CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with West Texas A&M University are seeking student applications for the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, or the McNair Scholars Program.

The McNair Scholars Program is named after Ronald McNair, one of six crew members who was on the Challenger spacecraft when it exploded on Jan. 28, 1986. According to a news release, McNair’s Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program was started by the U.S. Congress, aiming to increase the attainment of graduate degrees by students from “underrepresented segments of society.”

The McNair Scholars Program at West Texas A&M University was first established in 1999. The release states that 251 students have participated in the program since its inception, with 144 going on to earn post-baccalaureate degrees. Only 14 students are chosen to join the program each year.

“Students who take part in the McNair Scholars Program gain invaluable skills and benefit from intensive mentorship,” Victoria Salas, the director of the McNair Scholars program at West Texas A&M University, said in the release. “It’s highly competitive, as well it should be: Like Dr. McNair himself was, these students are some of our best and brightest.” 

According to the release, students can apply for the program through March 1. If selected, students will receive a mentor helping guide them through a research project, have access to seminars on the graduate school admission process, research methods and financial aid. Students will also receive a stiped, a research supply allowance as well as numerous tutoring and academic counseling opportunities.