Department of Economics

McNair Scholars

SMU Economics Department Is Home to Two McNair Scholars

Before meeting a tragic end, Ronald Ervin McNair was a nationally recognized African-American physicist in the 1970s and 80s. Born in 1950, he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1971 and Ph.D. in 1976 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Physics. McNair received three honorary doctorates, to go along with many other commendations. He was one of just a few people out of thousands to be selected for the astronaut program in 1978, as NASA was recruiting minority candidates. In 1984, he became the second African-American to fly in space, on the space shuttle Challenger’s fourth mission. In January 1986, McNair was one of seven people aboard the Challenger when it broke apart a little over a minute into its flight, killing all of them. Shortly after his death, amendments to the Higher Education Act provided the creation of a program under his name. In 1989, the first programs were established with grants being made to 14 institutions. Today, the program exists on over 100 college campuses in the country.

The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate achievement program prepares participants for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. Students accepted into the program are from disadvantaged backgrounds and have demonstrated strong academic potential. Institutions work closely with McNair scholars with academic counseling and mentoring throughout their studies to the completion of an advanced degree. The goal is to increase the attainment of Ph.D degrees by students from underrepresented areas of society.

Zachene Crooks and Jamie Reedy are McNair scholars in the MA program in the Department of Economics. Zachene, 22, and Jamie, 23, both attended Jackson State University in Mississippi. Upon graduation, Jamie chose SMU over Duke to continue her studies. A year later, Zachene followed her to SMU. Both stated that the accomplished and welcoming faculty played a large part in their decision to attend SMU.

This semester, Jamie is taking Applied Econometrics, Law and Economics, and Business and Economic Forecasting. Zachene has Introduction to Econometrics, International Trade, and Microeconomic Theory on her slate. This last summer Jamie took an applied economics internship with ISN Software Corporation in Dallas as set up by the Hegi Family Career Development Center.  ISN Software Corporation, a service company, provides an online contractor/supplier management database designed to meet internal and governmental health, safety, and environmental requirements and to help companies better manage the outsourcing of non-core business activities (i.e. construction, maintenance, design/engineering, etc.).  Zachene said that she is likewise looking forward to following in Jamie’s footsteps and taking an internship this coming summer with a local corporation or government agency. 

Our department is proud of Jamie’s and Zachene’s fellowship awards and look forward to awarding them their Masters diplomas this and next year.   

Standing Left to Right: Zachene Crooks and Jamie Reedy