MIT elected its first-ever Black female student body president

Danielle Geathers, a junior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), made history when she was elected student body president in 2020 — the first Black student body president in MIT’s 159 years of history. And Geathers happens to be an expert on that history, too.

Geathers, who’s majoring in mechanical engineering with a concentration in product design, has also done extensive research into the history of Black women at MIT, according to CNBC’s Make It column.

“I actually did an independent study in the fall semester and I wrote 30 pages about the history of Black female recruitment at MIT,” Geathers told the outlet.

Out of MIT’s 4,530 undergraduates, only 272 identify as Black or African-American — just 6% of the total undergraduate population. Geathers hopes her role as student body president will help change that. Ideally, her goal is that “MIT is a more inclusive place and that Black student matriculation goes up next year.”

Geathers ran on a platform of “Unity, Authenticity and Equity,” with her classmate Yu Jing Chen as running mate. The entire campaign took place virtually, with tons of Zoom calls and social media campaigns, like the flyer below. In the end, the pair won by 28 votes.

A graduate of Miami Country Day School in Miami, Florida, Geathers was more than prepared for her leadership role at MIT, with plenty of student government and committee experience under her belt.

But Geathers took leadership at an unprecedented time in history. The college experience looks very different than it ever did before, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Also, last summer and fall, MIT students and staff reckoned with the Black Lives Matter uprising, with many students attending protests.

“I think part of this movement is doing what you can in your own space,” Geathers told CNBC. While it can be “overwhelming” to think of systemic racism as a national issue, she says she asks herself: “What can I, as a student government president, do?”

These days, Geathers has no choice but to hit the ground running. Congratulations to this bright young woman!

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