Kya Wiggins, a transfer student in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech, is passionate about improving systems and ensuring access to resources, especially considering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on supply chains. To some, this goal might seem daunting, but Wiggins thrives when exploring difficult problems.
“I was that kid who loved math puzzles and Sudoku and was always looking for a little thing to solve, so I’ve always liked a challenge.” Through her insatiable curiosity she developed a fascination with business, communication, mathematics, analytics, computer science, and technology.
These diverse interests led her to discover a passion for industrial engineering and supply chain management. Once she discovered what she wanted to study, Wiggins knew selecting *Georgia Tech would allow her to tap into the best networking opportunities, research, and internships available.
Buzzing with Potential
Prior to her Georgia Tech arrival, Wiggins studied Applied Physics and Mathematics at Berry College. She was the general manager for Viking Tutoring Services, which pairs Berry students with kids from local middle and high schools. She credits the administrative role with teaching her a lot about solving problems and communicating with faculty, parents and students, and effective methods for setting schedules and handling finances. Throughout this journey at her first college, Wiggins received a lot of support from her family.
“My parents pushed me to do the things I wanted no matter what obstacles came in my way. Or sometimes even things I didn’t want to do. I learned that once you overcome a small challenge it is much easier to believe you can overcome larger ones.”
As someone who is focused on making an impact, she felt that going to school at Georgia Tech would best prepare her for this goal.
“It was always the plan to transfer [from Berry to Georgia Tech]– I liked what they were doing but I wanted to start at a smaller school first. But you always hear about different things the students are carrying out and I wanted to join that community.”
Creating Bonds and Finding Belonging at Georgia Tech
Even though transferring to Georgia Tech to get a degree in dual degree Industrial Engineering was always the plan, getting adjusted to a much larger school took some time. To find community, Wiggins joined the influential Black Industrial Engineers connecting with like-minded individuals and pushing her own boundaries.
“One of the ways I coped with being a young black female was going to clubs to find others who are likeminded. It helped me to make those kinds of connections to not feel so alone not just in ISyE but Georgia Tech as a whole.”
Wiggins appreciates the collaborative environment of the club and the role models she found there. Additionally, she's actively involved in the Alumni Association and has plans to get involved with paper & clay.
“I’m most proud of all the different opportunities I’ve taken advantage of during my time as a dual degree student. I’ve done undergraduate research in physics and psychology. I’ve been a part of some data analytics project teams. I’ve worked at the Alumni Association and the Tech Square Research Building. And I’m currently getting my honors thesis published as an article in Physics Review E."
Wiggins’ honors thesis, Transition in eigenvalue statistics due to tunneling in a simple quantum system, is about how the arrangement of energy levels in a quantum system changes when the system's behavior shifts from being orderly to chaotic. In simple terms, when a system's behavior changes from being very predictable to more random, the pattern of energy levels also changes.
After finishing her first four years of school, she knew her Zell scholarship would no longer cover her tuition and she needed to find another solution to help offset the cost of education.
Empowered by the Amazon Scholars Program
As Wiggins completed her first four years of school, she faced the realization that her Zell scholarship would no longer cover her tuition expenses. Determined to find a solution, she turned to the Amazon Scholars Program, a scholarship opportunity her mother had shared with her. Amazon scholarships support and encourage under-represented students to consider careers in the transportation, supply chain management and logistics fields. Wiggins received a financial award of $5,000, to be split over two semesters, for tuition. Wiggins admires Amazon's commitment to process improvement and distribution efficiency, making the scholarship a perfect fit.
"This scholarship helped me achieve more of a work-life balance to complete my degree instead of worrying about the financial burden that comes with education," Wiggins emphasizes.
Fueled by her interest in analytics and her involvement in the Society of Physics Students, Wiggins aspires to enhance scientific understanding and solve real-world problems. She envisions a career as a supply chain or process engineer working for an innovative company. Wiggins’ journey exemplifies the power of nurturing one's passion, embracing community, and shaping a future filled with potential.
For More Information Contact
Nat M. Esparza, Communications Officer II