I’d like to thank GOD - and these bobby pins...

Two years ago, almost to the day, I packed my things and moved to New York City.  This move was the ultimate leap of faith for me - quitting my stable job in Atlanta and enrolling in NYU’s graduate school.  Crazy af.  BUT possibly a life-changing move.  (The jury’s still out on this)
 
Well, today’s the day I’ve been working towards for these past two years.  I’m graduating from NYU with a Master’s in Public Relations & Corporate Communication.  You’d probably imagine the first thoughts that crossed my mind this morning were something like “I did it!” or “I’m so excited to have accomplished this goal!” I’m here to tell you that those were the last things on my mind.  Instead, I woke up and thought…
 
“How the hell am I going to get this cap on my head?”  I’ve been growing my kinky, nappy, frustrating, beautiful, unpredictable natural hair out for about a year now, and the way this graduation cap is set up….
 
Let’s just say, I doubt the person who designed graduation caps ever imagined that someone like me would be wearing it.  A woman…of color… with hair that defies gravity.  
 
With that being said, I’ll stand with extra pride at my graduation. Knowing that Patriarchy is a Bitch, but in spite of that, I’ll be walking across that stage.  And by the grace of God and bobby pins - I’ll be able to confidently accept this blessing and step into this next chapter of life.
 

Black Women Built This

The MAD FREE website from inception to live, was created by Black Women. First, we’d like to highlight our original consultant.

Meet Dr. Jamika Burge...

Dr. Jamika Burge is the Head of Research Curriculum and Outreach at Capital One, where she oversees research curriculum development and outreach for user research at Capital One.  This means she ideates and creates innovative user research curricula that empower designers, developers, and product managers to apply design thinking and human-centered design principles into their daily work, and beyond. Prior to joining Capital One, served as a consultant to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the Information Innovation Office (I2O). She provided technical and management consult for innovative DARPA programs which were funded at over $70 million. She has also worked as a researcher at IBM Research (Almaden, CA and Watson, NY).  Jamika holds a Ph.D. in computer science, with a focus on human-computer interaction (HCI) from Virginia Tech, where she was an IBM Research Fellow.  She has been featured in the New York Times, ComputerWorld, and in 2016, she was recognized by HackBright Academy as a Top Tech Leader to Watch.

Jamika is Founder and Principal of Design & Technology Concepts, LLC, a consultancy that focuses on computer science design and education research.  She has consulted for Google, the National Center for Women in Technology (NCWIT), and the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U).  She is also active in computer science education and STEM preparedness efforts, and she has received NSF funding for her research supporting inclusion in computing and CS education.  Jamika’s career has also included positions in the academic (Spelman College and Howard University) and non-profit (Smarter Balanced at UCLA) sectors.

Day 1

I’m Jameelah, a 20-something-year-old ATLien living in NYC.  For the past year, I’ve been working with Michaela and co to help bring MAD FREE to black women everywhere - from BK to Paris to the internet and beyond...  So, as the resident millennial in MAD FREE, I’ll be keeping it MAD REAL on this blog from week-to-week.  First things first, it’s time to pop some champagne because...

MAD FREE is finally free and we hope it  gives you life.

It’s taken some time, but the journey was well worth it.  This site has been - let’s just say, a labor of ALL the things...

Sisterhood.  This site would not have been possible without the beauty and power in black women coming together.  MAD FREE is for and about black women, and a way of celebrating our sisterhood is by calling on one another first.  After speaking at the Black Women in Computing Conference at Howard University (#BlackComputeHER), MAD was connected with our brilliant site-maker, Cyntrica Eaton.  

Collaboration. Every step of the way has been taken with black women.  Our Production Manager, Copy Editor, Graphic Designer, everyone.  Black. Women. Get. Things. Done.  We all know this. (#NinetyFourPercent)

Frustration.  We’ve been trying to have a site made for about a year! It just took a while to find the right person, who understood our vision and could bring it to life. (We appreciate you C!)

So welcome to our MAD FREE Life! We’re MAD happy you came - you’re in a space that was designed for YOU. MAD FREE is #HereForBlackWomen

Shine On,

Jameelah

@meelanash