P.S./M.S. 147 The Ronald McNair School

Dr. Ronald Erwin McNair (1950-1986) was the second Black astronaut in the U.S. to fly to space. In 1978, NASA selected him out of thousands to embark on the 10th space shuttle mission. On his second mission to space on January 28, 1986, he and six other of his crew members were killed in the space shuttle Challenger explosion.

Born and raised in Lake City, South Carolina, he excelled academically. At just nine years old, he attempted to check out advanced science and calculus books from his local library but was met with hostility from the librarian due to his skin color. Overcoming discrimination in the South, he became valedictorian of his high school and soon took a special interest in physics. He earned his Bachelor's of Science from North Carolina A&T State University and a PhD in laser physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. McNair would soon accumulate several academic awards, including Presidential Scholar, NATO Fellow, and Omega Psi Phi Scholar of the Year Award.

McNair has since become a hero to those underrepresented in education. Following the late astronaut's death, Congress endowed the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, dedicated to encouraging underrepresented ethnic groups and low-income students to enroll in PhD programs.