HERstory: Kalisa Villafana First Black Woman To Earn Ph.D In Nuclear Physics in Florida

August 11, 2019  |  

People In Graduation Gowns Walking On Road

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It’s 2019 and black women are still making history. Kalisa Villafana became Florida State University’s first black woman to graduate from their nuclear physics program with a Ph.D.

Villafana, who graduated on Friday (Aug.9th), said she couldn’t see herself accomplishing this goal anywhere but Florida State.

“When it comes to a Ph.D. program you have to feel like you’re going to thrive and the people there want you to succeed,” she told ABC News. “That was what I got from FSU. None of the other schools I visited gave me that energy.”

Villafana is now the 96th woman in the U.S with a doctoral degree in physics.

The Trinidad and Tobago native said she Hope’s that she has inspired people from her country and shown them that it’s possible to get the education you want.

“I want to show them how to get to the next point,” she said. “In Trinidad, many people don’t know how to get to the United States and get a Ph.D. that’s paid for by the school. They don’t know how to go from being an international student from the islands to a doctor in the U.S.”

Villafana, who plans to work as a process engineer with Intel Corporation in Arizona, wants to pursue a career as a medical physicist specializing in cancer research.

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