When the previous incarnation of the McNair grant ended in 2003, Xia Xiong-Vang was among the 12 program scholars who finished out the fall and spring semesters with funding from Augsburg. Now the McNair grant is back and so is Xia, but this time as a program administrator and not a student.
Before studying with the McNair Scholars program at Augsburg, Xia did not plan on going to graduate school. Neither of her parents had attended college, making Xia a first-generation college student. “I heard about the McNair Scholars program but did not think much about it until I was encouraged by staff and faculty members to apply. Their encouragement and support meant a lot because they really believed in me, and that made me believe in myself. The McNair Scholars program gave me an opportunity I would not have had otherwise.”
Xia graduated from Augsburg with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2005 and from the University of Minnesota with a master’s degree in counseling and student personnel psychology in 2007. She is now the Assistant Director for the McNair Scholars program at Augsburg.
“If you are thinking about pursuing a graduate degree, McNair is the program,” says Xia. “The McNair Scholars program is a stepping stone for students who are thinking about obtaining a graduate degree. It has changed my life.” The McNair Scholars Program is made up of students from all walks of life, many sharing similar struggles. “The best part about the McNair Scholars Program is that it is more than a program, it is a community where students support each other. Once you become a McNair scholar, you are a McNair scholar for life, and that is incredible!”
“Many McNair scholars such as myself did not believe that graduate school was possible, but students from the McNair Scholars program at Augsburg have ended up obtaining or currently pursuing graduate degrees at places like Princeton, Harvard and Yale — and it all starts here.”