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: Responsible for complete program oversight - ensuring that program goals and objectives are met; teaching 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 scholarship in Black Feminist Thought, hair and African American women, and developmental mentoring in higher education

Role as McNair Program Staff: Support the Director's work in program development; design and teach the academic research methods course; 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 focuses 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: Support the Program Director and Assistant Director in coordinating and implementing goals of the McNair Program; 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 and Information Systems
  • Research interests in design practices in online learning and new systems including accessibility and technology training for faculty; user experiences with new technology; developmental mentoring in higher education, and situated learning

Role as a McNair Program Staff: Assist team with McNair program goals and initiatives; research writing consultant working closely with McNair Scholars, helping them learn to effectively design, develop and communicate research in article, 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


Erin Todey, Statement of Purpose Writing Consultant

Lynn Evans

Hometown: Ames, IA

Academic and Iowa State Background: 

  • M.A. Applied Linguistics/Teaching English as a Second Language, Iowa State University
  • B.A. French & International Studies, University of Iowa
  • Current Iowa State University Ph.D. student in Applied Linguistics & Technology
  • Research focuses on understanding the structure of academic genres that lead to more successful teaching and student engagement in academic discourse

Role as a McNair Program Staff: Writing consultant for McNair Scholars, helping them to develop more effective writing skills for application cover letters, statements of purpose and summer research experiences in prepartion for graduate school. 

Good to Know: I am very interested in how written feedback can help students develop their writing. In my work with the McNair Scholars, I work to merge these two interests to support students' writing development so they maintain agency of their ideas while still making sure their writing fits the expectations of the statement of purpose. I love being able to give a critical (but kind) reader's perspective to help students think carefully about how they structure their arguments. 

Favorite Food: Dumplings, especially pork buns

Hashtag: #kindnessalways #radicalempathy