Megan McDaniel returned to her alma mater recently to meet with several individuals who were important mentors to her during her undergraduate years at Northwestern State University and announce the creation of an endowed scholarship to benefit minority students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The Megan Elizabeth McDaniel STEM Scholarship will be awarded to a junior or senior majoring in a STEM field with preference to a student in biology or chemistry. McDaniel, a Natchitoches native, is a 2013 graduate of NSU where she earned undergraduate degrees in biology with a biomedical concentration and in general studies with a computer science concentration. She was also a member of more than 10 student organizations, engaged in and out of the classroom.
McDaniel said she was inspired to create the award because of a scholarship initiated by her friend Trevor McCray, a 2015 graduate of Northwestern State University who wanted to help young minority males seeking a degree. As a Freshman Connector, McDaniel befriended McCray, then a freshman who wasn’t sure he wanted to stay in college, but at McDaniel’s encouragement, he stayed, got involved with several campus organizations and earned a criminal justice degree. He created the Davis-McCray Minority Male Scholarship as a graduate student.
“I was inspired by Trevor and his efforts to give back,” McDaniel said.
After earning two degrees at NSU, McDaniel enrolled in a chemical engineering program where she noticed she was one of the minorities in the program. As a young professional on her first job in the oil and gas industry, she said she was one of five women and one of two African Americans in her facility. She hopes the scholarship will help young students feel confident when they may be one of few people of color in STEM classes and she hopes they will be encouraged to see more minorities working in STEM professions.
“The ideal recipient is someone who is not only a minority but also someone who takes pride in attending NSU, like I did,” McDaniel said. “It would be someone who works hard in the classroom and outside the classroom.”
“It was a great pleasure to work with Megan and discuss the scholarship focused on minority students in the STEM fields,” said NSU Development Officer Kimberly Gallow. “She also joined the Excellence Team of the Columns Fund and will be contributing annually to our unrestricted fund for the university.”
Millennial giving has grown steadily at NSU as young professionals seek ways to help their peers earn degrees. Gallow, who has been instrumental in increasing engagement among young alumni through social media and online networking, said making an impact is a priority for Millennials. More and more recent graduates are making commitments, even in small increments, she said.
“It is important for our generation to know they are helping others. Megan kicked off the scholarship to celebrate her birthday on Feb. 27 and she asked family and friends to support her in reaching the goal of $10,000. We expect to begin awarding the scholarship in Fall 2019,” Gallow said. “We want to congratulate and thank Megan for contributing to the success of our students and faculty.”
To create or contribute to an NSU scholarship, contact Gallow at (318) 357-4414 or visit northwesternalumni.com.