Upon graduating from Virginia Tech, a 22-year-old Richmond woman cemented her place in history by becoming the state’s first-ever Black female nanoscientist.
Recent grad Ginai Seabron said she often noticed she was the only nonwhite student in her classes at the university but had no idea she’d be the first Black woman to earn a degree in the program.
“We talked to the department head and he looked it up and confirmed it,” Seabron told local station NBC 12.
Photos of her historic graduation went viral on social media, racking up nearly 74,000 likes and 14,000 re-tweets. The congratulatory messages continued pouring in as peers, friends and former classmates lauded Seabron for her accomplishments.
— ¡BOOSHEELENA¡ (@ori_ginai) May 9, 2018
According to Virginia Tech’s website, Seabron was one of just 20 graduating seniors in the nanoscience major. The university’s nanoscience program, which focuses on the study of an object’s make up, is just one of two in the entire state.
The road to graduation wasn’t always smooth for Seabron, who spent the hours before commencement reflecting on her last four years as a Virginia Tech “Hokie.” She said it wasn’t the least bit easy being the only Black person in the room, calling the experience “intimidating.” Luckily, she had the love and support of VT’s Black student body, who she said helped her stay encouraged through the tough times.
In turn, Seabron said she was able to help Black students like herself transfer into her major.
“The Black community at Virginia Tech is wonderful,” she told VT News. “The Black Cultural Center and everyone in the cultural and community centers are all amazing. They know me as Auntie Nai here. They are really my family away from home. Without them, I would not have made it. I can promise you that.”
Ginai’s mother, Sherita Seabron, described her daughter as a natural born leader and was overjoyed to see her finally cross the stage in May. Speaking with NBC 12, she said living three hours away from Ginai has been tough, but in the end, it made them both stronger.
“Pray with her, tell her she can make it, never give up,” Sherita Seabron said. “That wasn’t an option for her.”
For future students looking to accomplish big dreams of their own, Ginai Seabron offered these words of advice: “Continue to push. Rely on your family and your friends. Reach out to your professors. Go to office hours … Step out of your comfort zone. Get to know the people in your class — they could become your study buddies. You’ll think you’re the only person struggling, but as it turns out, everybody’s struggling.”
For now, Seabron’s post-grad plans include a one-year internship at her alma mater as she prepares to go back to school.