It’s Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate their global impact and stellar leadership. Zelia Z. Wiley, Ph.D., interim associate provost at Kansas State University, is one such leader to celebrate. She became the first multicultural assistant dean for diversity at the university in 2003. A graduate of Prairie View A&M and Pennsylvania State University, Wiley has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agriculture economics and engineering, along with a Ph.D., from Pennsylvania State University in agricultural and extensive education. She is also a proud lifetime member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
Below, she shares three fundamental seeds that every woman should sow in order to reap success:
Appreciate the past as an asset to plow forward for the future. Her passion for agriculture is derived from a family history rooted in agriculture and driven by diffusing negative connotations and myths that minorities correlate to the industry: slavery, cumbersome crops, and laboriously rearing livestock just to name a few.
She says her father shared stories about her great-grandfather, who in 1907 purchased the land where many of her ancestors served as slaves for as little as $3 an acre.
It has become an indirect mission of Wiley’s to show our community there is so much more for African American professionals and entrepreneurs in the world of agriculture—from science to business to technology. “Truly, we are the foundation of agriculture because we have the roots for agriculture,” says Wiley.
Have awareness and appreciation for personal uniqueness—in yourself and in others. Wiley stresses the importance of equality and inclusion on all college and university campuses, saying, “We should be able to make all environments inclusive for students to thrive.” Over the years, she has been surrounded and supported by her diverse networks of natural and sorority families. She has learned to understand and appreciate history, viewing it as something you can learn from but also change.
Pay homage to the power of giving back. “If we want to truly get ahead, we must never neglect to look back; to help the generation behind us know where we’ve come from so that they know where they are going.” Wiley is a passionate advocate for HBCUs—and higher education in general—and, of course, the modern support of the growth of multicultural participation in the field of agriculture.
Marquita Miller is the founder and CEO of Five Star Tax and Business Solutions – a full service accounting firm in Kansas City, Missouri. A small business expert contributor on CBS & FOX morning shows, Miller is a published author, business strategist, motivational speaker and well known advocate for entrepreneurship. A recipient of Kansas City’s Influential Woman and Woman Who Means Business award, Miller is also a conference speaker and workshop facilitator for TD Jakes Ministries. www.marquitamiller.com. Twitter:@MarquitaMMiller www.facebook.com/MarquitaMMiller