Miona Short stands as an extraordinary individual, marked by a series of notable accomplishments in her journey. She proudly holds the distinction of being the inaugural African-American woman to achieve a Bachelor of Science degree in Astrophysics from the esteemed University of Wisconsin-Madison. Furthermore, she is the visionary founder behind Shukrah, a pioneering beauty company dedicated to simplifying and enhancing the hair care experience.
Short’s passion for astrophysics started when she was two years old, after watching a Kraft Cheese commercial that featured a cow jumping over the moon. She asked her mother what that was, and learned that it was the moon. She then decided that she wanted to go there, and later, to study the stars.
She pursued her dream and graduated from UW-Madison in 2018, exactly 100 years after the first African-American woman graduated from the same university. She was also one of the few Black women with degrees in physics and astronomy in the country. She also became one of the few Black women with degrees in physics and astronomy in the nation. According to the American Institute of Physics, in 2018, only 223 out of more than 9,000 degrees in physics and 10 out of more than 300 degrees in astronomy were awarded to African Americans.
Miona expressed her deep sense of honor and humility regarding her achievement, which held particular significance as it aligned with the centennial celebration of Mabel Watson Raimey, the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning a law degree in 1918.
However, Short did not stop there. She also had another interest: beauty and hair care. She had always struggled with detangling her hair, especially after losing her grandfather to cancer in 2016. She searched for tools that would make the process faster and easier, but could not find any.
That’s when she decided to invent her own solution: the Carefree Comb, a patent-pending wide-tooth comb that allows users to detangle and shampoo or condition their hair in fewer steps. She taught herself computer-aided design (CAD), watched business shows, listened to podcasts, and participated in competitions to develop her product.
She launched her company, Shukrah, in 2023, and started taking pre-orders for the Carefree Comb. She hopes to ship them out by Christmas this year. Shukrah means “gratitude” in Arabic, and Short says it reflects her attitude towards life.
Miona is part of a growing number of Black female entrepreneurs who are making waves in various industries. According to the 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report by American Express, Black women-owned businesses grew by 50% from 2014 to 2019, compared to 21% for women-owned businesses overall. However, they still face many barriers such as access to capital, mentorship, and networks.
Miona said she plans to continue working on her company and expanding her product line. She also plans to pursue a master’s degree in astrophysics in the future, and hopes to become an astronaut someday. She said she still loves the stars and wants to explore them.
Short’s story is an inspiring example of how one can turn a personal challenge into an opportunity for innovation. She is not only a trailblazer in astrophysics, but also in beauty. She hopes that her product will empower people to embrace their natural hair and celebrate their unique beauty.
“I want people to feel like they can do anything with their hair,” she says. “I want them to feel confident and beautiful.”
Ever heard of Siphokazi Gatyeni-Dube? She is the first black woman and the first person ever to obtain a Doctorate degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in South Africa.
Siphokazi was born in a rural village in the Eastern Cape province in South Africa, where she lost her father at the age of eight. She was raised by her mother, who worked as a domestic worker and struggled to provide for her and her two brothers. Siphokazi had a passion for mathematics since she was young, but she faced many difficulties in pursuing her education.
She completed her high school education with the help of a bursary from the Department of Education. She then enrolled at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) for a National Diploma in Mathematical Technology, where she graduated with distinction. She continued her studies at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) at Stellenbosch University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Mathematics, also with distinction. Read more about Siphokazi here.
Short and Siphokazi is are inspiring example of someone who followed her passion and uses their talents to create positive impact in the world. We at Rising Africa will like to celebrate them today.
You are a really wise and clever lady. You are a true Rising African and an inspiration to younger Africans. Rising Africa is an exciting platform that highlights the tremendous achievements of Africans all around the world and provides the most up-to-date scholarship and sponsorship information to African youth. Our goal is to inspire and empower the next generation of African leaders by exposing Africans’ unique accomplishments and skills in industries such as technology, business, arts and culture, and social activism.
Rising Africa thinks that Africans have untapped potential to affect the continent’s future. Come celebrate African excellence with us.
- #BlackGirlMagic: Miona Short Is First Black Woman to Earn BS in Astrophysics at UW | Madison365
- After being 1st Black woman to earn degree in Astrophysics from UW, Miona Short makes history again – Face2Face Africa
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