Meet the McNair Team

Thelma Harding, Director

Hometown: Pleasant Hill, North Carolina (Northampton County)

Academic and Iowa State Background

  • Over 25 years of experience in graduate recruitment and retention primarily with underrepresented student populations
  • 15 years with McNair at Iowa State University 

Role as McNair Program Director: I am responsible for complete program oversight, ensuring that program goals and objectives are met. I also teach the two second-year McNair courses, centered on choosing, applying, enrolling, transitioning, and surviving graduate school.

Good to Know: We get to know our Scholars very well during their participation in the McNair program. We are readily available to assist, advise and support our Scholars throughout the graduate application process and entry into graduate school. Even on my worse days, I can still say that I love what I do and really enjoy working with students!

Favorite Food: I don't actually have a favorite food. My taste varies with the seasons and what I have access to in Central Iowa.

Hashtag: #McNairWorks


Ashley Garrin, Ph.D., Assistant Director

Hometown: Waterloo, Iowa

Academic and Iowa State Background:

  • 3-time alum of Iowa State University
  • McNair, TRiO Student Support Services, and Upward Bound Program alum
  • Ph.D. in Apparel, Merchandising and Design; emphasis on social, cultural, historical aspects of dress, and marginalized groups' dress
  • Research and continued scholarship in Black Feminist Thought, hair and African American women, and developmental mentoring in higher education

Role as McNair Program Staff: I support the Director's work as well as design and teach the academic research methods course. I also work with Faculty and Graduate Student Mentors in an effort to provide successful experiences for our McNair Scholars.

Good to Know: My passion revolves around social justice in higher education, student activism, mentoring relationships of underrepresented students, and equal access to graduate-level study. As an ISU McNair alum, I understand the value of the McNair program for students in pursuit of graduate degrees. I am beyond excited to serve our Scholars and can offer great insight into their needs, thanks to my own McNair experience.

Favorite Food: Iced coffee and Salted Carmel Mocha's from Starbucks and all forms of tacos!

Hashtag: #educationasactivism


Arnold Woods, Program Assistant

Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa

Academic and Iowa State Background:

  • Iowa State University alum (2010)
  • B.S. in Communications
  • Current Iowa State University Master's student in Higher Education, Student Affairs
  • Research interests focused on what programs PWIs offer or should offer to assist Black male, particularly those in STEM fields, in their persistence in college and completion of a degree

Role as McNair Program Staff: I work primarily with the Program Director and Assistant Director to coordinate and implement goals of the McNair Program. I am the first person of contact in the day-to-day operations of the program.

Good to Know: Helping underrepresented students in higher education is my passion. I’m grateful to work with a great team, helping McNair Scholars reach their full educational potential here at Iowa State.

Favorite Food: My Mom's mac and cheese

Hashtag: #EmpowerUnderrepresentedStudents


Lynn Lundy Evans, Research Writing Consultant

Lynn Evans

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Academic and Iowa State Background: 

  • 3-time Iowa State alum and former student affairs professional at Iowa State University
  • Instructional Designer for Engineering-LAS Online Courses
  • Current Iowa State University Ph.D. student in Human-Computer Interaction (in Engineering) and Information Systems (in Business)
  • Research interests in design practices in online learning and new systems training for Faculty and Staff; user experiences with new technology; developmental mentoring in higher education, and situated learning

Role as a McNair Program Staff: My job is to assist with all McNair initiatives; I work closely with the first-year program experience, helping McNair Scholars learn to effectively communicate research in written, oral presentation, and poster form.

Good to Know: I am a lover of technology and the internet of things, technical writer by trade, and small business owner and consultant. More importantly, I am a member of many underrepresented populations and advocate for social justice and equity. Everyday, I try to do what I can to combine these passions. 

Favorite Food: Coffee(s) and popcorn

Hashtag: #easilyluredbycoffeeandshoes