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30-year-old Mareena Robinson Snowden walked across the commencement stage at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on June 8 and became the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the university.

“Grateful for every part of this experience — highs and lows,” she wrote on Instagram. “Every person who supported me and those who didn’t. Grateful for a praying family, a husband who took on this challenge as his own, sisters who reminded me at every stage how powerful I am, friends who inspired me to fight harder. Grateful for the professors who fought for and against me. Every experience on this journey was necessary, and I’m better for it.”

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First black woman to earn a PhD from MIT in Nuclear Engineering **insert praise break here* . No one can tell me God isn’t. Grateful is the best word I have to describe how I feel. Grateful for every part of this experience – highs and lows. Every person who supported me and those who didn’t. Grateful for a praying family, a husband who took on this challenge as his own, sisters who reminded me at every stage how powerful I am, friends who inspired me to fight harder. Grateful for the professors who fought for and against me. Every experience on this journey was necessary, and I’m better for it. . When they ask where the skilled black female technical minds are, know there are many – @joymariejohnson, @_sai_89, @rhondalenai, @being_niaja, @jtiaphd, @siangoan, April Gillens, @beyoncizzle, Tiera Fletcher, Ciara Sivels, Grey Batie, @tashaleeb, @special_kay868, Staci Brown, Njema Fraizer, @jedidahislerphd, Delonia Wiggins, Jami Valentine Miller and many more – who show up proudly in the fullness of their black womanhood and fight each day for our place in these fields. . I’m grateful to be in this number, and happy to have proved the principle in my own department. 👩🏽‍🎓👩🏾‍🔬⚛️

A post shared by Mareena Robinson Snowden, PhD (@mrobinsonsnowden) on


Snowden told CNBC that as a child she never dreamed of a career in STEAM. She said, “I was quite the opposite. I think my earliest memories of math and science were definitely one of like nervousness and anxiety and just kind of an overall fear of the subject.”

She said that her high school math and science teachers helped her get over that fear.

When she was a senior in high school she and her dad were introduced to FAMU, when they visited she said she was treated “like a football player getting recruited.” When they found out that she was interested in majoring in physics, they took her straight to the scholarship office, reports CNBC.

She decided to attend FAMU and during her undergrad she participated in MIT’s summer research program where she was introduced to nuclear engineering. She decided to continue her education and applied to eight schools but was only accepted by one, MIT’s nuclear engineering program.

“You know, you take a risk, you put yourself out there and sometimes you get a hit — and you only need one hit,” she told CNBC. “You don’t have to get into every school. You just have to get into the one that you’re supposed to be at.”

She enrolled at MIT in 2011, and, according to her adviser, quickly made her mark, reports  CNBC.

According to CNBC it took Snowden some time to adjust to MIT, partly because she was often the only Black face in a room which is a major change coming from an HBCU.

To keep herself motivated she surrounded herself with photos of Black women who were successful in STEM before her.

“I had a picture of Katherine Johnson on my wall right after ‘Hidden Figures’ came out, because she was a model for me,” she told CNBC . “People ask me all the time, ‘Who’s your role model?’ and you know, you pick and choose from different places. And it was like now, I have a tangible woman. I have Katherine Johnson, who was a mathematician and a Black woman killing it.”

Now she’s working at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she says she will be focused on nuclear security, including policy research and writing about nuclear weapons, reports CNBC.

She hopes her accomplishments will inspire other young people to confidently pursue careers in fields where they might be a minority.

Women In Government, Science & Technology You Need To Know
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13 thoughts on “Meet The First Black Woman To Earn A PhD In Nuclear Engineering From MIT

  1. tedgravely on said:

    Folks a man finding a wife is a good thing. Black men need to wife up beautiful black women early. You can wait a few years to have kids (travel, climb the ladder, etc..). Don’t count on a man, but make yourself available for a Godly Man. She is 30. I pray she doesn’t wait too long. The man won’t make her, but I would love to see this beautiful woman with a great career, successfully married, with gorgeous fat cheeked babies. We need more strong examples of families. I look at beautiful black women that waited too late like Gabby Union, Queen Latifah, Vivica, MC Lyte, etc. Those women are all different, but beautiful to me. We’re missing out on a generation of excellence. It is just my opinion, but we need each other.

    • Passing Through!! on said:

      She’s in a good position being that she accomplished all of this by 30. Most people don’t finish their Ph.D until mid-late 30’s or even 40’s so she had her stuff together! Hopefully she’s already has a special someone, a beautiful black man I hope.

  2. Congrats to her! If she was my younger self I would tell her to not worry about men or starting a family for the next fifteen years at least. Build on the professional foundation she has started. Seek all the opportunities, travel the world, make your mark without having the responsibilities that come with marriage and children. You can do that anytime. Concentrate on YOU. Know your worth and make your mark on the world! So what, men prefer to marry other, more traditional women. You have a choice too. And you choose YOU!

  3. tedgravely on said:

    Now that’s impressive. A beautiful sister with a brilliant mind. Brothers should be knocking down the door – she is wife and mother material. Stupid fools would rather marry a nanny. MIT. MIT. This is also a major slam dunk for FAMU. She went to a HBCU for undergrad and to one of the most prominent STEM schools in the country for her PhD. Home run, slam dunk, and touch down.

    • Passing Through!! on said:

      Stupid fools would rather marry a nanny
      You said it Ted, dummies would rather wife ho’s, and strippers or something white-ish like Kim Kardashian than date a fire chick like Mareena.

  4. Theresa on said:

    Congratulations to you and the many others that will be inspired by your accomplishments to step out of their comfort zone to achieve their greatness as well.

  5. African American Woman on said:

    Wonderful job sister! My daughter wants to be an Aerospace Scientist and I’m going to make sure she reads about this brilliant young woman…this is the kind of accomplishment we can be proud of. I bet she didn’t obsess about what white people think about her because all that matters is what she thinks of self…this should be a lesson.

  6. Phoenix Rising on said:

    Congrats to her! Very smart intelligent woman.
    Wondering when the dumb @ss in-bred #45 supporters will come on here to blast her talking stupid about some affirmative action? MacDummy? Jpunk, Chris, MacAttack (same as MacDummy) 3 – 2- 1…..go!

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