McNair Scholars Program


Alonzo Z Beckham

Major: Management

Laura Castro

Majors:  Biology - Honors Research, French Studies

Laura Castro is double majoring in biology and French studies. Her hometown is Cedar Falls, IA. Laura is involved in the Beta Beta Beta Honor Biology Society and CATS (Connecting Alumni to Students). She also is a Biology Ambassador. She has received the following recognitions: the Physics Scholar Award, the Distinguished Scholar Award, and the Multicultural Scholar Award. Her future plans are to continue her education in the biology field. Laura joined the McNair Scholars Program to have the opportunity of conducting research first-hand to expand her horizons.

Michael Creech

Major:  Psychology

Michael Creech is majoring in psychology and has already completed his A.A. degree prior. Michael is involved in many organizations including the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, the Bowling Club and is a Research Volunteer. After he graduates from UNI, he plans to further his education in an Industrial Psychology graduate program. He joined McNair because he believed the experience would be very beneficial.

Brittnie Dotson

Major:  Biology
Minor:  Chemistry

Brittnie Dotson is majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry and is originally from Gary, IN. She is heavily involved in many activities at UNI including:  Ethnic Student Promoters, BSU and Biology Ambassadors. She also volunteers at the Covenant Medical Center and Sartori Memorial Hospital. She has been a recipient of the Bridge Scholar Award. Brittnie's plans after college include becoming a physician assistant and then furthering her education to become a pediatrician. She joined the McNair Scholars program because she said it would be a great program to help her get ready for graduate school since she will be the first in her family to attend a graduate level program.

Vanessa Espinoza

Major:  Spanish Teaching

Vanessa Espinoza is majoring in spanish teaching and is originally from Conesville, IA. She is very involved on-campus and in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area. She currently is the Vice President of Sigma Delta Pi, a spanish tutor, a tutor for Burmese refugees at USCRI in Waterloo, an interviewer at the Center for Social and Behavioral Research, and was a Camp Adventure Intern in 2013. She also is involved with Art for El Salvador, an organization that raises money to support mission work. Her future goal is to work at a low-income school for a couple of years and then go into a doctoral program that focuses on Latin American and Border Studies. She joined McNair due to previously being a TRIO student and is thankful for these programs, which have helped her become successful in her academic career. She believes McNair is a wonderful opportunity to help stick her feet into graduate school. Vanessa has also had the experience of working abroad in Germany, is the founder of the Vanessa Espinoza Scholarship, and has received the Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award and Mariah Becker Volunteer Leadership Award.

Norma Garcia


Mindy N Guajardo


Tasha L Hancock

Majors:  Psychology, Biology

Dylan Keller

Graduate Student

Brittany N Maher

Major:  Psychology

Brittany Maher is a psychology major and originally from San Antonio, Texas. She is involved in the Psychology Club at UNI. She joined McNair in order to help her further her educational development and guide her through preparation for grad school.

Virginia Mccall

Major:  Actuarial Science

Virginia Mccall is an actuarial science major and is from Memphis, Tennessee. She currently is a prospective NAPE (National Alliances for Partnerships in Equity) affiliate and involved with the Hawkeye Community College STEM club. She also has previously volunteered with the Boys and Girls club as a Math Club Lead. Her future plans are to obtain a Masters in Actuarial Science and go on to earn her Ph.D. She joined the McNair Scholars program because she believes in educating underrepresented groups in STEM, and that McNair offers a support for being the only African American in her classes.

Manuel Salinas

Graduate Student

Stephanie Strong

Major:  Psychology
Minor:  Anthropology
Certificate:  Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Stephanie Strong is majoring in psychology, minoring in anthropology and working toward a certificate in industrial/organizational psychology. Her hometown is Montpelier, IA. On campus, she is a part of the Psychology Club, Psy Chi Honor Society, and works at the Center for Social and Behavioral Research. As a first generation college student, she often felt behind other students in their knowledge of graduate study and the resources that are made available to students. Stephanie joined McNair in order to gain this knowledge and to better aid in the grueling application process for graduate school.

Robin Wilson

Major:  Criminology
Minors:  Politics, Law

Robin Wilson is majoring in criminology and minoring in politics and law. Robin joined McNair because she wanted the opportunity to do summer research and obtain assistance as she pursues an advanced degree.