Ashley Demaio

Ashley Demaio has been admitted into the psychology masters program at Vanderbilt University! Vanderbilt is one among many schools Ashley has applied to. Ashley, originally a transfer student from Anoka, has worked very hard at UST to really build her scholarship in preparation for the next steps in her academic career. She began conducting research on the topic of “The Power of Self Talk: Its Effects on Racial Biases” under the mentorship of Dr. Sarah Hankerson. The following summer she was awarded the opportunity to conduct research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in the department of psychology. She conducted more research here at UST under Dr. Robinson-Riegler and Dr. Sarah Hankerson. Great job Ashley!! We are proud!

Ashley Demaio - Ashley News Center List Item

Nykeesha Greer

Excel Scholar, Nykeesha Greer, recently secured a job with 3M. This job is right on track with her next steps to graduate school, she plans to pursue a MBA. Way to go Nykeesha! 

Nykeesha - Nykeesha Center List Item

Divine Zheng

Next fall Excel! Scholar, Divine Zheng, will be attending The University of Oregon School of Law partially funded! In Summer 2016, Divine was a new scholar, who conducted a research project on “What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Learn? Analyzing the Role of Textbooks in Comprehensive Civil Rights Movement Education”. Mentored by Dr. David Williard of the History department, Divine continues to embrace the importance of social justice and looks forward to becoming a lawyer/leader in the movement for change! Congratulations Divine, we are proud of you! 

Divine was also chosen at the 2018 Undergraduaate Commencement Speaker! Click here to read more.  

Divine Zheng - Divine Center list Item

Elizabeth DeNio

Elizabeth DeNio, a 2016-2017 scholar, has accepted a spot in the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology program. Liz just returned from a semester long study in Denmark after having successfully completed the Excel! Research Scholars Program Summer Research Institute. Her research topic entitled The Influence of Social Media Selfie Feedback on Self-Objectification and Self-Esteem investigated the short-term effects of positive and negative selfie social media feedback on self-objectification and self-esteem. Her faculty mentor was Dr. Elise Amel. Congrats Liz!  


Elizabeth - Elizabeth DeNio

Dustyn Montgomery

Current Excel! Scholar, Dustyn Montgomery, was recenty featured on the St. Thomas Newsroom. Click here to read the story! 

Dustyn Montgomery - Dustyn News Center List Item


Newsroom Stories

To learn more about the research that has been done through Excel! and the success of its alumni, check out these Newsroom stories:


Past McNair and Excel! Scholars

Please join us in congratulating our previous McNair and Excel! Scholars for their success in completing advanced degrees and continued work in higher education. 

  • Xing Gao, MPH candidate, will attend University of California Berkeley, partial scholarship. 
  • Stephanie Garcia, Ph.D cadidate Neuroscience, Rutgers University, fully funded.
  • Mondraya Howard, Ph.D candidate at University of Pittsburgh - Pharmacology, fully funded. 
  • Dr. Sally Mahmoud, completed MD at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She is currently a resident Physician in Baltimore, MD. 
  • Dr. Paul Maitland-McKinley, completed MD and is practicing at Oregon Health Science University in Portland, Oregon. 

Recent Scholars 

Maya Johnson (Major Law), a 2015-2016 Excel Scholar and 2017 graduating senior, will be attending Mitchell Hamline School of Law in the fall partially funded. Maya participated in the University of Minnesota's Pre-Law Scholars Program, she was one of 25 students out of 500 to be admitted. The program consisted of LSAT preparation, law school information and panels, and career exploration in the field of law. This past January (January 2017) Maya studied abroad in Guatemala in a class titled Women's Health and Work offered through the Univeristy of St. Kate's Global search for Justice courses.

Xing Gao (Public Health), a 2015-2016 Excel Scholar and 2017 graduating senior will be attending UC Berkely in the fall, partially funded, as an MPH candidate in the Department of Public Health.  


