Scholar alumna inspired to help relieve symptoms of menopause

Jeff Rice
September 21, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Markea Dickinson, a 2014 Penn State and Schreyer Scholar alumna, remembers when her mother, Debbie, had her first hot flash.

“She explained it to me like a fire that’s raging in your body, and you can’t do anything about it,” she said.

Dickinson said she was inspired to help her mother and the millions of other women worldwide who experience menopausal symptoms. The two women developed a wearable device, the Thermaband Zone, that provides heating or cooling sensations based on the body’s temperature.

Their co-founded company, Thermaband, recently received funding from Google’s Black Founders Fund for startups, which will bolster the $500,000 they’ve already raised through investors.

Dickinson, who graduated with honors in supply chain management, was a graduate student at the Yale School of Management when she started Thermaband. She credits her Penn State and Schreyer Honors College networks with providing valuable feedback about potential uses of the Zone in its early stages, including for those undergoing chemotherapy treatments or those who struggle with anxiety.

“What that did was give us all these different ideas for uses beyond menopause, and the reality of the lack of solutions for menopause,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson’s father, Marke Dickinson, and friend and fellow entrepreneur Asia Grant, both Schreyer Scholar alumni, helped put her in touch with Penn State students who became interns for the company.

Her own experiences as a student were instructive as well. A study abroad trip to Argentina during her junior year at Penn State “completely changed my lens,” said Dickinson, of what she wanted to learn and where she wanted to learn it, and her professors in her honors courses challenged her to “think beyond the grade I was getting and how can what I’m learning in classes translate to business.”

The Dickinsons have also created a Facebook group called “Multigenerational Sisterhood,” that serves as an online community for empowering discussions about women’s health and the stigmas surrounding menopause.

“Women that have gone through menopause give insights to women that are going through it now, and then women that have yet to go through it like me, it’s really nice to know what’s going to come and understanding what to expect,” Dickinson said. “That was a big part of why we made it intergenerational.”

Dickinson, who has already served as a mentor for Penn State students, encourages enterprising students who hope to start a business to be clear on where they can add value and to take advantage of their own networks to learn new skills.

“Take inventory of your toolkit in terms of what you know and what you don’t know,” she said. “Identify those areas that you don’t have expertise in and be humble and honest in those areas and be willing to ask for help.”

About the Schreyer Honors College

The Schreyer Honors College promotes academic excellence with integrity, the building of a global perspective, and creation of opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. Schreyer Scholars total nearly 2,000 students across the University. More than 15,000 Scholars have graduated with honors from Penn State since 1980.

  • Penn State alumna Markea Dickinson
    IMAGE: Wanderlust Photography CT
Last Updated September 27, 2021