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McNair Scholar 2017Gao Thor

Gao Thor is a senior at Macalester College majoring in Psychology and double minoring in Educational Studies and Religious Studies. Her identities as a first-generation college student from a refugee background living under the poverty line has inspired her to use research to help students from similar backgrounds. Her research interests include higher education access and resiliency among underrepresented students. She plans to obtain a Ph.D. in Higher Education.

Thor photo
My dream is to contribute to my community and ensure that every member is able to live a happy, healthy, and thriving life. As Senator Al Franken stated, in order for people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, they must first be given the boots. I hope to create a more just and equitable society by helping disadvantage people navigate their lives and provide them with proper resources, primarily with education.”

Research project

A Tale of Two Central Graduates 20 Years Apart: A Collaborative Autoethnography on College Access

Abstract: In this collaborative autoethnography, the researchers described and analyzed their own experiences with college access within their sociocultural contexts. They investigated the questions: How did we choose to go to college? Why did we choose our respective colleges (Macalester College/Morehouse College)? The researchers read the book Becoming Critical: The Emergence of Social Justice Scholars edited by Muhammad A. Khalifa and Felecia Briscoe (2016) and utilized techniques that some authors used for this present research. Data was collected through a.) writing prompts, b.) interviews, and c.) researching primary sources. Results indicated two separate individual themes of early seed planting and acculturation navigation and a joint theme of the unjust practice of school tracking. Download poster. [PDF]

Faculty profile

Dr. Na’im Madyun the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs, Diversity, and Outreach for the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. He received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Morehouse College. He completed his masters in Educational Psychology and doctoral degree in School Psychology from the University of Minnesota. His research interests include using social disorganization theory, social capital theory, and the concept of cultural capital to explain educational disparities and the connection of the African American experience with educational outcomes from middle school to the professoriate. Dr. Madyun is published in numerous academic journals. In 2007, he received the Presidential Multicultural Faculty Award (PI) award at the University of Minnesota.