About Ronald McNair
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Ronald Ervin McNair was born on October 21, 1950, in South Carolina. In high school McNair led in track, football, and academics. After graduating as valedictorian of his class, he went on to graduate magna cum laude with a B.S. degree in physics from North Carolina A&T State University. At the age of 26, he received a physics Ph.D. from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and as a student, published path-breaking scientific papers on laser physics. McNair worked as a staff physicist at the Hughes Research Laboratory, and in 1978, joined NASA’s space program. The second African American to fly in space, he served as a mission specialist aboard the 1984 Challenger flight. In 1986 McNair and his fellow crew members died in an explosion aboard the Challenger. In his memory, Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which is dedicated to the high standards of achievement McNair’s life represented.