Current Scholars 

Antoinette Lyte-Evans  
Major:  Business Administration

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My name is Antoinette Lyte-Evans and I am 20 years old from Milwaukee, WI. I am currently a Junior at UW-Stout double majoring in Supply Chain Management and Business Administration with a minor degree in Project Management. I am involved in many leadership roles and extracurricular activities, which includes, Desk Service Manager of University Housing, Vice President of Black Student Union, and an active member of the Honors Program & McNair Scholars Program. Besides being involved on campus, other things that I do for fun is shopping (online shopping in specific), hanging out with family and friends, and volunteering. I have gained my interest in my major during my internship at SC Johnson & Son during the summer and I fell in love with the Supply Chain aspect of the business which led to the changing of my major from Retail Management. I love to see the process of a upcoming product go from the sharing of ideas to the shelves for the customers to purchase.

As the oldest child, grandchild, and great-grandchild, I have always been the role model for those family members younger than me. Education has always been very important in my family, and that has motivated me to get where I am today. With the motivation of my family, I also refer to a quote that always gets me going to do better in my academics, which is, "If you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful"- Eric Thomas.

 Stephanie Neas

Major:  Applied Mathematics and Computer Science

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My name is Stephanie Neas, and I am a first generation college student from North Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. I am a senior at UW-Stout, majoring in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. I chose to attend UW-Stout because I felt it was the best fit for me as a student; I appreciate the challenge of my area of study, and have often found my greatest success in working individually or with a small group of peers.

At UW-Stout, I have been able to pursue my interests and gain valuable experience as an undergraduate:  As a member of UW-Stout Honors College I have gotten to take many interesting classes, all of which have challenged my knowledge and perspective on a variety of subjects. I have also worked as an undergraduate researcher at UW-Stout, focusing on algebraic geometry and complex analysis research. My work has provided me with valuable experience that I will be able to take with me to graduate school and beyond.

In my free time I enjoy reading, playing video games, and spending time with close friends and loved ones. I also enjoy puzzles and logical reasoning games, board games, and problem solving. I also love amusement parks and roller coasters, and I would love to try skydiving one day.

 Wendi DeMars
Major:  Vocational Rehablitation

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My name is Wendi DeMars and I am a first generation college student who grew up in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. I am currently a sophomore at Stout. I am majoring in Vocational Rehabilitation with concentrations in AODA and mental health. I started school at CVTC in Eau Claire in 2001, as a single mother of a child with special needs and because of the commitment my daughter needed I was unable to finish my education. Now that she is grown up and doing wonderfully I chose to enroll back into school as an adult learner. I chose Stout based on its ranking for Vocational Rehabilitation. I decided on Vocational Rehabilitation because of my experiences with people with disabilities. I enjoy helping people solve problems that will improve their lives.

           I currently work for various people cleaning their homes with my cleaning business. When not working I am attending meetings for a small non-profit in Eau Claire where I am the vice president on the board of directors. I can also be found mentoring women who have disabilities through a program I attend.

           Some things I like to do for recreation include, boating, reading, and camping. I especially enjoy spending time with my daughter and my cat, S’mores. Something I would like to accomplish in my life is writing a book about my daughter, myself and our time together. 

 Bridgette Barr
Major:  Vocational Rehabilitation

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Hey! My name is Bridgette Barr, I am a first generation college student in the Vocational Rehabilitation program here at UW-Stout. There has been many things that has brought me to where I am today in my education. I feel that my helpfulness started as a child where I would try to rescue any stray animal that I could find! As I grew older I then started to babysit, help out in the special education classroom, helping a few elderly in my community and got involved in many different organizations. I started college and I did not know exactly what I wanted to go for. As I worked in a behavioral group home, I came to realize that what I really enjoyed was helping my clients to learn and to become as independent as possible. That is when I found the path that I am in now in Vocational Rehab. My plan is to graduate and after I graduate I am looking in to doing my Masters in Occupational Therapy. My goal is to have a great career where I am financially secure where I can continue to help out my community and family.

 Miranda Danzeisen
Major:  Applied Science

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Hello! I am Miranda McKay Danzeisen. I am currently an RA in CK and I love it! My residents always keep me on my feet and never fail to make me smile. While I’m not at school or work, I enjoy going to the gym and being with my friends and family. Relationships are very important to me and I devote a lot of time and energy to them. A funny story about me is, I’m named after a bag of flour. My aunt was in Child Development and named her bag of flour that represented a child Miranda McKay. Since my mom thought I was a boy the whole time when I came out she didn’t have a “girl name” ready for me. Therefore, Miranda McKay became my name.

I am in the second year at UW-Stout and I’m majoring in Applied Science with a minor in Psychology and Human Physiology. My dream job is to work at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota as a Pediatric Gastrointestinal Doctor. I have many medical issues including Celiac Disease and a sugar sensitivity, so the digestive system is very interesting to me. I am excited for my future and ready to get started!

 Tonisha Hora
Major: Human Development and Family Studies

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My name is Tonisha Hora. I am a first-generation college student who grew up half of my life in Kenosha, WI and the rest of the time in a small northern town called Ogema, WI. I am in my second year of college and first at UW-Stout. I transferred here from UW-Stevens Point. My major is Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), with a concentration in Social Work. I transferred to UW-Stout because this is where my husband attends and I am 100% thankful for the switch or I would not have the major that I do. I love that Stout has a field completely revolved around the helping professions with so many career opportunities. It is exactly what I was looking for to get into the field I want to work in, which is Child Protective Services/Social Work.

I have done a lot of research work in my major, which all revolves around people. A lot of it involves the development of children, whether physical, cognitive, psychosocially, etc. Other research I have done revolves around social work policies and problems in that area. This is an area that I hope to do some serious research in and potentially work my way up to making changes in policies one day that benefit everyone. I am hoping to get my graduate degree in social work. I want to work in protective services environment where I am able to help children in bad (abusive) home situations because I grew up in a bad house myself and these things are very near and dear to my heart.

When I am not doing school work, I am reading, writing, or watching movies. With my husband, I love to go fishing, kayaking, snowboarding, and more. We enjoy time in the outdoors. I love traveling. I am fortunate to have gotten the chance to go work in South Africa with autistic children and gain a wealth of knowledge in this area of work.

 Tatiana Jackson
Major:  Business Administration

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Hi I am Tatiana Jackson, and I am a first generation student who lives in Plymouth, MN. I am currently a second year student here at UW- Stout majoring in Business Administration and possibly Supply Chain Management as well. I am really glad I decided to attend UW-Stout, I really appreciate all of the hands on learning in the class room. Also it is really nice to be able to soak up the knowledge that my professors have from working in their field of specialty. These two things really boost my confidence when it comes to starting a career once I have finished earning my degrees, I also think that their words of wisdom, caution, and encouragement will help me stay on the right track.

Even though I have only been here at UW-Stout for two years, I have learned and grown so much as a student, an individual, and as an up and coming professional as well. I have been exposed to many different people, varying perspectives, and views that I feel more comfortable and confident in my ability to work in harmony with anyone once I start my career. I know that the difference between people is what makes us unique and special so that everyone brings something new and valuable to the table. I know that the skills that I am forming and establishing now will only continue to be beneficial through graduate school and beyond. Another thing that has also been very beneficial l for me thus far is being a part of the UW-Stout student governing body, the Stout Student Association. I have been able to be a part of the decision making student body that makes a lot of crucial choices that effect the student body. This experience has really opened my eyes to how the campus operates and how vital it is to make wise and unbiased decision when it comes to making decisions on things that will affect a body of people no matter how big or small.

But of course I am not all work and no fun. Whenever I am not in class, working, or at a senate meeting I enjoying hanging out with my friends, listening to music, dancing, or just catching up on a good Netflix series.

