ArchNative.com recently featured Clark Nexsen designer, Zakiya Wiggins, in their “Women Who Build” series. From her interview:
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey in Architecture?
I am Zakiya Wiggins, an architectural designer, artist and advocate from Cary, NC. I discovered architecture as a high school freshman while I was working on a career research project. At the time, like many freshmen, I had no idea what would follow the next four years. I knew that I had been drawing and painting my entire life, and that I would always want to create; but what I would go to college to major in was still a mystery. Since I had not yet taken calculus, I still loved math. Once I paired my passions with my dreams of traveling the world, I set my sights on becoming an architect. At that point in my life, I did not have any architectural mentors or family members in any related field, no overly supportive teachers, and limited internet access.
The reason I am where I am today is due to a guidance counselor that believed in me, and a family that has always breathed life into my dreams. I put so much emphasis on the very beginning of my journey because so many young women that look like me, simply have not had the exposure to the profession, or encountered someone at some point in their journey that shot down their dreams because they did not look the part. Time has not stood still since I began to navigate through this profession. From NC State, to Morgan State, to being a practicing architectural designer that is pursuing licensure.
As a woman in the architecture and construction industry, first you must know yourself, and next you must understand the power and importance of your voice.
What about the industry enticed you to make it your career?
Architects think that they can save the world. When we all visit a new city, state or country, it is typically for the food, buildings and natural wonders. There is such an opportunity to impact culture, community, and day to day life with how we shape the built environment. There is an opportunity to heal forgotten communities. There is an opportunity to create spaces that become the backdrops for social movements, major life milestones and educational advancement. I was enticed to be an architect because I saw the chance to do some good in this world, and that is what keeps me going.
You are an executive board member for your local chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects, can you tell us a little bit about this incredible organization?
I currently serve as the Interim Vice President and Secretary of the North Carolina Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NCNOMA). The NCNOMA chapter is still relatively small to be a state chapter, but we are actively working to grow the chapter and provide value for members. One of NCNOMA’s major initiatives at this moment is the Project Pipeline architectural summer camp geared towards minority middle school and high school students, for which I am a co-chair. Because of my journey, I understand the invaluable opportunity that we are able to create with this camp. While the camp that I attended as a high school student was life changing, it is not lost on me that I was privileged to have parents that were able to afford my attendance. To be honest, I even paid a part of the camp registration.
The Project Pipeline camp removes the financial gatekeeping by providing a camp that is typically less than $100 and has scholarships available for students in need. For professional level NCNOMA members, we are listening to the needs. The newly reinstated NCNOMA chapter has a wide range of experience levels, and highly active student chapters. Every general body meeting, we make an effort to incorporate new ideas and programming for our members, and greater community.
Read the full ArchNative interview with Zakiya.
ArchNative is a platform for women who build and inspire to share their stories and educational journeys with the goal of redefining the role of females in the field of estate. Covering architecture, design, development, construction, and brokerage, the website promotes female leadership and provides networking opportunities, mentorship programs, and a place to foster a conversation and community among women in the field.