Samesha Barnes, Ph.D.


Dr. Barnes is originally from August, G.A. She completed bachelor's degrees in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Clark Atlanta University and Georgia Tech through their dual-degree engineering program. As a PhD student in Materials Science and Engineering, Dr. Barnes was a Graduate Mentor for four years. Dr. Barnes has served as director and lecturer with the McNair Scholars Program since 2011. In her spare time she enjoys writing, blogging, singing, cooking, and traveling.

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Ronda Vinson

Administrative Assistant

Ms. Ronda Vinson was born and raised in Gainesville, FL and has worked at UF since 1995. ROnda serves as a point of contact with faculty, staff, students, and their families when visiting the McNair Scholars Program. Her work gives her the opportunity to meet different people from all walks of life and allows her to be a positive role model in the lives of others. Ms. Ronda looks forward to many more years with McNair and holds to the principles of an ancient African proverb as it relates to supporting the students in the program, "It takes a village to raise a scholar."

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Daniel CIcenia, Ph.D.

Academic Success Coach

Dr. C has a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Florida and is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in Student Personnel in Higher Education from the University of Florida. A quote that Dr. C would like to share with current and future students is: "With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts." - Eleanor Roosevelt

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Melanie Hechavarria

Graduate Assistant

Melanie Hechavarria is a master's student in the Social and Behavioral Sciences program of Public Health since Fall of 2019. While pursuing her B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Health Disparities at UF, she served as the Vice President of the Black Student Union, was a Resident Assistant at Graham Hall BCLLC, and created a Health Education Program for underserved youth in Gainesville. Now as a graduate assistant, Melanie relies on the knowledge she gained of UF and the resources available to aid undergraduate student success. A quote that pushes Melanie and she hopes encourages others is by Maya Angelou, "I come as 1 but stand as 10,000."

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