McNair Experience Leads to Career in Academia

June 30, 2010

Norman Golar

by Adriana Colindres

Norman Golar '02 feels certain he chose well in opting for a career in academia, and he credits Knox College with setting him on a path that has led to a faculty position at Stillman College.

As a Knox sophomore, Golar was chosen for the selective Ronald E. McNair Program, which encourages first-generation college students and members of underrepresented groups to pursue careers in higher education.

Working closely with Knox faculty members, Golar completed two McNair research projects analyzing the poetry of three contemporary African-American writers. Golar also published some of his own poems.

While at Knox, Golar also participated in various extracurricular activities. He played on the men's basketball team and served as president of Allied Blacks for Liberty and Equality (A.B.L.E.) and as co-coordinator of Real African Men Standing Up (RAMSU).

"The McNair experience in relation to my (overall) Knox experience allowed me to know rather than feel that I belonged in higher education, in academia," Golar said.

Through the McNair program, Golar presented his work at conferences all over the country.

"The opportunity to attend different conferences to speak to and with other McNair scholars from other colleges and major universities helped to bloom a confidence I did not know nestled within me," he said. "Because of the McNair program, I entered graduate studies knowing I was ready to achieve higher objectives and goals."

Also key to Golar's success was the close attention he received from numerous faculty members.

"I recall so vividly the close connection we students developed with faculty and other students during our matriculation at the institution and after we graduated from the institution," said Golar.

After earning a bachelor's degree at Knox, Golar continued with his studies. He received a master's degree in creative writing and a doctorate in composition, rhetoric, and English studies, both from the University of Alabama.

In spring 2010, he accepted a position as assistant professor and chair of the Department of English at Stillman, a historically black, liberal arts college in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Stillman and Knox College share similar values concerning students, Golar said.

Both schools want their students "to have invested in the cultures, the politics, and the education of the institutions," he added, "so that students may feel proud to say they have graduated from institutions that have enriched their sense of the world and the students' role within the world."