 Charlo Siprien
Major:  Materials and Nano Science

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Hello my name Charlo Siprien, I’m from Miami, FL and currently a junior at UW- Stout double majoring in the Material and Nano Science, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I’m in several clubs on campus such as Habitat for Humanity, Ally initiative, and Material Research society. In my free time I like to compete in Powerlifting and Strongman competitions and volunteer around the community.

 My major goal in life is to find ways to better improve society, in doing so I like to research about ballistic armor that can be used in the military or law enforcement and thinking about way to get rid of cancer, one theory that I have is to use sound waves to get rid of cancer. I feel that going to Grad school will give me the tool and information to tackle on my goals.

As of right now I’m doing research with a Physics professor to setup a spatial light modulator lab. The purpose of this lab is help students get a better understanding on the concept of light diffraction, interference, and holography. Hopefully in the next 4 years the lab can be offered as a section for students that take the optics class at UW-Stout.


 Mai Her Xiong
Major:  Environmental Science

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My name is Mai Her Xiong, and I am majoring in Environmental Science - Environmental Health concentration. My goal is to go into Pharmacy School after graduation, but I also have a backup plan; if I can’t get into Pharmacy School, my backup plan is to get a master in Public Health either at UW-Madison or U of M - Twin Cities.

         Beside the McNair’s Scholar research which I will be starting in the summer of 2017, I am also working on a research with my advisor. The research is based on cadmium. We are trying to measure if the plants that we have planted will consume cadmium spray into their stems, as a result if we consume foods that contain cadmium, it may cause osteoporosis as we age. This is an interesting research project, and I believe that my research with the McNair’s Scholar program will be similar as in using plants (herbal plants).

         Lastly, I hope to build relationships with students in the McNair’s Scholar Program as well as the advisors and director.  Being in the program really motivates me into studying.

 Laura Villagomez
Major:  Business Administration

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My name is Laura Villagomez. I am a first generation second year transfer student for Green Bay, Wisconsin, currently studying, Business administration with an emphasis in Marketing. A little about myself, I am a very creative person I enjoy drawing and painting in my spare time. Horror movies are my go to movie genre event though I am a bit of a scaredy cat. I have fun cooking and reading and I love learning new things because knowledge is power and gaining new skills is the way to go.  I hope to achieve many great things and make a difference in the world. I am currently working on improving myself to become a better leader for both my peers and to set a good example for my three younger siblings. I enjoy volunteering in my community and wish to continue doing do so thought my life.

 Carol Vang
Major:  Business Administration

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“Hello! My name is Carol Vang. Now I am studying Business Administration and hope to enter the international world, where I can work with different business and learn more about their cultures. I am fully Hmong and very proud of it. I have grown up in a large family all of my life, so being loud is something I am very used to. My family and I have lived in Menomonie for the past 20 years and we enjoy it very much. My home is considered a place of love and giving. I truly enjoy giving back to my family, my peers, and the community. Helping others is defiantly something I hope to continue to do.

As you can see, my family plays a huge role in who I am and who I aspire to be. The love from my family will forever move me forward. In my free time, I spend time with family. Other times, I enjoy watching movies, cooking, and singing. I grew up with a large family, four sisters, and two brothers.

I hope to go to graduate school to learn more about how to work with different businesses around the world as well as understand how business plays a role on each economy. ”


 Joshua Diamond
Major:  Applied Science

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My name is Joshua Diamond and I am a junior. I am a non-traditional student and spent 5 years in the Marines before getting out and deciding school was the route to go. I am in the applied science field and I am looking into being a pharmacist.  I currently work as a pharmacy tech and I really like learning the different medicines and interacting with patients.

I grew up in Menomonie, WI and went to school here from kindergarten to graduation. I immediately joined the Marines and was in boot camp 10 days later. During this time I realized that I was getting a great benefit with the GI bill and didn’t want it to go to waste, but had no idea what I wanted to do. After spending some time learning about pharmacy and talking with a few pharmacists, I realized that this would be the goal I want to go towards. Stout has been great in helping me achieve my goals and I look forward to going to pharmacy school and anything after that.


 Chang Lor
Major:  Cross Media Graphics Management

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Hi. My name is Chang Lor, a transferred student from Northcentral Technical College from Wausau, WI. I transferred as a Junior student last Fall 2015 in the Cross-Media Graphics Management (CMGM) program. I have gained interest in the CMGM program ever since my high school year where I took my first introductory class to the program. I continued on the same program at Northcentral Technical College and transferred to UW Stout for my Bachelors.

Some of my many hobbies include playing the piano, fishing, kayaking, and dancing. After I got enrolled at UW Stout, I put aside my hobbies and focused more on my education, which lead to the many opportunities and involvements around campus that I grew interest in, such as the McNair Scholars program. Besides my involvement with the McNair program, I work as a lab assistant in the Communication Technologies building, involved in a club called Stout Typographical Society (STS), and involved with the Lawton and ASPIRE program. I believe being involved on campus can lead a student to academic success because of the positive support given from their peers and staffs.

Aside from on-campus activities, I am also a graphic designer for the Central Wisconsin Literacy Council (CWLC), a nonprofit organization that helps low-literacy adults in general educations. I have been with the CWLC since 2014, doing design work, such as posters, placemats, brochures, and interactive PDFs, for their many events located in Marshfield, Wausau, and Wisconsin Rapids. Designing for the CWLC has really helped me in professionalizing my communication skills as well as creative skills. Designing for the CWLC has also given real-life experience on meeting deadlines as well as time management.

Upon graduating from UW Stout in Spring of 2018, I plan to continue on my education for my Masters in either Business or Communication, both relating to my Bachelors degree.

 Vong Hang
Major:  Industrial Design

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My name is Vong Hang and I am currently a sophomore in the Industrial Design program at UW-Stout. I was born in La Crosse, WI and moved to Menomonie when I was about four. Throughout high school, I was apart of the TRIO program called ETS (Education Talent Search). With the help of ETS, I had the opportunity to visit multiple UW colleges before deciding to work on my future at Stout. Stout allows me to stay close to home, family, and friends. Stout’s hands-on approach to learning was also the ideal method for me. I am a first generation Hmong college student, as my parents were refugees from Thailand. Knowing of all the challenges and hard work that my parents endured making a living and raising me in the US, completing my undergrad is just the beginning of saying thanks to my parents. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today and making them proud is my number goal in life which makes education my number one priority.

 I am now a current resident of Eau Claire where I work as an electronics sales associate at Target. I am also an active member in GSA and HSSO. They are organizations in which I identify passionately in. I entered UW-Stout knowing that I wanted to pursue a major in engineering. Little did I know that I wasn’t interested in the mechanical works of engineering, but more in the designing aspect. I was passionate about engineering and had no idea that I would be so much more passionate about the creation that went into engineering. When I discovered Industrial Design, I finally found a major that balances both engineering and art. I had always thought art was just a hobby and that a career couldn’t be made out of it. What grabbed my attention about Industrial Design was the aspect of innovating or creating old and new objects to better the life of our every day tasks. Whether it’s from making an everyday item more elderly accessible or just making an item more aesthetic, Industrial Design is always looking to innovate.

Currently my perspective graduate college is UW-Stout, but I’m also keeping an open mind. As much as I do believe that a good college equals a good education, it really comes down my own effort and motivation to bring me to the top. I believe that with constant motivation and belief in myself and those that have helped me along the way, getting to the top can be easily achieved wherever life takes me.

 Angela Vadner
Major:  Applied Science

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My name is Angel Vadner. I am a non-traditional student and transferred in to UW-Stout with my A.A. I grew up back and forth between a small rural town in Polk County, WI and the Suburbs of MN. I am majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology. I have a passion for research and modern medicine. I plan on continuing into graduate school either in cancer research, vaccine research or medical school. My favorite place to be is in the lab; however, I am a people person and also love interacting with people. So my ideal job would be a mix of lab and patient work.


