Aug. 2, 2011
University of Minnesota football player D.L. Wilhite has spent much of his summer preparing for the 2011 Golden Gopher football season. But he has also spent a considerable number of hours working on a presentation he unveiled to the public Tuesday as part of his participation in the TRIO Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program.
Wilhite's presentation was called "Global City Making in Cairo: The Roots and Routes of a New Urban Politics." His presentation on Tuesday was part of the University of Minnesota's McNair Scholars Program and its Nineteenth Annual Poster Presentation and Reception for student participants and their faculty mentors.
"It was an honor to be selected for such a prestigious program like the McNair Scholars Program," Wilhite said. "It has been a very challenging summer working on my research project. But it has been extremely rewarding in my growth as a scholar. Hopefully this will help open more doors for me in the future."
Wilhite's future could include teaching others like him down the road.
"My dream is to receive a Ph.D. in History," Wilhite said. "I want to become a professor and bring new perspectives on African and Middle Eastern societies to students."
The McNair Scholars Program may just help him with that dream. It is designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities.
McNair participants are either first-generation college students with financial need, or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic potential. The goal of the McNair Scholars Program is to increase graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented segments of society.
The program is named after Ronald Erwin McNair, who was born in 1950 in Lake City, S.C. While in junior high, he was inspired to persevere in his studies by his family and a teacher who recognized potential in him. He was valedictorian of Carver High School in 1967, graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T in 1971 and earned his doctorate in laser physics from MIT in 1976. He was a Presidential Scholar, Ford Foundation Fellow, National Fellowship Fund Fellow and NATO Fellow. He was selected by NASA for the space shuttle program in 1978. He was the second African-American to fly in space in 1984. Two years later, he was selected to serve aboard the ill-fated U.S. Challenger space shuttle. He was killed instantly when the Challenger exploded just after liftoff. Following his death, members of Congress provided funding for the Tonald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program.