Stephanie Garcia (Neuroscience), a 2015-2016 Excel Scholar and 2017 graduating senior will be attending Rutgers University next fall, fully funded, as a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Neuroscience. She has also been chosen as one of 100 students out of 600 applicants to take an exam for qualification for the Max Planck International Research School in Germany.


Thao Do (Pre-Med), a 2015-2016 Excel Scholar and 2017 graduating senior, has been busy doing lots of research. This past summer she had the opportunity to do research at Mayo Clinic, gaining experience in laboratory work and exploring more the field of biological sciences. In the fall of 2015 Thao worked on a research project with Dr. Jessica Siegal of the neuroscience and psychology department. Thao contributed as a second author to their paper entitled: "Effects of early adolescent methaamphetamine exposire on anxiety-like behavior and corticosterone levels in mice". This past november she and her colleague presented their research at the MidBrains conference in Illinois. She is currently continuing her Excel research with mentor Dr. Greg Robinson-Riegler and working with a pediatric neurosurgeon for research at the Children's Hospital. After graduation Thao will be taking one class, reasearching at the U of M, and serving as a medical scribe in preparation for med school. 


Trinh Ha (Public Health), a 2015-2016 Excel Scholar and 2017 graduating senior will be attending Loyola University, partially funded, as a MPH candiate in the Department of Public Health. As an Excel Scholar she conducted research on Hepatitis B in Vietnamese populations with mentor Dr. Ruby Nguyen of the University of MN, School of Public Health. After Excel Trinh continued her work on this topic through an intership for the Hepatitis United Twin Cities organization where she worked as a program developer to provide prevention resources and connections to care for at-risk populations. In the summer of 2016, she participated in the Pathway to Research Program through the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, a highly competitive program at the U of M. Trinh was one of only ten students selected to participate in this research program! 

   Trinh writes of the Excel Program:

"The information that I learned from Excel! such as how to write a research paper, how to do an oral presentation, and how to make a poster had helped me well for this summer (summer 2016). I would not be able to write a research paper, give a professional oral presentation, and construct the poster well without trainings from Excel! In addition, short training such as to be on time, how to connect with your mentor, how to do informational interviews with your mentor and other faculty, and time management have helped me to do well this summer. I am continuing to work with my current mentor until next spring to finish up this project and perhaps get involved in other projects. I want to say THANK YOU for everything that you have done for me and for pushing me to work hard. Thank you so much Miss Cynthia."  


Jonathan Santos (English), a 2016-2017 Excel Scholar and 2017 graduating senior will be attening UST in the fall, fully funded, for his Masters in English.                    

       Jonathan writes of the Excel Program:

"Becaue of Excel, and because I was convinced that I can do something above average, something exceptional, I now see myself as a scholar. I would highly recommend this program to any undergraduate students who stirve to see themselves that way." 


Hannah Drazenovich (Pre-Med), a 2016-2017 Excel Scholar and 2017 graduating senior, has secured an internship in an emergency room which she will do while also applying to medical schools. After her summer in Excel she presented her research at the 2016 McNair conference in WI. This past fall she received a Collaborative Inquiry Grant which is allowing her to continue her research.  


Kha Lor (Pre-med), a 2016-2017 Excel Scholar and rising senior, will be conducting research at the Children's Hosptial and Clinics while also studying for the MCAT. Last year she also presented her research at the Ronald E. McNair conference in Delavan, WI and the at the annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Tampa, FL. She has also successfully begun the Minnesota Future Doctors Program at the University of Minnesota while continuing research around PTSD at the Veterans Administration hospital. During the spring of 2018 she plans to participate in the study abroad program with the School for International Training. This particular program is held in Jordan and is concentrated on the regional refugee crisis especially in the context of refugee health and humanitarian actions. 


Roumany Phann, a 2015-2016 Excel Scholar is a rising senior who will be conducting reasearch on campus next year. 


Other past graduates:

Adam Baker, M.A. Higher Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Lauren Miller, M.A. American Studies at Purdue University
Aquanette Early, M.S.W. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Mai Eng Lee, M.S.W. University of Wisconsin, Madision
Ariel Gittens, M.S. Queens University of Kingston, ON