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Cheyenne McNair Scholar Receives Full Ride to Michigan Doctorate Program

April 27, 2016
woman posing with a group of children
Kimberly Sanchez, a UW graduate and McNair Scholar, spent the fall 2014 semester teaching English to K-12 students in Mongolia. She plans to continue her global studies in anthropology at the University of Michigan. (UW Photo)

At an early age, former University of Wyoming student Kimberly Sanchez, of Cheyenne, developed a love for anthropology.

Her fascination with anthropology began as a sixth-grader while studying the ancient Egyptians and Romans. As her desire to study human nature grew, her teachers at Cheyenne East High School supported her wish to study anthropology at a higher level.

Sanchez received bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and Russian at UW in December 2015.

During her freshman year at UW, Sanchez participated in the GEAR UP Wyoming program and later was accepted into UW’s TRiO McNair Scholars Program. McNair is a federally funded program designed to provide disadvantaged college students with effective preparation for doctoral study.

As a sophomore, Sanchez took UW Department of Anthropology Professor Todd Surovell’s course, “Old World Archaeology.” Surovell’s research in Mongolia helped Sanchez develop an idea for her McNair research project, titled “Working Hard or Hardly Working? The Division of Labor among the Dukha Pastoralists in Mongolia.”

In fall 2014, she expanded her research and spent the semester in Khankh, Mongolia. There, she taught English to K-12 students and worked on her second research project, titled “It’s a hard knock life: Hope and despair among women in a Mongolian village.”

One main focus of the McNair Scholars Program is preparing students -- through intensive undergraduate research -- for acceptance into Ph.D. programs.

Based on Sanchez’s work as a McNair Scholar, she was accepted into various doctoral programs at the University of Cambridge, University of Georgia and the University of Michigan (UM). She will attend UM in the fall, and her doctorate will be fully funded.

UM also has nominated her for two fellowships: the Weiser Emerging Democracy Fellowship, worth up to $20,000; and the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, worth up to $15,000.

The UW McNair Scholars Program is currently accepting applications. Eligibility criteria require the following: U.S. citizenship or permanent resident; first-generation student (neither parent has a bachelor’s degree); income eligible, usually receiving a Pell Grant; sophomore standing; cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher; and desire to earn a Ph.D., not including professional degree programs.

The program is fully funded by the U.S. Department of Education at $288,000 annually.

For more information about the UW McNair Scholars Program, visit

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