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Friday, March 1, 2024

Young African woman sets record at US University, becomes first black woman to earn PhD in Nuclear Physics

A young lady named Fridah Mokaya has made history as the first black woman to earn a Doctorate in Nuclear Physics at the University of Connecticut, United States.

Fridah, from Nairobi made history by becoming the first-ever black female and the first black person to earn a doctorate in Nuclear Physics at the University of Connecticut, United States.

She stated that her parents went the extra mile to provide good education for she and her siblings.Fridah told African Warrior Magazine that one memorable thing from her childhood was in high school when it came time to pick her examinable subjects she missed the cut-off mark for Physics by a mere 2% but her father intervened to help steer her to her fate.

”One thing I will never forget is that in all this, my Dad did not talk much, he just told the teacher that I was his daughter and he knew me and what I can do and he had no doubt that I will excel in physics. This was the turning point,” Fridah said.

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Let’s just say that I worked hard and it paid off. I got an “A” in Physics when I sat for my KCSE exam. Looking back, I know that were it not for the deep belief that my parents and teacher had in me, I may not be where I am,” she added.

Fridah stated that another disappointment she faced in the university was when she was about to graduate from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and had a low grade.

“I did my four years on campus with very good grades and just a few days to graduation when the graduation list was out, lo and behold my name was on the second-class honors lower division list. I had never felt so distressed in my life. All the arduous work I had put in,” she said.


Despite graduating with low grades, she was able to pursue a master’s degree in Physics at Binghamton University (SUNY) in the United States. She then proceeded to study for her doctorate in Nuclear Physics at the University of Conneticut.

Fridah’s PhD research focused on the field of Experimental Nuclear and Hadronic Physics. She stated that not only was she the only black Physics Ph.D. female student in her department but she also had to juggle being a new mother.

”In the simplest terms, we use the nucleus as a “laboratory” to study fundamental interactions. So why is all this important? Well, it’s because it enables us to understand the fundamental building blocks of nature,” she said.

Fridah mentioned that she wishes that her achievement would inspire women to pursue STEM-related careers. She said she wants everyone to know that they can achieve anything they want in life adding that challenges along the way should propel them to keep going.

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