McNair Scholars Speaker Series allows students to gain different perspectives

Eldridge Hall is home to the McNair program and other student success programs.

The McNair Scholars Speaker Series continues Oct. 13 with the goal of presenting a diverse point of view to students.

“Chat and Chew” features professors and professionals whose leadership fosters “dialogue and engagement to support voices and students that may have been historically silenced.”

Andrea Blake, the McNair project advisor, said the Chat and Chew series has two goals: to bring awareness to the McNair Scholars Program, and to allow students to gain different perspectives.

“Whether that be a faculty member or professionals in the community who can give students an opportunity to understand different research that’s out there and being conducted,” Blake said. “(It also provides) different job opportunities that may align with areas that they’re interested in going into in graduate school.”

The series’ speakers include Dr. Priya Menon, Dr. Zhiyong Wang and the Joneses – retired Navy Capt. Synthia Jones and her husband, Greg, a retired FBI agent.

Last month Menon presented “The New Normal: What We Can Learn from the Experiences of Expatriates.”

On Wednesday, Oct. 13, Wang, an associate professor of chemistry at TROY, will present on the diversity in STEM disciplines.

Wang worked with a program that was funded through the National Science Foundation to help support students who have disabilities and wish to go into the STEM field.

The Joneses, both natives of Alabama, will conclude the series on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

“They’re going to talk about their experiences working in the intelligence community,” Blake said. “Students don’t necessarily know that there are other opportunities that their research might contribute to, but also other job opportunities that their research can actually benefit.”

Blake said the series is important to bring visibility to the program’s misconceptions and to broaden the opportunities for students regardless of their field. 

“Attendees want to be able to hear from a diverse population,” Blake said. “A lot of our speakers are specifically picked out so we can hear from marginalized groups and marginalized individuals who have traditionally been silenced.”

Blake also hopes to make this an annual event. Each event will be held in the Trojan Dining Hall’s Civic Dining Room 218 from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.