 Javante Watson-Hall
Major:  Human Development and Family Studies

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My name is Javante Watson-Hall, and I am a first generation and student of color student here at UW-Stout. I am from the inner city of Milwaukee, which is in the southeast part of Wisconsin. Some things about myself is when I am not busy doing homework or working, I like to go to movies, bowl, skating, traveling, telling jokes, and watching supernatural/occult related tv shows. I’m currently a junior majoring in Human Development & Family Students with a concentration on International Relations. What helped determine my final decision to attend Stout, was all the great services they have to offer for their students, I never been to a campus where they have so many different resource to help students succeed and become great leaders. I also, loved the size of the campus, it wasn’t too small or too big. After three long years here at Stout I am still very proud of myself for making the decision to attend this University. I enjoy being in Human Development and Family Studies major, this major has helped me grow in so many ways and improve on skills that I never thought I had. I love being in the helping field so I can give a great service to those I come in contact with and give back to my community.

               Throughout my experience so far here at Stout, I have done so much in many different areas of study and career interest. Now I am in the mist of putting together a research project to help me get a better understanding of what research is, what to look forward to in graduate school and to find out different data to help improve or acknowledge the topic of my research interest which is revolved around international education. My aspirations towards graduate school are very positive, I want to work in the field of international education and by going to grad school to help prepare me to work in the field is one of my goals. I am excited for graduate school because I am going to be at the point in my education where I pick what I want to study now and I get to go more in depth with it for my career. A job I have on campus now is working in the Office of Admissions as the Group Visits Coordinator, I get to work with perspective college students and talk to them college, my experiences with college, and coordinating their visits when they come. It has been a very interesting and exciting job to have. I enjoy telling other future leaders about what kind of experiences and opportunities they should look forward to having while they are in college.

 Cassandra Shoemaker

Major:  Psychology

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Hi! My name is Cassandra Shoemaker, I’m a non-traditional college student majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology. I have been married for the past 3.5 years and have a 3 year old daughter. I grew up in Portage, Wisconsin but move to Menomonie from the Madison area. I transferred to UW-Stout from Madison Area Technical College with my husband, after receiving my associate’s degree in Liberal Arts. I am currently a junior here at UW-Stout, and I plan on graduating in May 2017.

After graduating from UW-Stout, I plan on attending a Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology, to become a pediatric or family psychologist for the military. My research interest is in military relationships, and how the military lifestyle affects the different relationships service men or women may have. I chose my research interest and future career path, because I was a military girlfriend, fiancé and wife for 3 years. During my research, I want to better understand what makes some military relationships last longer than others. During my future career, I wish to help the military families that are having a hard time coping with the lifestyle, and have them know that I understand what they are going through and that I can help them.

               In addition to going to school full-time, and having a family, I work at Oaklawn Elementary School as a teacher’s aide/assistant in a fourth grade class. I help the students and teacher with any subject they need me to help with. When I’m not at school or working, I enjoy spending time with my husband and daughter, going on family walks and playing at the park. I also have a passion for baking as well as reading, when I get the time.

Amanda LaBode

Major:  Psychology 

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My name is Amanda La Bode and I am a non-traditional and first-generation college student. I am currently working towards my B.S. Psychology, with a minor in Cognitive Neuroscience. I grew up in a negative environment, which attaining a college degree was of a mystical reality. I have struggled a lot throughout my younger years and continue to struggle today with Major Depression, PTSD, Mood Disorder, and Anxiety.

My lifelong goal is to figure out a way to reduce the amount of drugs given to children for mental disabilities. I feel that in today’s society, everyone, especially children are overly drugged and that the drugs only mask the issue with a greater chance of side effects. This same idea could also help doctors and clinicians to accurately diagnosis, prescribe the proper dose, and to help reduce the trial and error process that is widely practiced today.

After graduation, I would like to pursue a Ph.D. in either Neuroscience or Bio-medical science. I have to thank my family, close friends, and a handful of professors and advisors who has been here for me. I would not be where I am today without them!

My philosophy is “To change this world into a better place, it starts with one child at a time.

 Courtney Wagner

Major:  Psychology

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My name is Courtney Wagner, and I am a first generation college student in the psychology program here at UW-Stout. At first, psychology did not spark much interest in me until I started to take more relevant courses and realized how fascinating it could be to learn about ourselves and why we behave the way we do. Also, earning a psychology degree can be very rewarding and open up other possibilities so that is why I strongly believe that it is the best choice for fulfilling my goal of pursuing a Master’s degree in social work after graduation. Volunteering, spending time outdoors, and socializing with family and friends are a few activities I enjoy outside of my education.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

 Rebecca Olson

Major: Psychology

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My name is Rebecca Olson. I am an adult student, and live in Menomonie, WI. I have a wonderful family who have become my personal cheering squad. In my spare time I like to cook, spend time outdoors, travel, and play with my children.

College always seemed like a dream that was not obtainable.  One day I woke up and realized I wanted a change. My children needed to see me break education barriers. I wanted my daughter to know that a college degree was obtainable regardless of life circumstances.

I enrolled at the University of Wisconsin Stout where I developed a love for Psychology. As a new semester of classes begin I become more fascinated by the subject. I am interested in personality types and how they influence a person’s behavior. I would like to further my studies in clinical or social psychology.

I would like to leave you with one final thought. It doesn’t matter what situations your previous life included. Don’t give up on your dreams. With hard work and dedication you can choose a path toward personal fulfillment.

 Matthew Olson
Major:  Food Science and Technology

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 Hello, I am Matt! I am a non-traditional student attending UW Stout for an Applied Science Degree concentrating in either Biochemistry and Molecular Biology or Interdisciplinary Sciences:  Chemistry and Physics.  Although I was born in the Twin Cities, I grew up in a small rural "village" in Polk County, about 20 miles west of Amery, WI.

After earning my associates degree from Art Institutes International in culinary arts, I worked in several food venues as a Chef de Cuisine, Head Caterer, and Madre de Hotel.  Realizing that my comportment had changed over the years, I decided to enter college for a degree in Food Science.

Ultimately, I ended up having and easy understanding of Chemistry and chose this as my career path.  Along with studying, my other involvements are working for the chemistry department as a lab tech, researching for the Food Science department for an innovative STEM project, and I'm a weekend community volunteer.  Also, I am currently independently studying both Inorganic Chemistry and Synthetic Biology.

After graduation from UW Stout, I wish to attend the University of Manchester, UK and obtain a PhD in Chemical Engineering.  This of course is my first choice!

 Mariah Bates
Major:  Applied Social Science

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Kang Chu Thao  
Major: Apparel Design and Development 

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Kang Chu Thao

My name is Kang Chu Thao. I have been married for 3 years and am expecting a little one in the spring of 2014. My family has always taught me that education is the way to success. With this in mind education has been an enormous contribution to who I am. It had permitted me to discover the reasons why I want to succeed in life, socially, academically and culturally. I am currently a junior here at UW-Stout and majoring in the Apparel Design and Development program with a minor in Applied Photography. I believe that this major enables me to spread awareness of my culture and explore the importance of traditional clothing in other cultures in visually impactful way.

Through the mist of my undergraduate studies, I have always seen myself completing my Bachelor's degree then going straight into a career.That has all change over this past summer. When I was notified that I fit the criteria's to apply to the McNair's Scholar program, I was ecstatic. The moment I read the e-mail I knew I wanted to apply for the program. Hence to even be considered a candidate for the McNair's Scholar program has been a great honor and accomplishment for me thus far. In addition, it had given me a chance to try and pursue a Master's degree in Photography and maybe even a PhD in Design. It will allow me to have an edge and go into my future career with more knowledge. Ultimately, I am proud to say that being part of the McNair's Scholar program has given me the opportunity to represent Stout. Moreover, make a difference in the near future and change the education path of future generations within and out of my family.


