FIU McNair Scholar graduates at 53, awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

At 53, Claire Scott-Bacon graduated from FIU’s Honors College with a double bachelor’s in psychology and criminal justice.


By Isabela Corzo

Few would challenge that Claire Scott-Bacon ’16 is an inspiration. Balancing immigration, marriage, divorce and raising two boys, Scott-Bacon enrolled in college at 48. She defeated all odds and is on her way to becoming Dr. Scott-Bacon.

Scott-Bacon took a chance and applied to the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program at FIU in 2015. Her leap of faith paid off when she was one of 27 students selected to be part of the prestigious program.

As part of her McNair Summer Research internship, Scott-Bacon attended the University of Notre Dame. She served as a research assistant in the clinical psychology lab, where she gained an in-depth look at how personality and individual differences are measured, ultimately concluding in her research paper “Snakes in Skirts,” a study on the rise of female incarceration.

“My acceptance into the FIU McNair Scholars program was the turning point in my academic and future professional career,” Scott-Bacon says. “The McNair Scholars program created a positive learning environment which gave me the opportunity to spread my wings.”

As an FIU McNair Fellow, Scott-Bacon presented her research findings at research conferences nationwide, including at the FIU McNair Scholars Research Conference last October.

At 53, Scott-Bacon graduated from FIU’s Honors College with a double bachelor’s in psychology and criminal justice in December of 2016.

Scott-Bacon’s hard work and perseverance paid off when she was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP). This national fellowship supports selected graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) disciplines at accredited U.S. institutions.

This year, 13,000 students applied nationwide and only 2,000 were awarded the NSF GRFP. Scott-Bacon was one of three FIU students –including Gabriela Goldberg, studying neurosciences, and  Marcela Jaramillo, focused on environmental chemical systems – selected to receive the renowned fellowship; she was the only undergraduate student to be awarded.

Scott-Bacon will continue her education at the University of Notre Dame to pursue her Ph.D. in psychology and expand on her research on personality scales and traits.

“Through determination and discipline I was able to apply to graduate school to become the doctor, researcher and influential woman I was never encouraged to be,” Scott-Bacon says.