A native of Memphis, Tennessee, she earned a B.S from Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, AL. After completing a master's degree at Duke University, she earned a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University.
Zakiya attended Piney Woods from 1992-1995. Zakiya learned about Piney Woods from her mother. Her mother was looking for a boarding school for one of her cousins to attend. Impressed by Piney Woods’s history and programs, Zakiya’s mother enrolled her in summer camp. Despite early reservations, Zakiya attended summer camp. Based on her enjoyable experiences at summer camp, she decided to attend the school.
Piney Woods has changed Zakiya’s life in so many ways. She thrived in the nurturing and loving environment at Piney Woods. At Piney Woods, she learned how to celebrate other people’s successes as well as her own. That life lesson has made a difference for her.
In addition, Zakiya learned about the power of discipline and consistency. It was frustrating at the time to have to operate in such a structured environment where it seemed like there were a LOT of rules and restrictions. However, those 3 years of discipline and consistency have been monumental in her adult life.
Now, Zakiya is a professor at North Carolina State University in the College of Natural Resources. In addition to these duties, she has a lab of six graduate students and conducts research related to forest and soil ecology. Her research has focused primarily on enhancing the productivity and sustainability of loblolly pine, one of the most common species planted in the southeastern US. Her work continues to help ensure that plantations are managed without compromising the long-term viability of the land.
Zakiya shares her expertise as a mentor in various career development programs designed to increase the number of minority and female students in the field of ecology. As an invited speaker at schools, national conferences and universities, she shares her passion for environmental education and stewardship. Zakiya is committed to encouraging diverse student populations—whether at the primary and secondary or graduate level—to pursue their educational goals.