May 2016 Graduates

 James Vance
Major:  Cognitive Science

Attending University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire

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Jimmy Vance

My name is Jimmy Vance. I am 29 years old and I am from Chippewa Falls, WI. I have always been interested in attending college but was never really set on anything in particular. When you feel you are able to do anything you run into the paradox of choice which leads to not doing any of it. However, I have done a lot of others things in my twenties from managing tours for bands, living in Texas (Austin), working in the videogame industry and traveling. I have always been interested in studying the brain in some form so when the Cognitive Science program at UW-Stout was being offered I had to jump on the opportunity. Since then I have gained a great deal of research experience and have learned so much in a major that is considered interdisciplinary. I currently have minors in Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychology, Philosophy and Biomedical Instrumentation and I am pursuing an Applied Ethics Certificate. I want to get the best education I can now as I feel that this will be a Launchpad that dictates the rest of my life. That is why I considered joining the McNair Scholar Program. I have had a great experience in my education here at UW-Stout and would like to gain more experience in the form of graduate school. My career goal is to become a User Experience Researcher in an industry dealing with interactive and immersive media. I am currently seeking master's program in the realms of Human-Computer Interaction and Human Factors.

Charles Deniger
Major:  Applied Mathematics and Computer Science

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I had originally come to Stout to stout to major in construction but I was soon pulled into a different direction.I began to realize what I excel at, and what I truly love doing. I am currently a junior at Stout majoring in Applied Math and Computer Science with a concentration in Bioinformatics and a minor in Chemistry.

I am going to be the first member of my immediate family to graduate from college, and I am looking forward to furthering my education after I complete my degree at Stout. I am unsure about whether or not I want to obtain a PhD or to pursue a Masters, but I do know that I would like to enhance my education pertaining to Bioinformatics. McNair has offered me an outlet to receive the guidance I need to help escort me down the path to receiving my next degree, and I am more than excited for that next step in my life.

 De'Andre Jones
Major:  Family and Consumer Sciences Education

Attending University of Seattle

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Hello! My name is De'Andre Jones and I am a senior in the Family & Consumer Sciences program minoring in Women & Gender Studies at UW-Stout. I was born and raised in Austin, Texas but have been an official resident in the state of Wisconsin since May of 2012. Prior to transferring into UW-Stout, I attended Austin Community College, and Madison College where I completed much of my general ed courses.

I consider myself to be sociable, out-going, and extremely ambitious. This resonates through my involvement and leadership across campus. I am currently the VP of Recruitment for Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity, Events Coordinator for the Gender & Sexuality Alliance, as well as for my job at the Qube, and I am involved with student services such as Multicultural Student Services and ASPIRE. I like to volunteer on campus and around the community through groups such as the Hegemony Project.

When I began at Stout, I was set that I wanted to work in education, but was unsure of which capacity that would be in. Two-semesters later, I decided that I wanted to work and be a part of something that was bigger than myself, hence the change to higher education. After completing my undergraduate career, I plan to pursue a Master's Degree in Student Affairs Administration. I would love to work in Student Services, or for a Residence Life department. My ultimate goal is to ensure that students are able to have the best possible experience during their college career. Right now, my perspective universities include St. Thomas University, UW-Lacrosse, and St. Cloud.

 Keodara Moua
Major:  Human Development and Family Studies

Attending University of St. Kate's/St. Thomas

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My name is Keodara Moua. I am a third year student in the Human Development and Family Studies program. I am from St. Paul, MN. When I was a senior in high school, I was not sure that I wanted to go into. My parents were immigrants in the U.S. They met in the United States and got married. They now have eight children. I am the third oldest child and daughter. Being one of the oldest child is very difficult because I was not open to a lot of opportunities. My parents did not want their daughters to be influenced by the bad community and stereotypes that they had viewed for teenage Hmong girls. My parents valued education and wanted us to go far in life and not get pregnant. Happy to say, I surpassed that benchmark and still continuing to create different benchmarks for myself.

I was undeclared and sometimes I felt that I was not sure where I wanted to take my life. Being a part of many different programs, a lot of people helped me find the person I am today and helped me choose the major I am in now. Through all the difficult obstacles that I went through by myself, I was able to have a declared major and find a bright future for myself. I want to continue to aspire and build on a future that will lead me into something successful.

 Ashley Spinler
Major:  Psychology

Attending St. Cloud State University

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Ashley headshot

My name is Ashley Spinler. I am 21 years old and am from New Prague, Minnesota—a relatively small town in south central Minnesota. I am the second oldest of four daughters. I had the University of Wisconsin-Stout picked out as my undergraduate college since I was a sophomore in high school. My mom originally brought it to my attention, it was the college she had hoped to go to but did not get the chance. Being one of the first people in my family to attend college, going to graduate school has been a huge and daunting aspiration of mine and my family.

I am majoring in Psychology, with a double minor in Human Development and Family Studies and English Writing. I, like many others within in my major, choose to pursue this field of study because I wanted to help others. Also, the mind and human behaviors have always fascinated me. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Stout with a B.S. in Psychology, I hope to continue my education in pursuit of a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. After which, I hope to be a marriage and family therapist who specializes in families affected by chronic, life-altering, or terminal diseases, like cancer, cystic-fibrosis, etc.

 Morgan Wolf
Major:  Psychology

Attending Naropa University

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morgan headshot2

My name is Morgan Wolf.  I am 21 years old from New Berlin, WI.  My high school psychology teacher pushed me to pursue my dream of Apparel Design and connected me with Stout.  Ironically as my college career continued, I found myself falling in love with psychology and a desire to understand people.  I am now majoring in Psychology with minors in Sociology and Human Development and Family Studies.  

I strive to understand happiness and how everyone no matter socioeconomic class, age, and life experience can achieve happiness.  Therefore, I hope to create happiness through Dance/Movement Therapy.

"I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, and treating people the way you'd want to be treated and helping those in need.  To me, those are traditional values.  That's what I stand for.  I also believe in dance."  Ellen Degeneres

Joseph Loeffler  
Major: Applied Mathematics and Computer Science

Attending Minnesota State University- Mankato

Read Joseph's Biography

My major is Applied Mathematics and Computer Science with an emphasis in physics.

I was born in Chicago IL, but have moved and lived in over 10 places since then because my mother was a single parent looking for a job and a good place to raise her kids.  I decided to go to Stout because it was very close to home and my mothers long term sickness made me not want to venture too far from home in case she needed me.  My plan to is go to graduate school and hopefully attain my first PH.D in Mathematics and hopefully more to come.  I am not sure what job would be the best for me with the degree, people say I would make a great teacher, so that is an option, but I would like to try some research projects first.  I enjoy Philosophy and think that it is important to help keep you learning. 

"Think with your whole body." -Taisen Deshimaru

 December 2015 Graduates

 Esuvat Mollel
Major:  Business Administration and Hospitality Management

Attending University of Minnesota

Read Esuvat's Biography

My name is Esuvat Mollel and I am a Junior at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. I am a double major in Hotel, Restaurant, Tourism Management and Business Administration.  I am a hardworking, goal oriented individual. I am open to learning new things and I am always striving to become a better version of myself. My goal is to make a difference in the world and I know that every day is a brand new opportunity to do so. My research is focused on discovering if there is a need for educational programs to assist students in Tanzania to continue on from primary school to secondary school and University. This research will give me a better understanding of how I can help children from my home country when it comes to education.

