Morning News Anchor Kimberly Holmes Wiggins Draws upon Her Own Past to Inspire Ashford Journalism Students
Ashford University Journalism Professor Kimberly Holmes Wiggins knows what it’s like to push through hard times and start over. Today, she’s an on-camera news anchor in Salisbury, Md., but when she started her undergraduate degree at Duke University she had aspirations of being a pediatric dentist. After the first year, an overwhelming urge to tell stories—not clean baby teeth—led to a change of heart.
“I grew up overseas, and I’ve always been the person who liked to tell stories about that,” Wiggins says. “How do you make a living out of doing that? By becoming a journalist. I switched gears. I haven’t looked back since.”
Entering the field didn’t come easy, though. Based in Washington, D.C., after graduation, she dabbled in PR and politics before heading back to grad school for Journalism—this time at Columbia.
“My parents pushed education: ‘If you don’t know what to do, go back to school,’” she says. “I got into Columbia. I learned a lot, I grew a lot. Like so many experiences I’ve gone through, though, it was really difficult. But if you want to do it you have to keep trying.”
She persevered and landed a job as a producer in Miami, but she found the pressure of writing for seasoned journalists on deadline to be even harder than school.
“I almost actually left the job, left the business,” she says. “I was talking to a mentor, and she reminded me this is what I’d been working toward for years and to dig in and push through.”
She asked to review scripts of the more experienced writers and asked for feedback from station managers. Although Wiggins says they were “annoyed” at first, she went from being the worst writer on staff to the best, and from working the overnight shift to the evening.
“After a few more months, I decided I really did want to work in front of the camera,” she says. “I worked on my demo. I got a job a few months later, going to Cincinnati and then on to Orlando.”
But then her husband passed away unexpectedly, a personal tragedy that would reshape her career and eventually influence her teaching. She quit her job and moved to be near her family.
She had been out of the business for a few years when her old boss from her first station in Maryland asked her to come back and go for an open morning anchor spot. It was around the same time that she came to teach journalism at Ashford, including courses like Global Journalism and Visual Journalism.
She says the learners at Ashford—and their particular challenges—have resonated with her, and she brings a personal approach to her teaching.
“Sometimes in my classes, you have a lot of adult learners and there’s a lot going on in their lives,” says Wiggins. “I have an open door policy. You have to learn to ask for help. It was a tough lesson I had to learn personally.”
Now rebuilding her life outside of D.C. with her family close by, she has some advice for anyone starting over or even thinking about starting over.
"You’re stronger than you think you are. You can achieve anything you want. You’ve just got to put the work in.”
Written by Ashford University staff