Undergraduate Student Profile: Sam McNair
March 7, 2018
A personal experience – along with an early interest in science – kick-started Sam McNair on his path toward medicine. It also shaped his ideas about what he wanted to learn along the way.
“I have someone close to me that has some cognitive disabilities, and I did some research into those particular disabilities, which gave me a greater sense of empathy and understanding toward people, in general, which is something I’m really grateful for” McNair says.
McNair will be graduating from MU this May with a double major in Biological Sciences and Religious Studies, a minor in Philosophy, and a Multicultural Studies certificate. McNair says he has benefited from being able to explore all his interests.
“The opportunity to get the science I need for medical school through Biological Sciences but also pursue and wrestle with life’s big questions through departments like Religious Studies and Philosophy has really been great,” he says.
McNair’s early experience also reinforced for him the importance of research. During his sophomore year, McNair had first-hand experience doing research in a behavioral neuroscience lab through a fellowship program in the Honors College. He says he was able to draw on this year-long research experience when he was selected to interview for early acceptance into MU’s School of Medicine through the Bryant Scholars Pre-Admission Program.
“One thing I noticed in my interviews is that I had really long and good conversations about research. It was a great opportunity to go ahead and show that I can think critically, that I can ask a testable question and propose a plan to answer that question,” he says. “Not everyone has the ability to do research, and Mizzou has afforded me that opportunity.”
McNair has been a Peer Advisor for the Division Biological Sciences since he was a sophomore. During that time, he says, he has “racked up” a lot of practical advice that he likes to share with incoming students. Top on his advice list, he says, is to get involved research.
“Research is super critical,” McNair says. “And, make sure you pick something you’re interested in. Your research experience will not only be more fulfilling, but it’ll be much easier to talk about when it comes to your med school interview.”
“It’s also critical to develop a life outside of biology,” adds McNair, who is an active member of a campus ministry program called Veritas. “I tell students to get involved in campus organizations that they’re passionate about, volunteer on the weekends, shadow in the local hospitals we have here. All those are really important and critical for being a well-rounded person.”
McNair will start at the MU School of Medicine in the fall as a Bryant Scholar. As part of his medical training, he will take courses in rural medicine and engage in clinical experiences in rural areas. McNair, who grew up in a small town outside St. Louis, is excited about the program.
“They want to see that people are committed to a rural community, and that’s something I can really get behind,” he says.
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