By Kasy Long
Oct 14, 2022
Sycamore Meka Wiggins wants to make a difference.
That is what motivates the senior psychology and pre-med student to dedicate her time and scholarship to the Indiana State University Honors College. Following graduation, Wiggins plans to become a physician assistant. She believes her Honors College experiences provide knowledge and insight to help her better serve patients and excel in her profession.
In fact, Wiggins credits her Honors courses for helping her discover a career path.
An immersive academic unit, Indiana State’s Honors College offers unique learning experiences. Students participate in smaller class sizes for individualized learning. Faculty mentors support students, and interdisciplinary courses feature exciting topics and projects on world events, culture, and history, as well as experiential learning opportunities.
Throughout their academic studies, students apply themselves through innovative research, projects, internships, field trips, study-abroad experiences, and other programs to prepare for professional development and career success.
“I love my classes and the devotion my professors put into each of the topics discussed,” Wiggins commented.
For Wiggins, her classes within the Honors College helped her discover a passion for race, culture, and health. This led to her decision to become a physician assistant.
“It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I really understood what I wanted to do in life,” she shared. Her Honors courses assisted with this personal discovery.
These included a course on Black masculinity taught by Dr. Adeyemi Doss, assistant professor of sociology. The class examined the various ways Black masculinity has been interpreted and misinterpreted through historical and contemporary cultures.
“The class helped me understand aspects of a Black man, like my father, in a profound perspective,” Wiggins commented.
This enriched perspective will play a significant role in her future career goals. Wiggins wants to learn more about healthcare practices through the lenses of African American patients.
While completing a course on medical terminology, Wiggins was drawn to the study of preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication involving high blood pressure, high levels of protein in the urine, kidney dysfunction, and other signs of organ damage. Left untreated, the condition could be fatal for the mother and baby.
Wiggins created an infographic about the pregnancy complication, focusing on how the condition is most severe in African American pregnancies. The preeclampsia rate is 60 percent higher among African American women than for women of other races.
“I wanted to learn more about it [preeclampsia] since it runs in African American women more so than any other ethnic or racial group,” she said.
The Honors College research topic aligned with Wiggins’ future career plans of working as a physician assistant inside an obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) office, as well as someday being a mother. Wiggins considered how she could help improve the conditions for African American women just like herself.
Throughout her Honors studies, Wiggins realized she could be a game changer, an innovative learner, and a leader. The senior will complete an Honors thesis project on psychological health that she plans to use for future research in graduate school and her career.
“Indiana State is a school where, if you seek out one opportunity, the rest will follow. It’s a place that gives you a chance to learn and grow,” she described.
Wiggins knows about opportunities. When she’s not studying, she devotes time to various campus organizations and service projects, including the Pre-Physician Association, Mentoring Assistance for Prospective Scholars (MAPS), National Society of Leadership and Success, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. She also volunteers in the Terre Haute community, delivering food boxes for low-income families through Manna from Seven, and she volunteers at Indiana State’s Community Garden.
“Volunteering has been a rewarding experience in terms of getting to know the people and lending an extra hand during hard times,” Wiggins said.
Now, Wiggins encourages other students to join Indiana State’s Honors College. During her past experience as a campus tour guide, she happily shared the opportunities waiting for future Sycamores, including the community within the Honors College.
“Just do it! Please don’t let the word ‘Honors’ frighten you—because there is nothing scary or intimidating about the Honors College,” Wiggins insisted.
Wiggins has always wanted to make a difference, and now she can. Because of her education in Indiana State’s Honors College, she has the research, tools, and supportive faculty and peers to cheer her to success. Because successful learning begins with BLUE!