St. Edward's University McNair Scholars/University of Texas at Austin Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Graduate School Internship

St. Edward's McNair Scholars Program " "

Watch a video of a McNair Scholar describing his Pre Grad Internship experience. Watch video of McNair Scholar

McNair Scholars discuss the value of the IE Pre-Grad Internship

*The Ronald McNair Program assists low-income and first-generation undergraduate college students who wish to prepare for graduate school. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, this program (which was named for the African American scientist and astronaut who was killed in the 1986 Challenger explosion) includes research opportunities, faculty mentors, opportunities to publish and/or present research findings, and preparation

This internship is an opportunity for McNair Scholars* to work with UT graduate student "mentors" to learn about those unique aspects of graduate study that make it distinct from the undergraduate experience (e.g., conducting research, writing for scholarly audiences, participating in seminars, serving as teaching and research assistants, publishing articles in professional journals, becoming members of scholarly organizations and learned societies, preparing for an academic or professional career, etc.).

The objective of the IE Pre-Graduate School Internship is to connect McNair Scholars with seasoned UT graduate students ("mentors") in their area of study. Internships are arranged by Dr. Richard Cherwitz, Professor of Communication Studies and Founder of the IE Program, and are based on the ability of the student to find and gain the consent of a graduate student mentor willing to supervise the internship. Internship projects, assignments and tasks are determined through negotiation between students and graduate students mentors; internship contracts ensure that there is both structure to and accountability for the experience. Professor Cherwitz, who served as Associate Dean of the Graduate School for seven years, will hold workshops and meetings, allowing all interns to share their experiences and to learn about: graduate study, obtaining admissions and funding and creating career possibilities.

Examples of Internship Activities: observation of undergraduate teaching done by graduate student teaching assistants, attending graduate classes, seminars and departmental research colloquia, undertaking a research project (similar to what you might engage in as a graduate student), attending meetings of graduate professional organizations, journal groups, lab sessions and other academic gatherings for graduate students and faculty, discussing your discipline, graduate study and career development with faculty and graduate students, observing graduate student/faculty interactions (where permitted), attending state, regional or national conferences run by the discipline's professional organizations. There are, of course, many other possibilities; interns and their mentors should work out the specific details of the internship assignment. Whatever activities are chosen, interns must submit a written report of the internship and what they learned. During the internship semester, Professor Cherwitz will arrange a time when all interns can meet to discuss their experiences and share information pertinent to pursuing graduate study.

NOTE: There are no strings attached to internships. Participation does NOT guarantee admission for graduate study. In addition, the relationship among the intern and graduate student mentor might be very informal; while a particular graduate student will serve as the internship mentor, the internship might involve contact and work with several faculty members and graduate students.

PROCESS: The Assistant Director will contact will contact Professor Cherwitz with an account of scholars who need a mentor. Professor Cherwitz will contact the graduate coordinators of the corresponding departments in which mentors are needed. The Assistant Director will then receive a list of potential mentors and make the matches. It is the responsibility of the St. Edward's University McNair scholar and the mentor at The University of Texas at Austin to arrange a time to complete and submit an internship contract, returning it to the Assistant Director at St. Edward's University.

McNair Web Resources

McNair Web site

Get a printable copy of the internship contract.

The philosophy of "Intellectual Entrepreneurship" (IE) and its effectiveness in providing minority and first generation students opportunities to discover the value of graduate education is the subject of numerous essays and articles:

“Intellectual Entrepreneurship Internship: Mentor’s Perspective,” The Orbit, Spring 2016. [On page 6, the St. Edward’s University McNair Scholars program recognizes the important role played by the IE Pre Grad Internship program and its graduate student mentors.]

UT's Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) Initiative Honored at Excelencia in Education's Celebracion, Washington DC, September 22, 2015. [IE honored for remaining "at the forefront of advancing educational achievement for Latino students in higher education."]

Read the News Release

"Intellectual Entrepreneurship Internship: A Mentor's Perspective," St. Edward's University McNair Scholars Newsletter, Spring 2015. [Page 6 spotlights one of UT's graduate students who serves as an IE mentor for the St. Ed's McNair program.]

Ignacio Cruz, "Reimagining the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program Through the Lens of Intellectual Entrepreneurship," Planning for Higher Education (Volume 43, Number 2, January-March 2015).

IE Director Receives National Diversity Council 2014 DiversityFIRST Award, May 13, 2014.

Lovell A. Jones, "Why Isn't Education Being Used as a Weapon to Change the World?," Burnt Orange Report, May 4, 2014. [IE spotlighted as one of three programs nationally for its success in increasing diversity.]

Lovell A. Jones, "For Minorities' Educational Needs, Funding Lags Far Behind Effort," Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, May 5, 2014.

Patrick Beach, Former IE Professor Continues African-American Oral History Project in Tennessee, Austin American-Statesman, April 6, 2014.

IE Student Has Gone from Being a High School Dropout to One of the Top Students in His Class, March 26, 2014

Lovell A. Jones, "Mandela Left Us with Lesson on Education," Austin American-Statesman, December 11, 2013.

Lovell A Jones, "Mandela, Knowledge & Will," Houston Style Magazine, December 8, 2013. [UT's IE program is featured as a model for increasing diversity.]

William McKenzie, "UT's Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program is Trying to Expand Minority Graduate School Enrollment," Dallas Morning News, October 11, 2013.

Richard A. Cherwitz, "The Challenge of Diversifying Higher Education in the Post-Fisher Era," Planning for Higher Education, September 20, 2013. [Documentation of how IE offers one viable approach to increasing diversity in a race neutral era]

Chris Parr, "US Explores How to Increase Diversity without Prejudice," Times Higher Education, September 5, 2013.

Richard Cherwitz, "Increasing Diversity in the Post-Fisher Era," Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, July 11, 2013.

Laura Pereyra, "Affirmative Action and the Future of Diversity Initiatives in Higher Education," NerdScholar, July 3, 2013. [Discussion of IE's Pre Grad Internship and "It Could Be U/IE Mentoring and College Readiness Camp".]

Ana Lucia Hurtado, "Intern Program Helps Build 'Citizen-Scholars'--UT Offers Students Chance at Discovery before Graduation," Houston Chronicle, June 29, 2013

IE Kuhn Scolars Honored, March 27, 2013

Damita Miller-Shanklin, "Intellectual Entrepreneurship Consortium," Ujima Magazine, March, 2013 (See page three.) [This is the first in a series of stories about UT's Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) initiative.]

Chris Parr, "Texas Awaits Verdict That May Tear Up Rules on Race," Times Higher Education, January 31, 2013. [UT's IE initiative is referenced as a successful strategy for increasing diversity.]

Laura Pereyra, "UT Program Is Helping Collegians Find Careers," Austin American-Statesman, January 19, 2013. [Former UT student describes how IE stretches tuition dollars.]

"Making College Count: UT Austin's Intellectual Entrepreneurship Helps Students Maximize Their Tuition Dollars," NerdWallet, January 11, 2013.

Kuhn Family Foundation Funds First-Generation Students in IE Program, December 12, 2012.

St. Edward's University McNair IE Pre Grad Interns Continue Their Journey: Students Begin Graduate Study (February, 2011)

Excelencia in Education President Lauds the Educational Impact of UT's Intellectual Entrepreneurship Consortium
(IE) on Campus and Nationally (October 1, 2010). [President Brown underscores IE's particular success with first generation and underrepresented students by engaging their passions and desire to contribute to the community.]

John Young, "For Students, College is More Than Just a Numbers Game," Austin American-Statesman, March 20, 2010. [Young applauds IE's effort to help students make the most out of their college education, especially those who are underrepresented and first-generation.]

Jennifer Epstein, "Mentoring, Texas-Style," Inside Higher Ed, September 29, 2009.

Gregory Vincent and Sarita Brown, "Nurturing Latino Educational Opportunities," Austin American-Statesman, May 20, 2009.

Veronica Luna and Linda Prieto, "Mentoring Affirmations and Interventions: A Bridge to Graduate School for Latina/o Students," Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, April 2009 (8:2), 213-224. [This article is a report of a study of the IE Pre-Graduate School Internship's unique approach to mentoring.]

       Postscript: The Reflections of IE Interns Three Years Later

IE Receives "Examples of Excelencia" Award (as top program for graduate institutions in the United States), September 23, 2008.

     UT Press Release
     IE Excelencia Video
     Additional Information
     Daily Texan Story

Michelle D. Anderson, "University of Texas Program Demystifies Graduate School for Minority Students," DIVERSE: Issues in Higher Education, September 4, 2008. (The article includes an audio recording from a former IE mentor and current director of the Pre-Grad Internship program.)

Justin Jefferson, "A Head Start: How an Undergraduate Internship Helped a Student from the Projects Explore His Love of Science," The Scientist, August, 2008, 25.

Justin Jefferson, "Creating a Phalanx of Citizen-Scholars," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 11, 2008

Justin Jefferson, "Path to the Future is No Longer Lonely," Austin American-Statesman, June 19, 2008.

Exploring All the Options:
With Help of Mentors, Students Find New Paths to Graduate School

"The Rise of the Citizen-Scholar: IE Pushes Students to the Next Level," Chronicle of Higher Education, February, 2008.

Ralph K. M Haurwitz, "UT mentoring project to aim for $50 million: Introduction to graduate study is popular among minorities" Austin American-Statesman, December 24, 2007.

In 2007, IE Pre-Grad Internship Named one of the "Examples of Excelencia: What Works for Latino Students in Higher Education."

Letter to UT President William Powers (.pdf)


Hurtado, Ana Lucia. "Intellectual Entrepreneurship: Improving Education and Increasing Diversity." Change, January/February, 2007, pp 48-50
      Excerpted in On Campus, March 2007 (page 6).

Association of American Colleges and Universities Spotlights IE Consortium as a "Diversity Innovation"

IE Pre-Grad Internship's Impact on Diversity Featured by U.S. News and World Report, June 19, 2006.

Cherwitz, Richard. "Intellectual Entrepreneurship and Diversity." University Business, July 2005.

Raspberry, William, "Filling the Racial Gap in Academia," Washington Post, May 31, 2005.

Cherwitz, Richard. "Diversifying Graduate Education: The Promise of Intellectual Entrepreneurship." Journal of Hispanic Higher Education Vol 4, No.1 (January, 2005), 19-33.

Guerra, Carlos. "Here Is One Approach for Making More Minority Scholars," San Antonio Express News, September 28, 2004.

Cherwitz, Richard. "Capitalizing on Unintended Consequences: Lessons on Diversity from Texas." Peer Review Volume 6, No. 3 (2004), 33-35.    

Larissa Hall, "Internships Seek to Increase Diversity at Graduate Level," On Campus, May 5, 2004.   

Cherwitz Richard and Alvarado-Boyd, Susan. “Intellectual Entrepreneurship: A New Approach to Increasing Diversity in Graduate School.” College & University Journal, 79:3 (2004) 37-39.

Cherwitz Richard and Alvarado-Boyd, Susan. “Intellectual Entrepreneurship: Successfully Engaging Hearts, Minds in Graduate Education.” Black Issues in Higher Education, October 9, 2003.