McNair Boot Camp

Welcome Murray State University

Graduate School Training Camp Participants!

Y O U   A R E   M C N A I R.

McNair 2006
CMU McNair Scholars attending McNair camp ’08

I am so excited to participate in this year’s camp and to get to know each of you. This is a terrific opportunity to network with other McNair scholars around the country – and learn everything you can about getting yourself into a fully funded Ph.D. program!

I have fond memories of the Grad School Boot Camp through the years – initially created and hosted by Indiana University and now hosted by Murray State University. This picture is of our 2006 CMU McNair scholars taking a break during camp and hanging out on the lake. That’s over TEN YEARS AGO already!!

Here you may access the handouts and PowerPoint’s associated with my presentations on the Grad App Process, Getting the Money and Taking Care of YOU on the Road to the Doctorate.

Be sure to sign up for a Trello account @ and then shoot me an email at with your username if you would like me to send you to a *customizable* CMU GRAD APP TRACKER BOARD that you can then tailor for your own use.

Be sure to download the Trello app too! You’ll love it!


Email me by September 1 and tell me that your ESSENTIALS are complete!

Can’t wait to hear about your success!

<< Lynn’s handouts + PowerPoint’s >>

Grad App Process (PowerPoint)

Camp Handout_Grad Apps

Camp Handout_I Will Achieve My Ph.D.

Camp Handout_Essentials

Camp Handout_Weekly Grad School Selection

Camp Handout_Weekly Research Exploration

Getting the Money (PowerPoint)

Camp Handout_Money

Taking Care of You on the Road to the Doctorate (Adobe Spark Presentation)

Camp Handout_Self Care

Lynn’s Top Tips for Taking Care of YOU

Get Your Self-Care Started (Take ACTION!)

Create Your Daily Flow: A Beginners Guide to Meditation
(Weekly Warrior Podcast Episode #15)

Camp Handout_Self Care Inventory

Camp Handout_Weekly Flow

Jumpstart Your Semester Self-Care Workbook

Jumpstart Worksheets

I would love for you to experiment with healthy habits and enhancing your own self-care so that you can be the best student you can be! Please keep me posted on your progress by tagging me on Instagram @ lynnmariecurry.

Be sure to use the following hash tags too! 


Here is a video of me “interviewing” one of our CMU McNair Ph.D. graduates. Dr. Freddy Lee shares about his experiences as a graduate student at Indiana University and how his McNair experience helped get him situated on the path to the Ph.D. Lots of great insights and tips on how best to proceed, as well as demonstrating what is possible with hard work and dedication toward your goals >>>

<< bonus >>

Life is Like a Zip Line (blog post)

A Credo for Making it Happen (Video)

A Credo For Making it Happen (Handout)

 << for more grad school tips and tricks >>

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Let self-care fuel your academic success.

I invite you to consider the following.

Are you feeling energetic + excited at the start of each day?
Are you feeling good about the things you have on your plate?
Are you able to focus + make progress toward your goals?

< OR >

Are you feeling tired + maybe a bit overwhelmed when you wake up?
Are you feeling like you have too much going on in your life?
Are you feeling a little scattered + uncertain or like you’re just trying to keep up?

Most important: are you feeling like you barely have any time for YOU in the whole scheme of things?

As busy students, there is always going to be a lot to juggle on a daily basis. You want to do AWESOME in school, enjoy what you’re doing, get your degree and then move on to meaningful work that has impact. Right?

The key is being able to operationalize yourself on a daily basis so that you can do all of these things … without giving yourself a heart attack along the way.

Who feels like they’re got it all under control?

I know for myself, every day is a work in progress. I’m a work in progress. Every day there are challenges. Every day we work hard to cross things off our to do lists, make headway toward our goals and maybe enjoy ourselves in the process.

Bottom line: we’re all a work in progress.

What I’m interested in is helping students GET CLEAR on their personal needs + professional responsibilities so they can create a daily flow that works for them. A daily flow that includes highly focused + productive work time. And time to refresh + reenergize so that “work time” becomes even more fluid, efficient and worthwhile.

The part that usually gets left off the list is the “taking care of you” part.

We all want to do great work and that usually entails challenging ourselves to the limit. But if you think about it, if we all take some time to do the things our minds + bodies need to STAY HEALTHY + STRONG, our “working hours” can become even better. Because we feel better. Clearly, we’re more up to the tasks at hand.

The SECRET: when you start focusing on your well-being, you might even find you can work less because you are working smarter.

It boils down the choices we make every day. Some days are easier to prioritize ourselves than others and that’s okay. It’s when we consistently keep ourselves “last on our list” because “everything else” seems more pressing + important.

The key is helping our students be present enough to notice what they need to feel good AND EVEN THRIVE on a daily basis. Too often we are in the “motion of doing” and not paying attention to how we are actually feeling. Being still long enough to start connecting the dots and figuring out what we need to feel good is the first step.

From there, we build habits. We start small. Experiment with what works. We begin to see how our choices about “when + how we work” impact how the work gets done, how well we do the work and and how that work is actually impacting our life, as well as our academic record.

Building in foundational self-care practices, simple things like eating breakfast, taking an afternoon walk, meeting a friend for coffee, making sure you get at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep, is key to feeling + performing our best each day.

So if we “already know the answer” why can’t we make this happen for ourselves more times than not?

I’m not sure, but I’m intent on exploring solutions. After working with low income, first generation college students and underrepresented students for over a decade, I’m convinced that helping our students make self-care a priority, and a reality, in their daily flow is key to academic success and more.

The beauty is … developing this kind of mindset and skill set while in school, will continue to benefit us as we progress in our careers and lives many years to come.

Let’s start this conversation, shall we?

Oh by the way, I created a little webinar to help get us going >>

… feel free to check it and share it by CLICKING HERE.

lmc ❤

McNair Promising Practices Resources :)

Hi everyone,

So wonderful to connect with you at this year’s McNair Promising Practices Institute hosted by the University of Central Florida – big SHOUT OUT to Michael Aldarondo Jeffries for hosting such a lovely (and super useful!) event. We have THE BEST MCNAIR COMMUNITY and I’m thankful to be part of it. Thought I would post resources I shared here for easy access … feel free to reach out with any questions + feedback + ideas … really anything! 

Grad App Tracker >>

Sign up for a free Trello account and email me your username so that I can create a “base” Grad App Tracker board for you that you can tailor to your own needs, share with your students or simply gather ideas from to create your own. Besides using Trello to help manage the graduate school application process, you might wish to explore using it … for just about anything!

Trello is a great tool and we pretty much use it to organize “everything McNair!”

I posted a Grad App Tracker tutorial video HERE that goes over primary features + functionality, but again, feel free to reach out with any questions if you have them.

Grad App Tracker (HANDOUT)

One thing I didn’t mention in the video is that you should definitely DOWNLOAD THE TRELLO APP to go along with things … one of the best parts is being able to keep track of notes and “snippets of information” as you go … having the app on your phone makes that even easier … say your student just finished meeting with a prospective faculty advisor and wants to jot down a few items from their conversation … they can easily do that and post it under a particular school list … and then “tag you” so you can take a quick peek minutes later!

Definitely suggest checking this resource out!


Helping Your Students Make Self-Care Part of Their Academic Journey >>

I’m so excited to be sharing resources on this very important topic that is near + dear to my heart. I think helping our students establish a strong foundation of health + wellness will carry them far, not only in their graduate programs, but in life! 

Please keep me posted on your experiences + successes because I want to hear!

Lynn’s PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)
Strategies For Starting the Conversation
Top Tips for Taking Care of You (HANDOUT)
Simple Habit’s 31-day Meditation Challenge (WEBSITE)
Self-Care Guide for McNair Scholars (PDF)
Jumpstart Your Semester Self-Care (7-DAY VIDEO SERIES)
Jumpstart Your Semester Self-Care (WORKBOOK + WORKSHEETS)

P.S. Be sure to check out Dr. Kevin James’ AWESOME resource for college students too >>
College Unscripted

Painting of big red heart over white background

Baitcasting + toeholds

Probably the thing you hear me say most come fall is, “have you been reaching out to faculty?” It’s become a mantra in relation to the group of McNair scholars set to apply to graduate school this season. I usually have between eight and ten students applying, and every year I stress myself out worrying if they are “doing enough” to get fully funded offers at their top-choice programs.
I know their intention to do so is there, it’s just that sometimes demands of the semester, coupled with anxiety about reaching out, stymie their efforts.
Each summer I present at a “grad school boot camp” where I talk about the grad application process and how to make those fully funded offers happen. Besides covering the “logistical” aspects and offering a specially designed organizational tool called the Grad App Tracker, the most important thing I tell our McNair scholars is to establish “meaningful contact” with as many faculty members at programs you are interested in as you can. Whether it be through a campus visit (best option), Skype/phone session (pretty decent) or email correspondence (can still be effective), connecting with people you are interested in potentially working with is key to enhancing your chances for admission.

Don’t get me wrong, you have to do all of the other pieces to the best of your ability – writing a kick ass personal statement, building those experiences on your CV, doing the best that you can in your classes, developing relationships with faculty on your campus so that you have the strongest recommendation letters possible. All of these things are important. To really “seal the deal” though, you need to combine the added element of connection.

Case in point is one of our scholars currently investigating applying to a campus visitation program. The process hasn’t been entirely clear and I’ve even tried to reach out to their coordinator for guidance. What it basically comes down to, however, is the student making contact with prospective faculty advisors at that institution in order to be selected for the visit.

A particularly tenacious student, this scholar had been reaching out to multiple individuals without response. Then I get a text with a screen shot of a response from a faculty member indicating enthusiasm for this scholar, as well as “deep respect” for this scholar’s current McNair mentor. As well as the scholar BURSTING WITH JOY! Score! I’m going to wager that this scholar, in fact, gets selected for the visit, which very well might lead to acceptance (with funding) into the program, which is one of her top-choice schools.

This is what I mean by toehold. With these initial connections come the potential for meaningful exchanges that may lead to partnerships in the future. The goal is to establish a “toehold” at as many of your programs as possible. This means reaching out, briefly telling people about your awesome experiences as McNair scholars, indicating a sincere interest in their work and asking whether they anticipate taking on new graduates next fall. Easy peasy! In many cases, these emails will go unanswered. And that’s okay. But the few that do secure a response are the gems that could very well point the way to your future. You just don’t know.

And you especially don’t (and won’t) know if you don’t send any emails.
That’s why I’m constantly asking my scholars if they are reaching out. You never know what kinds of connections you might be able to foster if you don’t try.

It’s like fishing really. Think about how many times you might have to cast that bait in order to get even the first bite. Sometimes they hit right away, other times it takes a slew of casting, sometimes you don’t get any bites at all. But all of that information you are collecting along the way is important in your decision-making process, right? About how to better your approach, about what types of “fishing environments” you’re going to target next.

And when it comes to selecting a grad school, you’re probably going to go where you get some good quality responses. You are going to go where you feel most welcome. And the more of these kinds of “interactions” you can successfully foster during your grad application process the better!

10330653 - fisher with big fish
It only takes one offer to secure your future. #mcnairscholarsrock
So get out there and start sending those emails. Make it a priority to MAKE IT HAPPEN before all of the sudden it’s Thanksgiving and nearing those December 1 deadlines. I know you can do this. Let us know how it goes!

lmc ❤

First Generation Resources

First in Our Families. Digital Stories of First Generation College Students.
Link to site.

Closing the Opportunity Gap: Identity-Conscious Strategies for Retention and Student Success 
(2016). Book by Dr. Vijay Pendakur.
Link to book.

How to Help First-Generation Students Succeed (2016). Article by Mikhail Zinshteyn.
Link to article.

Mentoring At-Risk Students Through the Hidden Curriculum of Higher Education (2015). Book by Dr. Buffy Smith.
Link to article.

Fostering Habits of Mind in Today’s Students (2015).
Link to publication.

Make Your Home Among Strangers (2015). Book by Jennine Capo Crucet.
Link to book review.

Feet on Campus, Heart at Home: First-Generation College Students Struggle with Divided Identities (2015). Article by Dr. Linda Banks-Santilli.
Link to article.

50 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me About College: Straight Talk for First Generation College Students FROM First Generation College Graduates (2015). Book by Angel Flores.
Link to book.

First Generation College Students: Motivations and Support Systems (2014).
Link to article.

First Generation College Students:  Understanding and Improving the Experience From Recruitment to Commencement (2012). Book by Lee Ward, Michael Siegel and Zebulun Davenport.
Link to book review.

College Students’ Sense of Belonging: A Key to Educational Success for All Students (2012). Book by Terrell L. Strayhorn.
Link to book review.

Supporting First-Generation College Students Through Classroom-Based Practices (2012). Report by the Institute for Higher Education Policy.
Link to report.

Faculty and First-Generation College Students: Bridging the Classroom Gap Together (2011). Book by Vickie L. Harvey and Teresa Heinz Housel.
Link to book review.

The First Generation Student Experience: Who They Are, Their Characteristics, and Strategies for Improving Their Persistence and Success (2010). Book by Jeff Davis.
Link to book review.

A New Retention Variable: Hope and First Generation College Students (2010). An article by Cyrus R. Williams and S. Kent Butler.
Link to article.

Higher Education and First-Generation Students: Cultivating Community, Voice, and Place for the New Majority (2010). Book by Dr. Rashne R. Jehangir.
Link to book review.

The Invisibility Factor: Administrators and Faculty Reach Out to First-Generation College Students (2009). Book by Teresa Heinz Housel and Vicki L. Harvey.
Link to book.

Postsecondary Access and Success for First-Generation College Students (2007). Article by Jennifer Engle.
Link to article.

First in the Family: Advice About College From First Generation Students (2006). Book by Kathleen Cushman.
Link to book.

Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams (2004). Book by Richard J. Jenson.
Link to book review.

List of various resources by Baylor University.
Link to site.


Our McNair.

I spent the better part of Wednesday sitting on the couch. Dazed and confused you might say. I felt sick to my stomach. I watched the speeches made that day. I watched Jerry Maguire because it was on one of the channels. Cuba Gooding Jr. made me smile.

I had tried to do the normal things I would have been doing on that Wednesday. I tried to edit some personal statements. I tried to read some applications. Instead I found myself walking around campus aimlessly, not really wanting to be anywhere. That’s why I found myself on the couch, the next best place to be when you don’t feel like you belong anywhere.

I have a half-written blog post about the excitement of interviewing new scholars for McNair. I haven’t been able to finish it, and darn it, I should have just done that and posted it last week before this all happened. I was in much better spirits then.

I can’t stop myself from being on Facebook and reading about the fallout from some of the more thoughtful and grounded observers out there. I’m not sure what I’m looking for but it’s probably hope.

I’m listening to our scholars and I’m not sure how to engage. I don’t know quite what to say except I’m sorry. I’ve been though some intense times when McNair was in jeopardy. That happened two grant cycles ago when we didn’t even know if or when we were going to be writing for another round of support, we didn’t know how much money was being taken away, and then ultimately we lost 50 of our programs, many of which had been long-standing, very successful McNair programs over the past decade. We made it and I felt relieved and lucky to be able to continue the important work that we do with our scholars.

I’m not feeling that way now. I’m feeling scared and deeply saddened. We’re going to be in for the fight of our lives. We’re supposed to be writing for another five years of support in the next couple of months and we’re supposed to be doing this when I’m reading articles suggesting the U.S. Department of Education will be dismantled.

I have Ph.D. students questioning whether it’s even worth it to get their Ph.D. in a time when there might not be funding for research that is so needed. I have scholars barely making it though college with full Pell grants and I can’t even begin to imagine younger low income students trying to make it though with even less.

So what to say here? I don’t know honestly. Except that we’re going to be in for the biggest fight of our lives. That is certainly clear. I already had scholar graduates texting and asking what they can do. It’s going to become even more pertinent that we tell our stories to as many people that will listen and can hear. 

It’s going to become even more critical for our McNair community to support one another and be strong. We have no other choice as I see it.

I’m scared for the future. And I’m feeling pretty helpless right now. My family can’t afford for me not to have a job and it might come to that. My heart hurts to think that I might not be able to do this work with students like our McNair scholars. This work is deeply meaningful to me and it’s helped to define me as a person. The thought of that being ripped away is something I can’t even think about.

