27-Year Old is First Black Woman to Earn Ph.D in Nuclear Engineering From the University of Michigan

Something we will continue to hear as Black people continue to break barriers, REPRESENTATION MATTERS!!!


A feat that takes most people well into their 30's or even later to achieve, Ciara Sivels did it at 27. Sivels is the first Black woman to earn a doctorate degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan. Ciara is from Chesapeake, Virginia, presented her thesis on “Development of an Advanced Radioxenon Detector for Nuclear Explosion Monitoring.” What makes this even more interesting is that Ciara did not always have an interest in science.


Once she graduated high school, she wanted to attend a culinary arts school. However, as with most high school teachers, they push us in another direction after educated conversations. She had a teacher that told her about STEM majors and careers, so Sivels made a decision to look at the STEM field.


Ciara said in an interview with the Huffington Post, “I remember the teacher from that class saying, ‘Oh, you’re really smart, you should think about doing something other than culinary. So that’s kinda how I switched over into engineering and eventually ended up at MIT and ended up in the nuclear program.”


While in her program, Ciara also founded the organization, Women in Nuclear Engineering in Radiological Science. She felt it was imoerative to expose a greater number of Black women to the STEM world. Her biggest things are "representation and exposure."


She said, “I feel like my path could have been a lot easier if I would’ve been exposed to things at a different time. I still feel like exposure is key, and representation also helps because you have people that look like you that can help pull you up when you’re failing."


Image Source: Twitter

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