27-Year-Old Ciara Sivels, from Chesapeake, Virginia, United States, has made history by becoming the first-ever African-American woman to earn a PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan. Sivels began her higher education journey at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she earned her Bachelor’s degree before proceeding to the University of Michigan for her record-setting PhD degree.
Sivels’ journey to achieving her doctoral degree began when she was in high school. Initially interested in culinary arts, a teacher encouraged her to pursue Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). She then decided to pursue engineering and eventually ended up in the nuclear program.
In an effort to expose more Black women to the world of STEM, Sivels established an organization called Women in Nuclear Engineering in Radiological Science. She believes that her path could have been much easier if she had been exposed to STEM-related topics earlier and believes that representation and exposure is key.
During her graduate studies at the University of Michigan, Sivels was one of only three black women completing her PhD degree at the university. After completing her program, she became the first-ever African-American female graduate of the University of Michigan’s Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences.