1st Black Female Computer Science PhD Student At Univ. Of Michigan Reveals Lack Of Rolemodels

Source: Brittany Tom / theGrio

“Am I really the first?”

That was the first thought that came to mind when Kyla McMullen, 29, found out she would soon become University of Michigan’s first African-American female computer science PhD alumna this past year.

McMullen decided to go to the records office to search for another fellow black female alumnus to connect with. But she soon discovered that she would become the first black female student in the history of the program to complete the PhD.

“Typically when you think of someone who is in computer science, you think of a person who is a geek — with pocket protectors, suspenders and highwater pants,” McMullen joked in a phone interview with theGrio. “African-American women often don’t think ‘Okay, I wanna be that [nerd].””

While McMullen’s graduation this past spring marked a racial landmark for Michigan’s computer science department, she said that her experience in the department was sometimes “isolating” because she had very few people to turn to for mentorship.

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