Katie and Keara Go to a McNair Conference!

Katie and Keara    McNair Scholars and seniors Katie Biang and Keara Kangas attended the MAEOPP National McNair Research Conference at the Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan, WI over Halloween weekend.


Welcome, Keara and Katie!


Please tell us about the McNair conference.

Katie:  Keara and I drove down in a rental car paid for by the McNair Scholars Program early Friday morning and arrived mid-afternoon in Delavan…. We had the opportunity to attend a Grad Fair, where there were recruiters from various universities that had a lot of information about many graduate programs.  There were recruiters from all over the map:  Oklahoma, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, even Massachusetts (Harvard).  They had freebies too (pens, water bottles, Chap Stick, sticky notes, tea Halloween candy) which made the experience even better!  After the Grad Fair we were served dinner.  ALL of the meals provided for us over the weekend were absolutely delicious, and there were lots of options to choose from!

Keara in tub


Keara:  While at the conference, we went to oral presentations and presented a poster…. This was a great opportunity, especially if you have not presented a poster or given an oral presentation about your research.  I would recommend it to students who need the public speaking confidence and also want to go to graduate school.

Hotel room beds                  Conference ballroom

Katie:  I really liked all of the guest speakers that were there over the course of the weekend…. they were so inspirational and motivational; they too were minorities and first generation.  There were McNair students from all over the country.  One day, Keara and I sat with people from Iowa at dinner, Ohio at breakfast,and Wisconsin at lunch.  UC Berkeley was there, as well as Washington State, Eastern Washington, California-Davis, and many, many more.  It was great to interact with other scholars from all over, who had similar research interests as I did – and so goal-oriented!  I loved listening to all of the oral presentations because there were so many INTERESTING research questions and topics.  The poster presentations were set up in rows in a large dining area.  At first I was nervous to talk about my research, but as more and more people stopped by my poster and showed interest in it, I felt confident in explaining it.  Eventually, I WANTED people to come visit my poster.  It was a great opportunity to network, talk with grad recruiters, grad students, and other McNair students who were in the same field as I am.  Overall, the experience was confidence-boosting, educational, and simply awesome.  If I could do it again, I would sign up to do an oral presentation.


Tell us about your McNair research experience.  How is it going?

Keara:  Right now my research is close to its final stages – I only need a few more participants.  I have been able to do a little data analysis and have written an abstract to be submitted to the CNS conference in San Francisco next spring.  I have gained more experience working with imaging equipment and learning how to construct a research project.  My advice would be to get ahead of the game, open your time to working on your research project – it is more work than expected.

Katie:  I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work with my mentor, Dr. Mitch Klett – he offered me so much guidance in my study.  My study involves observing children in a play setting and analyzing moral development and conflict resolution.  I wanted to see how children who were less morally developed dealt with conflicts and the strategies used to resolve them.


How is your undergraduate experience at NMU going?  Has your involvement in the McNair Scholars Program made a difference to you so far?

Keara:  My undergraduate experience is going very well at NMU and has improved ever since I became a McNair Scholar.  I have wanted to go to graduate school since I was a freshman at Central Michigan University.  This program has helped advance my knowledge of graduate school, and has helped me get an idea of how to be a graduate student.  I have gotten a taste of advancing my career, and I am excited and ambitious to continue toward this future.

Katie:  I don’t know what I would do without the McNair program. I wouldn’t have a clue about graduate school, or the GRE, or the process it takes to conduct your own research study.  I feel as though McNair has prepared me for success, and that no matter what happens (whether I get into a Master’s program or not), I know that I will always have this experience to reflect back on.  It has taught me how to be organized, persistent, dedicated, hard-working, and professional.  It has allowed me the opportunity to network, be noticed by graduate admissions recruiters, and do something that I thought I never would have done, and that is to truly believe that I can make a name for myself.  Something that was talked about at the conference was that you are getting graduate education for not only yourself, but also for your children, and grandchildren, and even great grandchildren.  The choices I am making right now will affect me and my offspring forever.


What are your plans for the future? 

Keara:  My plan is to get my PhD in Clinical Neuropsychology.  I have narrowed down my selection to 13 schools that have excellent professors and programs.  These are competitive programs for which I am doing my best to have the best application.  I have asked excellent professors to write me recommendations, I have completed research, and I have my name on a few posters due to my mentor.  Though my GRE has not been exceptional, I feel my experience at NMU will allow me to be accepted into a few graduate schools of my choice.

Katie:  I am graduating this December, 2014 with a B.S. in Psychology/Behavior Analysis.  I am currently a practicum student at Pathways Community Mental Health in Marquette and it has provided me with SO MUCH experience in my field.  I get to shadow a Behavior Analyst, which is what I would like to be.  I get to see the behind-the-scenes of behavior services, family/parent trainings, implementation of behavior plans, recording and analyzing data, and more.  I hope to get my Master’s in some type of psychology field that will prepare me to take the Board exam to earn my BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst).  My top schools I am applying to are University of South Florida, California State – Northridge, University of North Carolina – Wilmington, and Florida State University.


Any more thoughts you might like to share?

Katie:  One more thing I’d like to add, for future McNair students:  I never knew what a researcher did.  I didn’t know what graduate school was, and I didn’t know that it was an option, not until I was a sophomore at least.  Even though I do not plan on becoming a “researcher” per se, I can say that I am one.  I have the experience, and that is something that is very marketable and attractive to graduate schools and professionals, and really anybody!  The program is a lot of work, and you have to be dedicated and committed, but it is worth it in the end, I promise!