Three West Virginia State Students Awarded Prestigious McNair Scholarship

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363
Dec. 13, 2013
Three West Virginia State Students Awarded Prestigious McNair Scholarship

INSTITUTE, W.Va.West Virginia State University (WVSU) undergraduate students Erica Bickham, Vasillios Dianellos and Shayla Owens have been awarded the prestigious McNair Scholarship for the 2014 academic year.

 “I am extremely honored and grateful to be accepted into the McNair Scholars program,” said Dianellos, a senior majoring in Biology at WVSU. “This opportunity will help me prepare for graduate school in a number of ways.  I am looking forward to beginning my research and taking advantage of all they have to offer.”

The McNair Scholars Program prepares undergraduate students from WVSU, Bluefield State College and Concord University for the graduate school application process and overall experience. This preparation includes a faculty-supervised research project, seminars and workshops, and the opportunity to attend and present their research at national and regional meetings, as well as visiting prospective graduate programs.

 “Earning the McNair Scholarship is a huge blessing and something that I plan to take full advantage of,” said Owens, a senior majoring in English at WVSU. “I'm excited to spend some of my summer at Concord University and about all the opportunities the scholarship will provide.”

Bickham, a junior studying Biology at WVSU, added, “I am very excited about this opportunity to be part of such a prestigious program and to be given the chance to research what I am passionate about.”

The McNair Scholars Program is a federal TRIO program funded by the U.S. Department of Education. It is named in honor of Dr. Ronald E. McNair, a NASA astronaut and physicist who was a recognized expert in the field of laser physics. In 1984, McNair became the second African-American in space.

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.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Honors Program students to develop invaluable skills sought by graduate schools and get financial support for their research,” said Dr. Genia Sklute, WVSU Honors Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Chemistry. “This is the first time since 2009 that students from WVSU were awarded the McNair Scholarship, and I am happy to see this growing interest in research on our campus.”

The WVSU Honors Program offers enriched academic opportunities for students with high academic achievements.  For additional information about the Honors Program, contact Dr. Sklute at
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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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