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Celebrating our McNair Scholars Program spring 2021 graduates

Published: 11/19/2021

McNair Scholars present at Gannon's Gallery of Engagement.

McNair Scholars present at Gannon's Gallery of Engagement.

The Gannon University TRIO McNair Scholars Program was founded in 1996 in honor of Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D., the laser physicist and Space Shuttle Challenger astronaut, and funded by the U.S. Department of Education in October of 2017.

The program annually serves 25 eligible undergraduate Gannon students who are interested in engaging in undergraduate research and other scholarly activities, pursuing a graduate education, and earning a doctorate degree. 

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.

In this post, we’re bringing you highlights of some our Spring 2021 McNair Scholars Program graduates and their incredible achievements.


Vera Ampadu ’21

Ampadu received her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and human performance from Gannon. In addition to being a McNair Scholar, she participated in Give Day and was involved with the African Student Organization, where she held three executive board positions. She also volunteered at Erie High School.

As a scholar, Ampadu participated in research around eating disorders under the mentorship of Suzanne Kitts, associate professor of sport and exercise science. Ampadu intends to continue her research through graduate school.

Reganne O’Brien ’21

O’Brien earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration and a minor in pre-law. While at Gannon, she was involved with the McNair Scholars Program, Student Support Services, and Phi Eta Sigma and Lambda Sigma Societies. O’Brien also created the nonprofit organization, Glamorous Gutless Girls, which has a chapter at Gannon and other colleges.

As a scholar, O’Brien participated in two different areas of research. The first was on digestive diseases in college students, and the second was a study on the quality of life for those who live with chronic illnesses and mental health conditions. William McAndrew, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of finance and economics, mentored her in her research. O’Brien had the opportunity to present her research at the UCLA McNair Conference and the University of North Texas McNair Conference.

After graduating, O’Brien plans on expanding Glamorous Gutless Girls as well as her second nonprofit organization, the Warrior in HER. She is pursuing her master’s degree in public health this fall. Upon completion of her master's degree, she hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in public health and teach at a university. 

Danielle Samuel ’21

Samuel earned her bachelor’s degree in biology. In addition to being a McNair Scholar, she was involved with the acrobatics and tumbling team, the TRAVEL program, the Black Student Union, Give Day, and held a summer internship.

As a scholar, Samuel participated in research on macro-invertebrates’ relations to stream quality with Christopher Dempsey, Ph.D., associate professor and director of biology, as well as Gregory Andraso, Ph.D. professor of biology. Samuel was scheduled to present her research at the University of Maryland Conference but had to cancel due to COVID- 19. However, she did present at a local conference at the Tom Ridge Center. After graduating, Samuel plans to work in the health care field, travel, take care of her family members, and build experience before applying to physician assistant school.

Fatuma Nuhow ’21

Nuhow earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Arabic language minor. During her time at Gannon, she was involved with Active Minds as an executive board member, the Student Success Center, and the McNair Scholars Program.

As a scholar, Nuhow participated in research with Dr. Leonard. Her research focused on the rates of depression and anxiety in immigrants and their children based on cultural backgrounds. Upon graduating, Fatuma plans to attend graduate school for applied behavior analysis and become a school counselor or licensed professional counselor. Before attending graduate school, she would like to take time off to gain more experience in her career field.


"Whether or not you reach your goals in life depends entirely on how well you prepare for them and how badly you want them." - Ronald E. McNair