Kori HiggsBack to Excellence
The first time Kori Higgs attended college things didn’t turn out that great. By her own admission, it was probably her fault.
“When I went to college the first time I didn’t know what I was doing. It was the first time I had really been on my own and I didn’t do very well. I wasn’t focused,” she said. “I did it because it was the thing you are supposed to do after high school, but it wasn’t something that I felt strongly that I needed to do for myself.”
Not having a definite plan or selected field of study she was specifically interested in, Higgs decided to gain some life experience and pinpoint the areas that she was truly passionate. Living life beyond the controlled environment of college became her lab of experimentation. She volunteered with AmeriCorps in California and did community organization work in New Orleans. Ultimately she discovered her true passions and it became crystal clear of what she had to do.
“I got to live life a little and experience what it’s like to figure out and pursue my passions,” she said. “Once I got a sense of what I really wanted to be working on I realized that I needed more education to be able to really do it in the way that I wanted to do it. So when I went back (to college) the second time it wasn’t just because it was the thing to do. I did it to be able to pursue what I wanted to do with my life.”
Higgs is extremely focused now. Having gone back to school at the age of 26 and completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biological engineering, the second year, energy and environmental systems Ph.D. student has tunnel vision and is mapping out a pathway to her future. She’s always loved and been drawn to causes promoting the environment, nature and animals. That hasn’t changed and she hasn’t forgotten about her passions and dreams, rather her studies have given life to what would have otherwise died without proper education.
“I have a natural aptitude for math and science and I’m passionate about social justice issues and community building. So what I want to do is put it all together,” she said. “Greensboro has a lot of food deserts, food insecurity issues, and environmental and climate justice issues. I’m looking at how using urban agriculture in a sustainable way can help alleviate those issues as well as a way of building community cohesion and empowerment around people to be able to sustain themselves as these issues shift and change.”
“I have this academic access, so I can use it to do the scientific work, but also look at how that science can rally community members to build the futures they want for themselves.”
As it stands, Higgs hasn’t gotten to the practical work of her doctoral research; she’s fully immersed in the initial reading and writing aspect, but she envisions the day when she is actually connecting with different community groups and training community members to develop sustainable resource practices so they can in turn offer services and assistance to other people. Although she was raised in Mississippi, Higgs has established her roots in the area and thinks North Carolina is the place where she can make a great impact and empower people through a hub for education and entrepreneurship.