She was only 27 when she made a leap that people need to know and talk about - showing black excellence right there.
Here are words that might never become redundant - education is the key to fight oppression. And to put it across more directly, Black people need to believe in their excellence. So does Ciara Sivels - who's been representing black awesomeness.
According to Huffington Post, she was only 27 when she became the first black woman to earn her doctorate in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan.
While we are talking about firsts, it should also be known that this Chesapeake, Virginia, native has accomplished a major win at a top nuclear engineering program in the country.
Wonderful evening with Dr. Ciara Sivels, 1st Black woman to receive a PhD in Nuclear Engineering at Michigan! She spoke candidly about the importance of representation, advocacy, mentorship, & community. Thanks @WPI_OMA for a great #BlackHistoryMonth program @WPI! #BLACKandSTEM pic.twitter.com/tIlJH9hxNj— Dr. Catherine Whittington (@cfwhitt) 12 February 2019
In October 2018, Sivels successfully presented her thesis on “Development of an Advanced Radioxenon Detector for Nuclear Explosion Monitoring,” but she didn’t always have a passion for science.
In 1960, Vivian O'Brien became the first woman at #JHUAPL to earn a PhD (from @JohnsHopkins!) for her work in fluid dynamics. Today, APL's Ciara Sivels is the first black woman to get a PhD in nuclear engineering from @UMich. #BreakingBoundaries #tbt #WomensHistoryMonth2019 pic.twitter.com/dA6sHPTGHB— Johns Hopkins APL (@JHUAPL) 7 March 2019
When she graduated from high school, the scholar wanted to study culinary arts. It wasn’t until her teacher encouraged her to try her hand at STEM that she developed interests in nuclear science and engineering.
Introducing Dr. Aeriel Murphy-Leonard, Dr. Autumn Jade Bullard, and Dr. Ciara Sivels... Dr. Sivels is the FIRST black woman to earn a PhD in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences from the University of Michigan. 🎉 #goblue #ILookLikeAnEngineer #NSBEUM pic.twitter.com/fYZg280T0Q— Ladies Love STEM (@ladieslovestem) 22 May 2019
“I remember the teacher from that class saying, ‘Oh, you’re really smart, you should think about doing something other than culinary,’” she shared in an interview with Huffington Post. “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.
Ciara Sivels becomes the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan https://t.co/fLCZLS79CG— The Black Detour (@theblackdetour) 8 November 2018
And she wants more black women to give their excellence and use it in STEM. As the founder of Women in Nuclear Engineering in Radiological Science on her campus, Sivel feels it's important to expose more Black women to the world of STEM.
Congratulations to Dr. Ciara Sivels in becoming the first African American female graduate of the NERS PhD program!! pic.twitter.com/EtmDdnFkBK— U-M NERS (@umichNERS) 26 October 2018
“My two big things are representation and exposure,” Sivel’s shared, “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."
Congratulations Ciara Sivels for becoming the first black woman to graduate with a PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan!!! #blackgirlmagic Michigan Engineering GradSWE at UM pic.twitter.com/gd7pmyiU3l— CharleneWalknByFaith (@char0518) 24 October 2018
Why do people such as Dr. Ciara Sivels matter to the Black community? They lead by example. Moreover, such individuals are realizing that they have the agency to help other Black individuals.
The road to earning her Ph.D. was not easy, but Sivel received support from mentors like Dr. Sara Pozzi, the academic advisor for her thesis.
Congratulations to Dr. Ciara Sivels (27) who recently made history when she became the first African-American woman to ever earn a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences (NERS). She achieved this feat from the University of Michigan👏🏾✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/DGjAfx7ZeW— startupAFRICA (@startupafrimag) 10 December 2018
“This project was initiated by Ciara and represents a significant advance in nuclear explosion monitoring,” she told Huffington Post. Pozzi explained that representation matters, especially with the lack of diversity in science.