 Alexa Evon DeMoe
Major: Vocational Rehabilitation

Attending University of Wisconsin-Stout

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alexa Demoe

My name is Alexa DeMoe. I am 22 years old and transferred to Stout in the spring of 2013. Before transferring I went through a long process of finding what I was passionate about and also finding out who I was.I went to the University of Eau Claire, Chippewa Valley Technical College, and then decided to move out to Las Vegas, Nevada in 2011. Most people ask me….Why? I have family who are in the military and have been stationed out in Las Vegas for many years so I got to move and really see a different culture and a different part of the world that I have not been able to see growing up in a town that's population is about 1,000 people. To say it was culture shock was an understatement, but the experiences that I gained have changed my life forever. I found out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life in the desert of Las Vegas! Living in Las Vegas it can be a hectic lifestyle and I watched many of my friends out there spin out of control. I found out that I loved talking and trying to understand somebody's life, through their eyes and not mine. Now at Stout I am a Vocational Rehabilitation major and concentrating in Psychiatric Rehabilitation. I am looking forward to getting my master's in Mental Clinical Health Counseling. After just completing a year and a half in my program and I am certain that this was the right career path for me and I finally feel like I am going to do something that has meaning to me. In one of my textbooks I read a great quote that really summed up what a counselor or therapist is and it really sums up exactly what I want to do with my life. The quote described counselors as, "socially sanctioned protectors of hope." How powerful?

 Ethan Tostrud
Major:  Business Administration

Read Ethan's Biography

I am expected to graduate in December of 2015 with a B.S in Business Administration. With the degree, I am looking forward to the opportunity to attend a graduate school to continue my aspirations in business law.  I am currently exploring schools with MBA's and/ or possibly a doctoral degree in business.

Before getting to the position in my career that I am in now, there were many challenges and obstacles to overcome. The major obstacle I face daily is a lifelong disability on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Not only has the need for alternative learning styles been challenging but everyday life and professional social situations needed to be improved upon.  My experiences before college included a lot of character building experiences such as being a first generation student in a lower middle class income family, which made college only a dream rather than a promise.  At this point in time, my family has informed me that among many family members I am the only one who is in working towards a college degree.  I would not have expected it nor would any family members would have expected that the person with an autism spectrum disorder can work hard and advance their career.  I look forward to continuing my aspirations in graduate school.

 Lydia Pfluger
Major:  Human Development and Family Studies

Attending University of Minnesota

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Hi my name is Lydia Pfluger. I am 22 years old and from Grantsburg, WI. I am a senior in the Human Development and Family Studies program with a minor in Applied Peace Studies and a concentration in Social Work. I have been involved in various extracurricular activities throughout my college career. I work in the UW-Stout Student Business Services office;I was the former president and treasurer of Stout Council on Family Relations, have volunteered in a support group at the Eau Claire County Jail, have been a mentor for underclassmen in the HDFS major, as well as others. For my future career I would like to advocate for social policy change and implementation to improve the wellbeing of individuals and families at the macro level. I have a particular interest in researching how childhood life experiences can lead to later adult criminal involvement and how policies are working to combat this issue. Currently I am interested in pursuing a dual Master's Degree in Social Work and Public Policy.

 May 2015 Graduates

 Carlea Jo Lauer
Major:  Vocational Rehabilitation

Attending University of Arizona

Read Carlea Jo's Biography

My name is Carlea Jo Lauer. I am a McNair Scholar and I will be forever thankful for that. I am a first generation, low income student. I have always wanted to go to Graduate School, but I never knew if it would be possible. Because of the McNair program, my dreams are becoming a reality! They have helped me apply to several different programs, pay for things, and the support I am receiving is phenomenal.  I am majoring in Vocational Rehabilitation with an emphasis in Rehabilitation Counseling. I am a third year student planning on graduating this summer. After I receive my diploma, I am continuing my education. I am applying to several different Graduate programs in the counseling field. I eventually want to be working with children with physical disabilities achieve a happy and healthy lifestyle. My career focus has helped me choose my research topic. I am planning on doing my research on children with spinal cord injuries. Working with others is something that I am extremely passionate about and I cannot see myself doing anything else.

 Zachary Atkinson

Major:  Applied Science

Attending University of Minnesota

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zachary atkinson

My name is Zach Atkinson. I am an applied science major. I am currently 20 years old. I grew up in a small town, Stewartville, Minnesota. I am a very friendly and easygoing person. I love to talk to people and socialize. My interests include sports, animals and anything where I can be with my friends. I played college football for one year at Wartburg College. I will listen to any kind of music or watch any kind of movie.

I consider myself a very ambitious and hardworking person. If I have a list of things I need to get done I like to do them right away. I once worked 115 hours in one week. Currently I am holding down two jobs, an internship, two classes and shadowing, while making time to volunteer, play softball and spend time with my girlfriend.

I plan on going to dental school when I graduate. I would like to go to the University of North Carolina. I just recently took a trip down there to tour the dental school and I loved it. I have shadowed two dentists and a dental lab up to this point. To prepare myself for dental school I have joined the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) and attended events such as the National Leadership Conference for dentistry and ASDA's waxing clinic. My plan is to open up my own private practice in either general dentistry or a specialized field.

 Stephanie Pozuelos
Major: Human Development and Family Studies

Attending Portland State University

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Stephanie Pozulelos

My Name is Stephanie Pozuelos I am a first generation student and currently a senior in the Human Development and Family Studies program at UW-Stout. Being involved on campus has been important to me since freshman year. Other than being a McNair Scholar, I was also formerly the President of the Latinos Unidos organization, and I am a part of Ally Initiatives where we promote civil rights and civic responsibility by moving social action and seeking common ground amongst students and the community. I am also a Spanish tutor for the Spanish department.

I originally came to UW-Stout for the Apparel Program but I had a change of heart and decided that I wanted to dig deeper and help people. The HDFS program at Stout has truly inspired me to apply what I have learned in class onto the people around me in everyday life.

After graduating UW-Stout, I want to pursue my Master's degree in Social Work.

 Samantha Fredrickson
Major:  Applied Science

Attending Missouri State University

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Samantha Fredrickson

As the second oldest of ten children (six girls and four boys) I grew to be very responsible at a young age and have strived to set a good example for my younger siblings. I am part of the first generation of my family to receive higher education. This fact has motivated me to reach beyond an undergraduate degree. I was homeschooled from 4th grade until I was old enough to attend high school in Elk Mound, WI. There, I discovered a passion for the sciences and was inspired to continue my education. I came to Stout with the intention of pursing medical school after I graduate so I enrolled in the Applied Science program with a concentration in biotechnology. However, as I have progressed in this program my goal has shifted from medical school to graduate school for molecular and cellular pathology. Currently, the research I am helping with looks into making hybridomas. I am ecstatic to be involved in such a proactive program as the McNair scholars and look forward to the challenges ahead applying to graduate school. 


Michael Bond
Major:  Vocational Rehabilitation

Attending University of Wisconsin-Stout

Read Michael's Biography

My name is Michael Bond. I am 21 years old and this will be my third year at UW-Stout. I am from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and I'm currently a cornerback on the UW-Stout football team. My major is Vocational Rehabilitation with a concentration in Rehabilitation Counseling. My first year at Stout my major was Business Administration, but I decided I wanted a career path where I could help others hands on and see the difference in their lives. Additionally, I wanted to narrow down the population I want to work with from trouble teens, family counseling, and/or mentally ill. When I learned about the McNair Program, I felt it would be a good way to conduct research and find an area that interest me. With my curious knowledge of the positives of counseling and passion for sports, I would like to combine the two and help professional athletes who are negatively impacting society. I plan to attend graduate school after I receive my undergraduate degree in May of 2015.

Amanda Smith
Major:  Environmental Science

Attending University of Wisconsin-Madison

Read Amanda's Biography

Amanda Smith

I am a junior working towards my degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Aquatic Biology and a minor in Geographic Information Systems. This year I am the American Fisheries Society treasurer of the Stout student chapter as well as a Student Center student manager.I also serve as the peer mentor for Environmental Science freshman of 2013 and an ambassador to the program. I grew up in North Hudson, Wisconsin and attended Hudson High School where I had the most amazing teachers to prepare me for college.

Growing up, my family and I often spent summers camping on the shores of the Chippewa Flowage in Hayward, Wisconsin. Both the St. Croix River and the flowage was where I learned to fish and developed a passion for aquatic resources. There was never really an "ah- ha" moment as to when and why I chose my major. You know, the moment when people say they knew they wanted to be an astronaut or a teacher. My passion for science, the environmental sciences in specific, was and still is a sort of development over time. As I am progressing through my semesters at Stout I am constantly reminded of how much knowledge is yet to be learned. I think this idea of knowledge can be applied to passion as well, because passion should never stop growing.

The environmentalist Baba Dioum once said, "In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught." This is why I am honored to be a participant of the McNair Program. I am looking forward to expanding upon my education by attending graduate school. In my future career as a graduate student and science professional I would like to contribute limnological research focusing on Northern Wisconsin lakes. I also hope to study artic ecosystems such as Antarctica and Greenland.

Wade Meyers 
Major: Applied Mathematics and Computer Science

Attending Colorado School of Mines-Golden

Read Wade's Biography


My name is Wade Meyers, and I am a first generation college student who grew up in a small central Wisconsin town called Plainfield. I am in my third year at UW-Stout and I am majoring in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. I made the decision to attend UW-Stout based on my love for math and computers. I liked how UW-Stout had a major that does an excellent job of combining the two subject areas. I enjoy challenges and the satisfaction that comes with making progress in or completing challenges. This is what makes programming and mathematics so rewarding for me.

Through UW-Stout I have been able to gain some undergraduate research experience. I looked at and compared many different interpolation methods and observed how they handled different sets of scattered data. I am extremely grateful for the experience I was able to get, and I hope that one day I am able to continue this type of work in graduate school or beyond. I also have a couple other jobs on campus. I work for ASK5000, the technology helpdesk at UW-Stout. Within this job I am able to problem solve with coworkers and clients to address some of UW-Stout's technology related issues. I am also a tutor on campus. I help students through ASPIRE-Student Support Services in the subject areas of math and computer science.

When I am not in class, working, or studying, I like to hang out with friends, play video games, watch movies, or watch football. I enjoy trying new things and love learning new card games or board games. One recreational thing I have always wanted to do, but have not yet is skydiving. 

December 2014 Graduates 

 Jasmine Valentine
Major:  Psychology

Attending University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Read Jasmine's Biography

My name is Jasmine Valentine and I am a marginalized, low-income, first-generation college student. After a lifetime of violence and poverty I became very interested in behavior and I developed a passion for activism and awareness.

My major is psychology with a minor in cognitive neuroscience. Throughout my academic career I have been a part of several research projects, including topics ranging from child abuse to Alzheimer's disease to student study and learning environments. I am very excited to start my new research project with the McNair Scholar's Program on the topic of the project-based education model titled EdVisions.

After I graduate this December (2014) I plan to pursue my Master's degree in school counseling at UW-Stout starting spring of 2015.

Tanya Riggs  
Major:  Psychology

Attending University of Wisconsin-Stout

Read Tanya's Biography

Tanya Riggs

I am Tanya Riggs.I am a Psychology major in my third year. I will be graduating in December 2014. I am interested in research along the lines of depression, alcohol use, self-esteem, and attachment. Most of all my interest is in mental health and I would like to pursue a career in therapy focusing on disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia. Upon graduation, I intend to continue my schooling into graduate school to receive my PsyD or PhD in Clinical Psychology. Once that degree is completed, I will work towards having a career as a therapist and eventually open my own practice.

Chad Biggers  
Major:  Business Administration

Attending Case Western University

Read Chad's Biography

 No bio

National McNair Conference 2013

Group Photo

May 2014 Graduates

Bao Lee
Major:  Vocational Rehabilitation

Attending University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Bao Lee

My name is Bao Lee. I am 21 years old and just transferred to UW-Stout in the fall of 2011. My major is Vocational Rehabilitation with a concentration in Substance Abuse Counseling. Before coming to UW-Stout I was at UW-Lacrosse majoring in Sociology and Pre-Physical Therapy. However, throughout my year there I found that I was more passionate about counseling, and hungered to understand the dynamics of addictions. The latter sparked an interest for me because I had to deal with a person I love go through many addictions. Therefore, I wanted to learn more and help others like myself, who have a loved one struggling. My career goals are to get my doctorate in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling. I am interested in researching about what makes people addicted to substance abuse and how mental illness is a factor too. Furthermore, I would like to research and understand more about how socioeconomic statuses affect substance abuse users. I am from a family of eight children and came to the United States as an immigrant in 1995. My ethnicity is Hmong and I’ve lived in Wausau, Wisconsin all my life.

Jesse Bruce
Major:  Psychology

Read Jesse's Biography

Jesse Bruce

I am a junior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Cognitive Neuroscience. For a while I wasn't sure of what I wanted to go to school for. I took generals at Anoka Ramsey Community College near my home town of Andover, Minnesota, and after taking a couple psych classes I realized that psychology really intrigued me. I transferred to UW-Stout in the fall of 2011. When I first transferred here I was still unsure of my exact career path, but I was thinking I'd like to become a marriage and family therapist. After taking some biology classes, and joining C-NERVE and getting involved in psychophysiological research I discovered I had a deep interest in the biological basis of psychology. I am involved with a few different research projects at UW-Stout, which has led me to realize counseling isn't the field for me. I love doing research because I'm always thinking about why things are the way they are. Why do we dream? What is consciousness, and where does it come from? Do we have free will? These are just a few of the questions I wonder about, and would like to investigate further. When I was a kid, to my mother's dismay, I would get up out of bed numerous times a night to ask my mom questions that were racing through my mind. I guess I'm still the same way, but my questions aren't as easily answered.  

After I leave UW-Stout I plan to peruse a PhD and become a Neuropsychologist, combining my love of psychology and biology. I feel very fortunate that I transferred to UW-Stout, and became a McNair Scholar because the real world research experience and career guidance I've received has been indispensable in helping me to achieve my goal of going on to a PhD program.

Over this past summer I had a very unique work experience; I worked on dissecting a cadaver to preserve the brain, spinal cord and spinal nerves for class demonstrational purposes. In my free time I like to go out fishing in my kayak on Lake Menomin and the Red Cedar River, as well as go biking. I also enjoy reading (Game of Thrones is one of my favorite series), gaming, and watching Survivor. If I had to sum myself up in one sentence I would have to borrow a quote from one of my inspirations: "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious."

Justin Nelson
Major:  Applied Mathematics and Computer Science

Read Justin's Biography

Justin Nelson

My name is Justin Nelson. I am a first generation college student. I'm majoring in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science and Game Design and Development. I've always had a love for computers and how they work; when I was younger I would take them apart and try to put them back together, never getting it quite right though. After graduating from Rhinelander High School in 2010, I discovered how much I actually enjoyed academia, I was never the student who disliked school, quite the contrary I enjoyed it. After going to Arizona for a semester and then transferring back home and finally then to Stout, I am a traditional student who goes to school, hangs out with friends, worked a college job over the summer, watches TV, plays video games, swims, goes jetskiing, and just enjoy being a young adult. 

I've always had big dreams for myself, I want to own my own company and I want to help other people have greater access to higher education. I was lucky that in summer 2012 I was able to work as a Research Associate at NASA Langley in Hampton, VA. I worked with some of the most amazing people who inspired me to push for even greater things than I could have imaged for myself. It was an experience of a lifetime that has shaped my future forever. I was honored when Dr. Tafalla asked me to join the McNair program. McNair is giving me all the tools to achieve my dreams and help make my life and hopefully others better. The McNair program has given me a sense of belonging, humbled me, and supported me through the scary process that is applying to graduate school. If you see me around please say "hi", I love meeting new people!

