associate director of the McNair Program, works with first-generation
college students to prepare them for graduate school. The program is located
inside Butterfield B.
Associate Director of McNair Program Prepares Students for Graduate
Santos Cayetano has supported Wesleyan for years. He mentored students
through the Upward Bound program and taught classes at the Great Hollow
Wilderness School, an experimental education center formerly overseen by
Now Cayetano is helping first generation college students from low-income
families prepare for a successful post-graduate education experience through
the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program.
The McNair Program serves students who are first generation college students
from low-income families or African-American, Hispanic, native American,
native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. Students interested in pursuing a PhD
in any field may apply.
As the new associate director of the program, Cayetano encourages these students to
pursue academic excellence.
"Ultimately, my goal is to help McNair fellows complete their master's
degrees and hopefully their Ph.Ds," says Cayetano, who was hired Feb. 25.
Laurel F. Appel, director of the McNair Program, says Cayetano is already
making progress with the McNair students.
“Santos has met with students and held information sessions in his office
and at Usdan with students interested in the program,” Appel notes. “As the
newest member of the Student Academic Resource Network, he is quickly
getting up to speed on all the members of the network, and how to assist
students in making use of them.”
Cayetano advises students to consider the McNair Program "as soon as they
start thinking about going to graduate school,” he says. During their
preparatory years, frosh and sophomores are called “McNair Scholars.” The
McNair program puts emphasis on teaching Scholars about Ph.D options, how
and why one might go about earning a doctorial degree. The program also
helps students choose an academic direction and prepare for active research.
All fields of research are eligible for the program but the focus is on the
fields of math or science.
After their sophomore year, students can become “McNair Fellows.” Students
are matched with a faculty mentor who will oversee their progress and
research. All Fellows receive a stipend. The program is able to support 25
fellows and 25 scholars each year.
"A major part of preparing for graduate research is to get involved in
research as an undergraduate, so the focus in the last two years is on doing
research with Wesleyan faculty working toward a thesis or senior paper,"
In addition the stipend and faculty mentoring, Fellows are provided with
mutually-supportive mentoring groups and educational workshops on various
topics related to graduate school. The program also offers waivers or
fee-offsets for graduate application fees and opportunities to attend
regional or national McNair conferences where students present their work
and network with members of other McNair programs.
The Scholars and Fellows also encouraged to attend McNair Research Talks.
This year, Appel spoke on “Getting Involved in Research while at Wesleyan:
Professors, Projects, Funding, Internships;” Tim Ku, assistant professor of
earth and environmental sciences spoke on “The Biogeochemistry of Freshwater
Lakes and Tropical Coasts: Implications for Cultural Eutrophication and
Bioluminescent Bays;” Ishita Mukerji, associate professor of molecular
biology and biochemistry spoke on “How Do Fibers Form in Sickle Cell and
Alzheimer's Disease? Insights from Spectroscopy;” and Hilary Barth,
assistant professor of psychology, spoke on “Abstract Number and Arithmetic
in Preschool Children.”
In the near future, McNair students will also participate in talks about
their own research experiences.
The McNair staff also includes Appel; Donna Thompson, director of the Upward
Bound Program and McNair Grant Principal Investigator; and Valerie Marinelli,
Partners in providing services for students in Butterfield B315 are Jim
Donady, director of the Health Professions Partnership Initiative and
professor of biology; Renee Johnson-Thornton, associate coordinator of the
Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship; and Alice Hadler, International
Student Affairs Writing program, and Language service for non-native
“Santos really impressed the search committee with his history of working
with students from first generation college/low income families, helping
them define goals they might not have considered, and then mentoring them as
they achieve those goals,” Appel says.
Prior to Wesleyan, Cayetano was senior program director of the Ralphola
Taylor Community Center YMCA in Bridgeport, Conn. where he oversaw all
programming, budgeting, facility, maintained and built community relations,
grants writing and compliance; while supervising a staff of nine direct
reports and 51 indirect reports. Prior to the Taylor Center, he was a
regional director at Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, working closely with
student volunteers from the University of Connecticut-Waterbury, Post
University and Naugatuck Community College in becoming mentors and community
At Great Hollow, he worked with students on team-building, and getting them
to confront challenges that were at the outer limits of their confidence.
“I worked with Wesleyan students there, as beginning teachers and as
clients, and I always wanted a position where I could again work directly
with students,” he says.
Cayetano was born in Honduras, grow up in Belize, and went to middle school
and high school in the Bronx, New York. He majored in sociology at Buffalo
State College. He has two children, Hazanni, 7, and Izabella, 2.
In addition spending time with his children, Caytano has several hobbies
away from Wes.
"I love playing soccer, camping, sitting by the ocean, hiking, learning
about the social structure of our society, and providing opportunities for
others to achieve while developing myself,” he says.
For more information on the McNair Program or to apply, go to:
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection