Two McNair Scholars earn full scholarships to begin graduate school

Two of Grand Valley's McNair Scholars earned full scholarships to begin their doctoral degree programs at Michigan State University in the fall semester.

Antonia Gordon, who earned a bachelor's degree in public, nonprofit and health administration, received the MSU University Enrichment Fellowship, one of 20 doctoral students (out of 500) to earn the competitive award. 

Hannah Pierson, who earned a bachelor's degree in sociology, was one of four students admitted into a special doctoral cohort at MSU with research emphasis in the sociology of health and medicine. 

Antonia Gordon standing in yellow skirt, white shirt
Antonia Gordon received the MSU University Enrichment Fellowship.
Image credit - courtesy photo
Hannah Pierson standing against wall
Hannah Pierson was one of four students admitted into a special doctoral cohort at MSU with research emphasis in the sociology of health and medicine.
Image credit - courtesy photo

An active Army reservist, Gordon said her research focus will be education policy and education funding. The interest comes from experience. Gordon graduated from Muskegon Heights High School before a state emergency manager was appointed to run the school district.

"I want to look into the correlation between education and poverty," Gordon said. "A lot of students from my area were impacted by the takeover of the district under the emergency manager act."

Pierson will be a graduate research assistant for MSU's sociology department. She said she was drawn to the department because its faculty members have a strong foundation in health care inequities.

"l came to Grand Valley knowing I wanted to major in sociology," Pierson said. "I have a passion for research, writing and questioning; sociology helps you answer those questions."

Pierson's faculty mentor was Anna Hammersmith, assistant professor of sociology; Gordon's faculty mentor was Davia Downey, associate professor of public administration. Both students said the McNair Scholars staff members and fellow students also played key mentorship roles.

"I will continue to have check-ins with the McNair staff and they will track your progress," Gordon said. "It's not hand-holding but support; the advice doesn't leave because you leave the undergraduate program."

Pierson spent two years in the McNair program and said it helped hone her research skills.

"Research is challenging and can have many bumps in the road, but thanks to McNair and my experience within the field of sociology, I have come a long way," she said.


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