getting accepted into a psychology graduate program that will help me on my way to being a researcher in human behavior.