Social media star breaking barriers for women, graduates with Ph.D from ASU

As a doctoral graduate, Dr. Nicole Fantasi is now one step closer to her dream career as an Engineer.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 8:43 PM MST
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TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - She refers to herself as the “The Scholary Vixen,” Dr. Fantasi Nicole is one of 4,100 graduates from the Ira A Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

“It feels weird a little bit and cut when people call me Doc. I’m still kind of getting used to it. I’m like who are they talking to?” said Dr. Fantasi. “My major is Engineering Education Systems and Design.”

Dr. Fantasi is also a model and podcaster, and she dances too! As a doctoral graduate, she is now one step closer to her dream career as an Engineer, one who solves problems in the engineering space. Her goal is to keep every consumer top of her mind when products are being created.

“We kind of forget that we’re designing for people. We’re producing products for people, we’re producing services for people,” she says. “I’ll give you an example. There are some faucets that have sensors to wash your hands. There have actually been articles around persons of color putting their hands underneath, and the faucet not recognizing their hands. The majority of engineering spaces are white. So you have all white hands under there. So if I my hands aren’t of the lighter hue, the sensor is not going to recognize my hand.”

Dr. Fantasi wants to solve problems like these by simply representing people of color in the engineering processes. As for her name, Fantasi. Well, it’s a family theme. Her mom is Marvilous. Her sisters are “Joyful” and “Essence.”

On her education journey, she has been told by some she would not make it in the Engineering field. “Yes, all the time,” Dr. Fantasi says. “At the end of my freshman year, I ended up having a 1.92 GPA. A lot of times when people were just like, ‘oh, you’re not going to survive in this space.’ I lived in a rural area where it was the de facto segregated. So most of the good resources went to the private school. I didn’t really understand that I was on the autism spectrum more than I had ADHD. So I feel like because of the way I react, like interacting in certain spaces, it wasn’t the same as the other people, so they would assume I wasn’t invested,” she says.

Fantasi did eventually find support from several teachers and counselors along the way. Many encourage her to stay true to herself, which is partly why she is known not just as Dr. Fantasi but as “The Scholarly Vixen” on social media.

“I’m not your typical engineer, but I’m also not your typical model. I love dressing up and looking nice.” said Dr. Fantasi. “I want to show people that you can be all of these things. You can look good. You can, you know, feel good and everything. But you can also be smart, vibrant,” Dr. Fantasi says. More than 20,000 Instagram followers enjoy what she has to say as a scholar and overall spirit lifter.

Dr. Fantasi is very proud of herself but sometimes must be reminded of how much she’s overcome and accomplished. “My friends bring it to my attention more than I do. So a lot of times they’re like, ‘do you know like how big this is?’ I’m like, you know what, you’re right. It is big, isn’t it?”