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Mbadika: Meet Netia McCray and Her Limitless World of Ideas

February 13, 2024
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by Taylor Houston

Netia McCray grew up watching her parents make their dreams become reality. Her mother and father were scientists in their own right, demonstrating a particular knack for creation and production. 

Netia’s mother was a seamstress, demonstrating design development with her unique fashion creations for family and community members alike. Her mother would also spend her spare time teaching others how to nurture their own entrepreneurial spirits. 

Netia’s father was a mechanical engineer, working on cars and spending much of his time tinkering away at old gadgets and gizmos.

At the end of her junior year in high school, Netia was invited to check out MIT’s summer enrichment program, MITES (Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science). After aspiring to attend the school himself, her father fervently suggested that she attend the program. Unsure of what MIT had to offer, Netia was initially skeptical, assuming she’d be forced to learn nuclear physics. 

Once she reached the Cambridge campus, Netia was pleasantly surprised by MIT’s vast scientific opportunities, unveiling a rich world of potential. Netia was exposed to a unique network of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines, unraveling the mystery of science into something more digestible. Blown away by the fullness of STEM, Netia eagerly participated in the program and earned herself a full ride to the school as an undergraduate, making her family proud. 

Despite facing personal and social hardships, Netia was determined and graduated from MIT with a desire to bring her newfound passion to young students like her. She has been on a mission to demystify the world of science and open the doors of opportunity to more students of color ever since.

Shortly after graduating, Netia launched her company Mbadika, (bah-GEEe-kah), focusing on providing local Boston high school students with paid STEM internships. The internship program not only allowed the students to explore the sciences, but they also had a hand in developing some of the later programming for Mbadika. The first cohort of students contributed to the design and production of the MLAB field kits, which continue to inspire fellow explorers ages 8 and up.  Mbadika also recently launched a public workshop initiative, MLAB, to provide the general public access to STEM education in informal settings such as local shopping centers. Featured in a pop-up at the Cambridgeside Galleria, these biweekly workshops offered students and newcomers a taste of STEM by exploring the science of fashion or how to recreate items from popular films. 

Both the workshop and internship aim to bring various STEM concepts and practices such as design development, 3D Printing, digital content creation, and more. Netia has been able to present complex topics and ideas in a relatable and engaging way. In this way, Netia has successfully been able to empower people from all walks of life to take risks, be bold, and realize their innate ability to understand STEM. 

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