Photo courtesy La’Kitha Hughes
In her 15 years at Jackson State University, La'Kitha Hughes has learned that teamwork is a vital component to getting the job done, and she considers herself part of a larger team. The 43-year-old associate director of Jackson State University's Facilities and Construction Department doesn't mind climbing a roof to check a leak or walking the campus to pick up trash. She understands that the department is only as good as the members in it.
"I try to empower everyone," Hughes said. "All of our roles are important, no matter whether you cut the grass, clean the restroom or change a lightbulb. Everybody has an important role and we all are pieces of the puzzle that make it all work."
The Grenada native understands the importance of each cog in the wheel. She worked her way up through the department, beginning as a staff assistant in 2005 and holding various roles before obtaining her current position in 2018. She currently manages 46 employees—including painters, carpenters, electricians and grounds crews—and oversees the essential areas such as transportation, the warehouse, the customer care unit and university assets.
In May, Hughes was awarded the Southeastern Regional
Association of Physical Plant Administrators, or SRAPPA, scholarship. The endowment will cover the registration and travel costs to attend the second level of the Association of Physical Plant Administrators Leadership Academy. Hughes attended level one of the training in 2019 after receiving APPA's Women in Leadership scholarship. "I learned a lot about myself in that first level (of the academy)," Hughes said. "This (next) one will deal more with how you manage."
Hughes holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and a master's degree in technology from Mississippi State University. She is currently completing her doctorate in higher education leadership at Jackson State in addition to preparing for the Certified Educational Facilities Professional exam.
She serves on several university committees including the SACS Accreditation Task Force, President's Strategic Planning Team and the COVID Task Force. She is also an active member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and is currently a candidate for a national position with the organization.
Hughes believes that participating in the training will help her and her department better service the needs of the campus.
"I'm always thinking about trying to benefit what I call our community here. That's our faculty, staff and students. That's what it's all about. Making sure that we provide the best services for them," she said.