But really, it’s not about me, it’s about our students and their chance to pursue their dreams through education. I can’t bring myself to think this might all be dashed. So I won’t.

We’re going to need our entire McNair community to become vocal. Way more vocal than we have ever been. We’re going to have to share the stories of our students, the challenges they face and the obstacles they have overcome with assistance from programs like Trio and McNair. We’re going to have to present a united front to those who might not understand or want to listen. We’re going to have to help them listen and understand by sharing the compelling stories of our students. 

That’s all I can say for now.

And this.

Our scholars presented their research yesterday and Alyssa so eloquently posted this afterward:

My passion for social equality is obvious in many ways, but one thing I don’t talk about as much is my passion for education. To me, those two things go hand-in-hand. Being a McNair Scholar has allowed for me to dedicate my life to social equality by means of education & I cannot thank the program enough.

“Education is the most powerful weapon with which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela 💕

This keeps me hopeful for our future.

Let’s keep going McNair. Dr. McNair wants us to, that’s for sure. It’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be pretty. But we must continue. We must.



My dear friend, Gracie, hosted a workshop at the yoga studio this weekend entitled, Bats and the Unsuspecting Lullaby. As part of it, she created a mesmerizing art installation encompassing hanging dream catchers made from doilies of varying sizes, shapes and designs. I didn’t get to attend the workshop, but I did get to practice yoga amidst this beautiful display and received some of Gracie’s underlying intentions as a result.

As I stood among these suspended treasures, I took in this idea of quietude and standing in one’s own quietude. Being still and feeling calm. Exuding tranquility even when life is swirling about. This concept spoke to me yesterday especially since I had lots of things swirling in my mind. I think we all do … most of the time.

I felt like I was floating in this dreamy landscape.

While being still and quiet, I started to feel strength inside myself stemming from the stillness and listening. The dreamcatchers would softly shift their stance midair and slowly reveal another side of themselves. When we become quiet and still, I believe that is when our strength arises and our truth makes itself known. If we let it. The beauty surrounding me inspired me to relish in my own beauty. The stillness among this beauty reinforced my own belief in myself.

The dream catchers revealing alternate sides of themselves.

I wanted to write this post and share this experience with our McNair scholar community because it also makes me think of our scholars currently finding their voice through their work. Perhaps searching for their inner strength and stature. I’ve had recent conversations that point to self-doubt and questioning. Questioning one’s voice amidst the noisy playing field that is academe. Perhaps questioning if the effort required to grow one’s knowledge and utilize one’s voice is worthwhile.

I’ve had my fair share of “questioning moments” recently as well. As a matter of fact, today I will engage in discussion related to my own voice and work in this world. I spent a lot of time questioning myself, who I really am, what I’m really passionate about, how I wish to impact change and empower others. And right now, I’m done with the questioning. Not to say that the “questioning” won’t arise again and again. Because it will. It always does. But right now, I’m feeling firm in my own voice, in my choices in how I interact with others, how I share and bring beauty to each day.

In my exchange with Gracie, post-class, and thinking further about this notion of quietude and how it can lead to strength and clarity … about one’s purpose … about one’s work.

Gracie writes:

How bad do you want it? How good do you want it? Work is an unambiguous action. What do you want for yourself? What do you want for others? HOW do you keep going? Hint: it’s okay to die a little. Know your trade-offs. Know your exchange rate. You must love yourself more than any other version of you, each day, anew. You must trust yourself more than anyone. You must be content “going alone.” Details, interactions, time construction all matter. Do you believe in your work? If the answer is no, it’s time to refigure. If the answer is yes, you’re already on the path.

This is really an excerpt from her forthcoming work on Resiliency: An Art Form. I think it really captures the essence of what I’m trying communicate here today. If you are feeling a little “wobbly” with your work, where you are in your journey, try to embrace it as much as you can. Listen to the “questioning” that might be bubbling up for you. And then become quiet and still and really listen. Your strength and truth are there, if just below the surface. I’m definitely of the opinion that if you listen you will come to know. How about you?

P.S. You can find out more about Gracie and her work at HERE.