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Leading the Way

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pittsburgh -- For as long as she can remember, Kristal Wiggins has loved helping people.

“I do not know at this point in my life what my career plans will be,” she says. “I just hope that it will be something that makes me happy and others happy as well.”

Wiggins, a senior management major, has been awarded the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA) Next Generation $4,500 stipend, created in part to encourage students of color to enter the nonprofit sector. Wiggins is the eighth RMU student to be chosen for this honor through a competitive national selection process; she is the university’s first student of color to receive the award. 

Formerly known as American Humanics, the NLA is a national professional development organization which offers theKristal2 Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) certification program. It prepares undergraduate and graduate students for entry-level professional positions in the nonprofit sector. 

All NLA students are required to complete a 300-hour internship at a nonprofit organization. Wiggins is currently meeting with various nonprofit leaders in her hometown of Baltimore so that she can select a site for this summer.  

Wiggins appreciates RMU’s close-knit family of students, faculty, and staff. “It was absolutely theright choice for me,” she says. “I wanted to become more independent and in control of my choices, and that's what I have done and what I continue to do. I wanted to experience what it would be like on my own, but in leaving one family, I gained another at RMU. From my peers that I interact with on a daily basis, all the way to the cashiers and cooks in the cafeteria…I made it my duty to know these people on another level, and it has benefited me greatly.” 

Throughout her time at Robert Morris, Wiggins has been an active member of the university community. She is a resident assistant and took part in a Study Abroad experience to Ireland in the summer of 2011. Receiving this award means that she has made her stamp here at RMU, Wiggins says.

“It means that if you continue to do the right thing and allow yourself to succeed, then anything is possible,” she says. “If you continue to give and give unselfishly, something is bound to come back to you. It is a confirmation to me that I made all the right moves in my college career. 

One of Wiggins's dreams is to serve in the Peace Corps. “I love traveling, experiencing different cultures and languages, and helping those in need. I just need the right outlet, and I'll be on my way to success. That said, I would like to work within the nonprofit sector and continue to do what I love and strive to do—give back.” 

Wiggins hopes, that by receiving this honor, she will inspire current and future students to want more for themselves. “I am a firm believer that troubles don't last and that, with an optimistic outlook and attitude, good will always follow you wherever you go.”

Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.