Kayte Todd
Major:  Fine Arts

Read Kayte's Biography

Kayte Todd
My name is Katye Todd and I am currently a senior here at UW-Stout studying graphic design. I grew up just South of Menomonie in a small town called Elmwood. To experience a different culture outside of Wisconsin I decided to take a full year and study abroad in Australia. While in the land down under, I was able to meet and learn a lot about not only people I would have never met in Wisconsin, but also myself. I hope to take what I learned during my study abroad and apply it to my college career and soon grad school. I am so lucky to be apart of the McNair scholars program. Had I not been given this opportunity I am not sure if I would have pursued school further after graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in graphic design. After graduation, I hope to pursue an MFA in Design or a degree in architecture. My research interests include typography, architecture, art history, and studio art. I am truly inspired by all the McNair Scholars with such varying majors and research curiosities and hope to be a contribution to the group.

Logan Michels

Major:  Psychology

Attending Minnesota State University-Mankato

Read Logan's Biography

Logan Michels web picture

My name is Logan Michels and I was raised in Colfax, Wisconsin. I will graduate in May 2014 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Human Resource Management. My McNair research was aimed at examining the relationship between psychological flow and achievement goals. I will be presenting the results at UW-Stout Research Day and at the annual Midwestern Psychological Association conference.

Next fall I will be starting a Master's program where I will study industrial-organizational psychology. I am very interested in this field and hope to learn more about the interaction between individuals and the workplace. Work is such a large part of our lives and I think it will be valuable to learn about how individuals and the workplace can influence one another. Within this field, my primary areas of interest are motivation and decision making.

The McNair staff and my mentor have been very valuable resources for me throughout this process and I have been fortunate to have such a strong support system. My involvement in McNair will help me to be successful in graduate school because it has offered me a structured approach towards conducting research. This approach has helped me to gain competence in conducting research and I will be able to use this to my advantage as I continue my education. As a member of McNair, I have also been able to learn more about what to expect in graduate school, and it has given me the flexibility to visit different schools so I can make the right decision about which program to attend. 


Mary Marchiafava
Major:  Applied Science

Read Mary's Biography

Mary Marchiafava

My name is Mary Marchiafava. Honestly, it's not as hard to pronounce the last name as you think-it is exactly how it looks: the month of March-ia-fava, and yes, its origin is from Italy. I was raised in Mounds View, MN, and I am a first generation college student. I am nineteen years old; my birthday is March 24, 1992. I come from humble backgrounds: my mother was the daughter of a dairy farmer, who only attended college for a semester, and she is currently book keeper of our public middle school, and my father is a home delivery milkman that never finished his second year associates degree. I live in a family of six, and I am the second oldest out of my siblings. I feel honored in contributing and being a part of the McNair Scholars Legacy. My major is Applied Science, and I'd like to continue my studies by either pursuing Library Science and becoming a Specialty Librarian, or learning more about botany and continuing to graduate school learning about plant sciences research. I would like to make a positive impact with my time by contributing to society with the best of my talents. My research interests currently involve developing ways to use tissue culture extracts to form Callus Tissues from the plant Sarracinea Purpurea (common name: Purple Pitcher plant).

Some inspiring words I enjoy recalling: "you don't have to see the whole staircase, just the first step." I have grown up not fully understanding what I would like to do with my life, or where my life was heading (I still don't know all the details), so for everyone out there that still does not know where they're headed, that's ok! Honesty, loyalty, and hard work are the three most important qualities that I'd like to keep consistent in my life. I am involved in some groups on campus including The University Honors Program, Stout MTG, Stout Swim Club, Sustainable Agriculture Education Association. I also contribute with volunteer research work in the Greenhouse. During my free time I enjoy watching anime, reading manga, reading in general; writing creative stories, watching TV (Sports included), video games, listening to classical rock, and especially enjoy socializing.

Michael Krueger
Major:  Applied Science

Read Michael's Biography

No  Bio

Pang Vang
Major:  Fine Arts

Attending Hunter College

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Pang Vang

As a child growing up in a family of seven sons and three daughters my parents amazingly have never allowed us to feel financial strain. My father and mother came to America with my two older brothers, leaving behind their homeland in hopes that their children could live a better life. Once in a while my father takes my hands, and I feel the coarse texture of his palms. He tells me that I am his hope, and that I must succeed so I will not have to live by labor. Despite moments of difficulty I go on because of my father and realizing that every human being deserves an education. Through education lives are changed and eyes opened to see—unclouded by ignorance. As an Art Education major I hope to bring education to students of all backgrounds, cultures, and countries, because Art is universal. I hope that through my pursuit of a PhD in my field I will be able to accomplish all this and more. 

Samantha Wieczorek
Major:  Business Administration and Supply Chain Management

Read Samantha's Biography

Samantha Wieczorek

I have a passion for innovation. The desire to create positive change all around me is overwhelming. I am a strong believer that change is beneficial and that there are always opportunities for you, you just have to find them. My name is Samantha Wieczorek and I am a double major in Supply Chain Management and Business Administration with a minor in Economics. Since leaving my hometown of Mora, Minnesota and coming here to Stout I have found what makes me passionate about life. This new found love led me to start my own research project regarding the manufacturing sector within the U.S. and researching the effect of it upon Gross State Product. I have expanded upon this by looking into the variables of whether our economy will ever see the outsourced jobs again. My academic desire to excel and my passion to research is what led me to the McNair Scholar program. The McNair Scholar program is the perfect push I needed to continue my education after my undergraduate degree. It is also a wonderful opportunity to meet talented students who share a passion about researching. I am very active outside of academics as well. I am Co-Chair on the UW-Stout Dance Ensemble Executive Board, as well as a choreographer and dancer. I also am a member of the Academic Honor Society where I get the opportunity to volunteer at the Dunn County Animal Humane Society. I have also recently become the Secretary for the Stout Sport Clubs. I'm looking forward to being involved in the McNair program and furthering my education.

2013 Graduates

Diane Witcher
Major:  Fine Arts

Attending University of Texas-Austin

Read Diane's Biography

Diana Witcher

I am a junior seeking a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Graphic Design and a minor in Environmental Studies. I am excited to be in such a dynamic field. I truly enjoy learning and have found college to be an exciting opportunity. I am a non-traditional, first generation college student. 

I have studied diverse subjects including color, life drawing, poetry, medicinal plants, sustainable design and gender studies. Most compelling are the places where these subjects overlap. Art, architecture and the beauty of the natural world continue to inspire me.

I see the arts as the practice of visual communication. Words and images have a profound impact upon both individuals and society. Many of the problems that we experience in society are due to a breakdown in communication. Visual communication is a connection between people and information, and can help to foster true understanding. 

The goal of an advanced degree has brought a new focus to my studies and helped me to see that becoming educated can be an act of service. I am interested in studying color, light, typography, sustainable design, art history and the social impact of visual communication. As an artist and designer, I hope to be a leader toward a sustainable future.

Kaitlyn Olson
Major:  Psychology

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Kaitlyn Olson

My name is Kaitlyn Olson. I was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I have one sister who just began her freshman year at University of North Dakota. I am proud to say that I am the first in my family to successfully make it through more than one year of college. I am a junior at UW-Stout and my major is psychology with a minor in cognitive neuroscience. I absolutely love being a psychology major. I have always had a passion for helping people and after having a rough start to my life, my passion is to be able to help children suffering from mental disorders. Although I am still trying to decide where my research interests lie, I am interested in psychological disorders. Once I graduate, I would love to be accepted into a doctorate program for clinical psychology. With the support of the McNair Program I am sure that my dreams can come true.

Lara Dodge
Major:  Psychology

Attending University of Colorado-Colorado Springs

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Lara Dodge

My name is Lara Dodge. I am starting my fourth year here at UW-Stout. My major is Psychology with a minor in history. I was raised near the town of Prairie Farm, WI, and decided to attend Stout because of the wonderful psychology department. My plan is to get my Ph.D in clinical psychology and work in the field with people who have severe mental disorders and possibly do research on how to better integrate them into society.

People have often asked me why my minor is history. Honestly, it is because I am passionately interested in finding out why people did what they did in history. Anyone that knows anything about history knows that it is not and never will be a lineup of names and dates like some sort of binary coding that maps the past. It is an erratic mess of events created by how people thought at the time and how they acted on those thoughts. I want to understand the psychology of the past to help me understand the psychology of the present and attempt to apply it to the future.

I applied to become a McNair Scholar to help me reach my long term goal to become a graduate student. I feel it will challenge me to reach my full potential. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the McNair community and to have the chance to contribute to it.

Alex Pishler
Major:  Psychology 

Attending University of Wisconsin-Stout

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Alexa Levie
Major:  Applied Science

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Alexa Levie

As an undergraduate obtaining a bachelors degree in Applied Science with a concentration in Biotechnology, I am extremely excited for what the future has to hold in my field of study. I am passionate about helping people, the community, and the environment. I hope to apply the knowledge that I learn at UW-Stout to my future student career in a PhD program and make a difference as female scientist. I am taking advantage of every opportunity that crosses my path to better myself as a student and am inspired everyday by the world around me. With the guidance of the fantastic faculty at UW-Stout, I feel that I am taking the right steps in preparing myself for the next educational journey!

Kang Vang
Major:  Applied Science

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Kang Vang

My parents are Hmong immigrants that came to the United States in 1980. They came with the hope of freedom and the chance to dream. I admire and appreciate the courage and determination that my parents possess. I am currently a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. I am majoring in Applied Science with a concentration in Biotechnology. Following the same determination my parents have, I plan to go on to graduate school and become a forensic science technician. My family is my most significant motivation to pursue a PhD. Being a part of the McNair Scholars Program is valuable to me because it will challenge me and prepare me for graduate school.

Callie Bernier
Major:  Applied Science

Graduated from University of Edinburgh Scotland-Masters Degree

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Callie Bernier

As a second year undergraduate student at UW-Stout, I am majoring in Applied Science with a concentration in Environmental Science and a minor in Sustainable Design and Development. Growing up in a very artistic family, I have always found design enjoyable and easy.  For this reason, I was originally interested in coming to UW-Stout for design. However, after working for a landscaping company and greenhouse for five years, I discovered my love for nature and plants. My goal is to go on to graduate school for landscaping architecture which will combine my two largest passions in life. Being the person I am though, I want to do more than just design yards and parks. I would like to make a difference by doing more beneficial endeavors such as environmental restoration.   This is why I chose the major and minor I did. I believe UW-Stout and the McNair Scholars program will give me the background knowledge necessary to continue my education. Currently, I am studying abroad at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and will be at the University of Otago in New Zealand next semester. I love to travel and learn about other cultures.  The experience is a life altering one which I will never forget. Upon my return, I look forward to completing my research and undergoing the process of applying to graduate schools with the assistance of the McNair program.  The privilege of being a member is truly an honor which I greatly appreciate.

Tanner Tomesh
Major:  Game Design and Development

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Tanner Tomesh

My name is Tanner Tomesh. I am currently enrolled at UW-Stout, studying for a Bachelor of Science in Game Design and Development with a concentration in Computer Science and a minor in mathematics. For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed playing video games. Over the years my respect for the industry has grown immensely. I've done research about the history of the industry, and have learned that it has had a massive impact on the improvement of computer-based technologies, and has shaped its own culture of gamers.  Passion and respect for video games has driven me to want to make a difference in the gaming industry and to give back to the industry after enjoying playing games for so long. My research interests involve conducting research on successful and unsuccessful teaching methods, why some work while others fail, and how they could be incorporated into video games. The challenge would be to create a game that gives players an incentive to play while still being able to teach them as effectively, if not better, than an average textbook would. In doing so, I hope to be able to open new doors for the industry and help it remain as successful as it is today, as well as improve the educational system by offering it technologies that have become embedded in students' everyday lives. Almost every student is now a digital native having grown up their whole life surrounded by technology. I believe that video games can become a viable teaching method that will allow students to stay focused and give them the hands on experience they need to receive a strong education.

Tanya Stoeklen
Major:  Vocational Rehabilitation

Attending Southern Illinois University

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Tanya Stoeklen

Being a first generation college student who has an associate degree in Cosmetology; going back for a bachelor degree was a big decision. Growing up in a small town, there were not many people who had college aspirations. My mother could not afford to send me, and although it was an ambition, it was a door I was afraid to open. When I finally decided I would try for my associates I was very nervous and not confident that I could make it through the program; but once I started, I kicked myself for not finding a way sooner. After my son was diagnosed with autism I decided to go back for my bachelor's degree. I started out at Chippewa Valley Technical College and transferred to UW-Stout after one semester. I am double majoring in Vocational Rehabilitation and Special Education cross- categorical. I am very interested in autism research and would like to be a future advocate for this incredible community. I always had intentions on getting my Master's Degree, but a PhD seemed unattainable until I became a McNair scholar. With the guidance the program provides, the road to a good graduate school looks well paved and I am grateful for this opportunity.

2012 Graduates

Kirk Coughlin
Major:  Applied Science

Attended University of Alabama

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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.

Lacy Holzer
Major:  Dietetics

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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. 

Susan LoRusso
Major:  Food Systems and Technology

Graduated from University of Minnesota-Masters Degree

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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.

Houa Lee
Major:  Human Development and Family Studies

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Josephine Kilde
Major:  Information and Communication Technologies

Graduated from University of Colorado-Boulder-PhD

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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.

Linnea Heintz
Major:  Psychology

Graduated from University of Arkansas-Masters Degree

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Linnea Heintz

I am a nontraditional student majoring in psychology, with a minor in biology. I aspire to make a difference in the world, pursuing a PhD in psychology with a focus in oncology. Psychoneuroimmunology is also an area of research that intrigues me. I would like to be able to test for a possible correlation between stress and immunity. 
I grew up in southern Wisconsin and spent my summers up in Phillips, Wisconsin with my grandparents. I live on a small hobby farm in the rural community of Hawkins, Wisconsin with my three teenagers. We are self-sufficient—raising the foods that we eat. Our pet raccoon, Nermal, who now weighs in at 54 pounds is spoiled rotten. My husband works over the road, getting home about once a month.
I am a 3rd year senior, highly determined to get my degree. I travel 1,000 miles a week—a daily four hour round trip—to and from Stout. I did not have the opportunity to pursue my dream 25 years ago. Life's lessons and present day opportunities have helped me to be where I am today. With the help of the McNair Scholars program, I hope to see my dream come to fruition.

Jessica Boone
Major:  Psychology

Attending Emporia State University

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Jessica Boone

I am in my third year at Stout. I am also a second year as a resident advisor. I have lived in Wisconsin for seven years in Marshfield. As a freshman at UW-Stout, I received the WiscAMP Fellowship. At that time I started researching the effects of Hmong medicinal plant compounds on endothelial cells, which are the cells that line your blood vessels. So far in my research I have not gotten to the point of adding medicinal compounds to the cells. I have just been enhancing my cell culture skills, but this year I will hopefully get to try out some compounds. 

I have always wanted to get my PhD. I hope to go to graduate school near my family in Iowa or Nebraska.  McNair will help me with this by providing opportunities I probably wouldn't have otherwise had. Also, the McNair Scholars program will give me a solid idea of what graduate school is like before I get there and by preparing me thoroughly.

Jamal Khan
Major:  Management

Graduated from UW-Stout-Masters Degree

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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.

2011 Graduates

Keila Tirado (Leist)
Major:  Technical Communications

Attending University of St. Thomas

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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
Major:  Psychology

Attending Ball State University

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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.

Mai Cha Lee (Marks)
Major:  Human Development and Family Studies

Read Mai Cha's Biography

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.

Jane Anderson
Major:  Psychology

Graduated from UW-Stout- Masters Degree

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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.

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