Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Susan Epps

Committee Members

Terence Hicks, Pamela Scott


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the lived experiences of former McNair Program participants at a regional postsecondary institution in northeast Tennessee. More specifically, the study examined how past participants of a McNair Program perceived their program experiences related to their post-undergraduate educational endeavors and career pursuits. Although research has been conducted on McNair Programs, no research has been conducted on the lived experiences of individuals who participated in a McNair Program in northeast Tennessee within the last two decades, and little to no research has been conducted to identify the program components that former participants believe benefitted them in their post-undergraduate academic and career pursuits. This research involved interviews with ten former participants of a McNair Program at a university in northeast Tennessee. Participants described their experiences as they related to three key phases in their lives: their undergraduate years, their post-undergraduate academic experiences, and their post-undergraduate professional experiences. They shared how participating in the McNair Program provided them with opportunities to develop their academic skills, connect with students from similar backgrounds, and learn more about graduate school. Participants spoke positively about the summer trip offered to them at the end of the pre-research internship as well as the support they received from program facilitators and mentors that encouraged them to persist. They described the rigorous pacing and increased pressure to succeed as disadvantages of the program. Participants also commented on the program components they found most beneficial as they pursued graduate education and went on to their chosen career fields. Several findings emerged related to existing literature, including help overcoming barriers, support and persistence, developing academic skills and preparing for graduate school, confidence and development as a scholar, ability to adapt to graduate school, and educational and career success. Recommendations for further research include examining how attending or not attending the site-selected institution during the academic year-long internship impacts participant experiences and replicating the study at other McNair Programs to better understand the lived experiences of program participants nationally.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.