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27-year-old woman earns PhD in Nuclear Engineering, sets record as the first African-American woman to win award at US university

The first ever black woman to receive a Doctorate in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan in the United States is a smart 27-year-old named Ciara Sivels.

American citizen Ciara Sivels is from Chesapeake, Virginia. Before moving on to the University of Michigan to complete her ground-breaking PhD, she began her higher education career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she received her Bachelor’s degree.

When she was a senior in high school, she remembers being interested in the culinary arts until her teacher persuaded her to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) (STEM). In an interview with the Huffington Post, Ciara Sivels recalled the teacher from that class telling her, “Well, you’re extremely smart, you should consider about pursuing something other than cooking.”

“So that’s kinda how I switched over into engineering and eventually ended up at MIT and ended up in the nuclear program,” she added.

In order to introduce more Black women to the field of STEM, Ciara Sivels founded a group called Women in Nuclear Engineering in Radiological Science while she was still a student.

“My two big things are representation and exposure. 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,” she said.

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