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1st black woman to earn a Ph.D in Nuclear Engineering at MIT

SUCCESS: Mareena Robinson Snowden (Photo credit: Instagram)

MAREENA ROBINSON SNOWDEN, a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has made history as the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the prestigious university.

The student graduated on June 8, and took to Instagram to share her excitement over her landmark graduation.

Posing in her cap and gown, Snowden said: "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."

Following the ceremony, the MIT graduate spoke to CNBC about her interest in engineering. “Engineering definitely was not something I had a passion for at a young age. 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.”

However, her math and physics teachers in high school changed that for her, and by the time was in the 12th grade, she and her dad decided to visit the physics department at Florida A&M University since she was deciding on colleges at the time.

“They treated me like a football player who was getting recruited. They took me to the scholarship office, and they didn’t know anything about me at the time. All they knew was that I was a student who was open to the possibility of majoring in physics,” said Snowden.

While at MIT she was often the only black person or woman in her classes which was quite the change since she attended an HBCU.

Since graduating from MIT, Snowden - who counts Katherine Johnson as one of her main inspirations, she has taken on a new position at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she will be focusing on nuclear security, as well as policy research and writing about nuclear weapons.

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