Life of Ronald E. McNair


One of America’s first African American astronauts, Ronald Erwin McNair was born October 21, 1950 to a struggling family in racially segregated Lake City, South Carolina. Even as a child, he refused to accept second best. A star athlete, honor student, skillful musician and karate champion, he set a goal of getting his Ph.D. within 10 years of graduation from high school.

After graduating from Carver High School, Lake City, South Carolina, in 1967, he attended North Carolina’s Agricultural and Technical State University where he graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. degree in physics in 1971. He then enrolled in the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1976, at the age of 26, he earned his Ph.D. in laser physics. In addition to his Ph.D. in Physics, Ronald McNair was an attentive husband, a loving father to his son and daughter, a 6th degree black belt in karate, and an accomplished jazz saxophonist.