Meet Kateka “Kay” Riggins, Administrative Specialist to the Director of Student Life & Engagement at the USFSP Student Life Center. Kay is an only child, and was born in Chicago, Illinois. She was the first to graduate from high school in her family on her paternal side. She started playing the flute as a dare in seventh grade as a way to stay out of trouble in the inner city. She excelled with her musical abilities beyond her dreams. She continued to play from middle school throughout high school, while earning first chair as a flutist and commanding the field as Drum Major her senior year. She earned a scholarship playing the flute as a “Marching Wildcat” at Bethune-Cookman College, now University, where she was encouraged to switch instruments during marching season to the alto saxophone. She mastered the sax after one month of band camp landing her a spot in the best band in the land.
Being the first in her family to obtain a high school diploma came with challenges from her parents to leave her hometown and move to Florida. She drove from Chicago to Daytona Beach by herself as a teen. Driving through the mountains of Tennessee was almost the end of her and her car. Back then looking at the triangles on the atlas meant mountains, however driving through them was quite scary. Once she arrived at the welcome center near the Florida State line she knew she had survived all of her obstacles from home. Proud, scared, and overwhelmed, she became overjoyed with the mere fact of driving to college by herself, but as she started to rejoice the FHP pulled up behind her asking her to get back in the vehicle. Once Kay told him about her journey, he smiled and sent her on her way with lots of well wishes and encouragement. Without emotional and financial support from her parents, she withdrew from BCC her junior year and later married her college sweetheart.
Kay moved to Jacksonville where she worked as a data entry operator for one month and then was promoted to Recruiter for Accu-Staff. Years later, she and her husband moved to his home town of St. Petersburg, to assist her in-laws with the family business, Riggins Funeral Home, but shortly after working there Kay realized that she wanted to work with the living. After taking time off, Kay had her first son and when he was one year old she returned to work. Kay was employed by the City of St. Petersburg as a Human Resources Assistant, later being promoted to Supervisor for almost nine years. During that time she decided to go back to school to earn her degree. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Barry University via St. Pete College UPC program in Professional Studies with a Specialization in Human Resources all while working full time, and being a wife and a mother of two sons. Determined to graduate she took eighteen credits her last semester while maintaining a 3.85 GPA. After leaving the City of St. Petersburg, Kay and her husband started their own business, Daddy’s House LLC 24 Hour Daycare, where she worked for several years before seeking a fulltime job with benefits. She then worked for Pinellas County Schools at an Alternative Charter High School as the Admissions Coordinator. After the school closed down, and her family closed the business, Kay wanted to work in higher education. She started at St. Pete College in the IT Department’s Helpdesk. Shortly after working there she received an opportunity to work at USFSP Student Affairs in Student Life & Engagement where she loves each and every one on her students.
Kay will have two freshmen in her own family in the fall. Her oldest son will attend and play football at the University of NorthWestern-St. Paul, and her youngest son will enter high school. She will also be celebrating her twenty years of marriage. Kay is truly a football mom, and she’s loved watching her boys play for the past twelve years. Football has been a part of her life since ninth grade and it doesn’t look like she is going to stop anytime soon. She has also had the opportunity to learn football IQ from Mr. Willie Taggart and staff at the USF Women’s Football Clinic. Her sons have played football with Team USA against Team Canada at the AT&T Stadium, FutureStars with IMG Team Florida, along with academic awards, camps and accolades including The Mayor’s Youth Showcase.
She has been a GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) in Pinellas County for several years representing the children in the Foster Care system in court where the goal is for reunification of parents and children. She’s a member of the NAACP Education Board and is a community liaison.
Kay enjoys camping (in a cabin of course), snorkeling, traveling to romantic destinations with her hubby, and watching sunsets each Sunday evening.
Kay is truly a people person always smiling and bringing joy to those around her.