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Meet Kyla McMullen: The 1st Black Woman to Graduate With a PhD In Computer Science at Univ of Michigan

Dr. Kyla McMullen is the first African American woman to gradute with a PhD in computer sciences at University of Michigan.

Dr. Kyla McMullen

Dr. Kyla McMullen is the first African American woman to graduate with a PhD in computer science at the University of Michigan. When asked how she feels about her new title, the scholar replied “Bittersweet.” She explained that it’s gratifying to have the distinction of being the university’s first African American female to acquire a PhD in computer science, it reminds her of a sad reality: There aren’t enough men and women of color pursuing advanced degrees in computer science.

Out of the more than 1,400 Americans who received PhD’s in computer science from 2010 to 2011, less than a quarter were female, and a mere 1.2 percent – 16 people – were African-American, according to the latest Computing Research Association Taulbee Survey. Dr. McMullen has always had a passion for computer science and was nurtured throughout high school. Fortunately, the high school she attended had a special computer science track program. This meant exposure to a curriculum that most high schools lack, and the opportunity to take courses in computer programming and engineering early on.

If it were not for the advice of a guidance counselor — who’d recommended that she apply for UMBC’s Meyerhoff Scholarship Program — she probably wouldn’t have considered acquiring a PhD. in the field. “It was an excellent opportunity,” says McMullen of the program. Interesting enough one of her two study buddies, Nwokedi Ibika, is coincidentally the first African-American to get a PhD. in computer science from Perdue University.


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52 comments

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  13. God bless you, Dr. McMullen. Now pass it on.

  14. Tracye Kirkwood Wilson

    I don't know you, but I am very proud of your achievements. Congratulations!!!!! God has truly blessed you!

  15. Congratulations Dr.McMullen on your Accomplishment,Education is the key to our sucess. You arre an awesome example for women everywhere.

  16. This is a great accomplishment…..lets give the ladies support in any way we can to accomplish many great things…..PEACE!!!!!!

  17. This is a great accomplishment…..lets give the ladies support in any way we can to accomplish many great things…..PEACE!!!!!!

  18. Congratulations, Kyla! I'm proud of you. Go make your mark!

  19. I thank God for this Beautiful Sister who knew what she wanted and pursue it. We need more of our people to want more than standing on the street or working fast food. God Bless This Young Lady

  20. As a former academic advisor at The University of Michigan, I know Dr. McMullen accomplishment was no easy task. She soars heads above most. This is amazing. I am so proud of her. She has paved the way for others. I feel blessed to witness her achievement.

  21. As a former academic advisor at The University of Michigan, I know Dr. McMullen accomplishment was no easy task. She soars heads above most. This is amazing. I am so proud of her. She has paved the way for others. I feel blessed to witness her achievement.

  22. As a former academic advisor at The University of Michigan, I know Dr. McMullen accomplishment was no easy task. She soars heads above most. This is amazing. I am so proud of her. She has paved the way for others. I feel blessed to witness her achievement.

  23. As a former academic advisor at The University of Michigan, I know Dr. McMullen accomplishment was no easy task. She soars heads above most. This is amazing. I am so proud of her. She has paved the way for others. I feel blessed to witness her achievement.

  24. As a former academic advisor at The University of Michigan, I know Dr. McMullen accomplishment was no easy task. She soars heads above most. This is amazing. I am so proud of her. She has paved the way for others. I feel blessed to witness her achievement.

    • I guess the former academic advisor didn’t take the class that taught how to post only one comment containing identical content.

  25. This makes me so happy! What a nice change from all the grim news I've been following.

  26. Hello, you misspelled Purdue University. Please change ASAP since this is a FANTASTIC piece of news that should go out to the world but with no typos preferably ;).

  27. CONGRATS KYLA DO UR THANG MS LADT… VERY PROUD OF U…

  28. Devan Ray Donaldson

    I was at the her defense too, and she did a wonderful job! I see you Kyla! No, wait, excuse me, Dr. McMullen! So proud of you!

  29. I could not be any more proud of you if you were my daughter! Congrats! I just wish we had more Black women going the distance. Education is truly the key to our success, if we don’t have it, we cannot complain!

  30. Oh wow. Kyla is such a joy and we will miss her dearly here at Michigan! Keep doing great things Dr. Kyla McMullen! We should keep supporting our rising scholars as they are great role models to the next generation.

  31. I applaud all of her hard work! I am so happy to see something positive about us. I get tired of folks showing all the negativity. This woman is setting a great example. I hope more and more black folks follow in her footsteps. I am so proud of her! I wish her the best in her future endeavors!

  32. RIGHT ON SISTER,I DON’T KNOW YOU, BUT I FEEL VERY PROUD OF YOU AS IF YOU WERE MY OWN DAUGHTER,GOD BLESS YOU..

  33. That is wonderful! I applaud her and her efforts. This is inspiring, wouldn't you agree?

  34. Congrats & Kudos Young Lady I pray you go on to do even greater things!

  35. I woke up this morning looking for this notice…as I waited to hear about the white folks' award announcements and the precious little Quvenzhane Wallis, nominated for BEST ACTRESS (youngest ever), for her work in the little known "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Go see it, get a copy) and cheering Olympic Gold Medalist and TEAM SAVIOR Gabby Douglas. An interesting year for young sistas, doing stuff that affirms them AND UPLIFTS THE RACE! U GO GURLS! BLACK WOMEN ROCK!

  36. Wonderful story!

  37. This is one of my good friends! I was so surprised to see her on here. She really is AWESOME! You go girl!

  38. My husband has his Masters in Computer Science & our daughter's name is Kyla….what a lovely story.

  39. You are a awesome example.

  40. Outstanding! Very refreshing to see positive achievements highlighted as oppossed to the cacophony of negative views of people of African descent heard on a daily basis.

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