McNair Program’s Value From a Senior Lobo

Over the course of five years, Sul Ross has provided me with many opportunities to pursue my interests and discover my passions. One of the opportunities that I have been fortunate to participate in was conducting research during the summer of 2016 as a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. At the time, there was no indication of the impact that being in this program would have on my life in the forms of working with and studying arthropods on decaying pig corpses and traveling across the country to present my research at scientific conferences, to meeting incredible scientists of every age, gender and ethnicity. It was from these experiences that other opportunities arose, including the chance to travel to other colleges and expand on and experience new forms of science and research. I applied for and was accepted into two different National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REUs). These NSF-REUs lasted a period of 10 weeks during summer 2017 and 2018. I worked with and learned from graduate students who are in my field of interest. These were humbling, eye opening experiences that taught me that I will never know everything and that I am the one who determines how much I learn. In addition to these lessons, I was also able to discern that pursuing a PhD is a viable option for me. I realized I would very much enjoy conducting research and presenting my findings as well as sharing my experiences with others in hopes of inspiring them to be open to any opportunities presented to them. Currently, I am working on graduate school applications in hopes of starting the fall of 2019 semester as a PhD student. In closing, none of this would have been feasible without the McNair Program or the network of incredible people that I have met along the way, who inspire and push me to be the best version of myself. I could not be more grateful.

Yelixza Avila is a senior at Sul Ross majoring in both Chemistry and Biology. She was accepted into the McNair Scholars program in 2016, and will be graduating this May 2019.

Inquiries about the McNair Scholars Program can be directed to Program Director Dominique Vargas,

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