ArchNative Interviews N.C. NOMA’s Zakiya Wiggins

Photo of Zakiya Wiggins

ArchNative has chosen N.C. NOMA native Zakiya Wiggins for a profile in their “Women Who Build” section.

Zakiya is not only an architectural designer and artist, she also serves as the Interim Vice President and Secretary of the North Carolina Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NCNOMA). NCNOMA mission is to encourages the growth of minority architects and architectural businesses through education and awareness. Zakiya sat down with ArchNative, virtually of course, to talk about her journey in Architecture, her experience in Architecture school, and her role in this incredible organization.

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 pursing licensure. 

What was your first introduction to the field? 

After initially learning about architecture, my first true introduction to the field was not until over two years later at the NC State College of Design’s Design Camp. I attended the camp the summer prior to my senior year, and it cemented my fate to apply to architecture school. The camp was a pivotal confirmation of my career choice and influenced my choosing of NC State as my future home. As an architecture student, I went on to become a camp counselor and teaching assistant. Not only did those positions reinforce previous mentoring experiences, but they planted a seed to one day teach at the collegiate level.