St. Clair County Community College not only provided Lisa Higgins with a place to grow personally and academically, it was also the place she started her career in education.
Higgins, a counselor at St. Clair High School and resident of St. Clair, came to SC4 in 1985 because she was undecided and wanted to save money while she explored various classes.
“I started out my first semester taking a business class because I thought I might have an interest in business, and an ED 101 course because I had an interest in teaching,” she said. “After the first semester I found my real interests were in the area of education. I had to have so many hours experience working with school-aged kids as part of the class, and it was through that experience that made me want to pursue education.”
Higgins played for the women’s basketball team at SC4, and was on the forensics and debate team, led by Jim Voss.
“I remember it really helped me learn how to manage my time and I remember it being a great experience,” she said. “I was able to travel around the state with the (basketball) team and build friendships with people I may not have gotten to know otherwise.”
After Higgins graduated in 1987 with her associate of arts, she attended Central Michigan University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in education, majoring in English and minoring in speech and dramatic arts.
While back at SC4 requesting her transcripts, Higgins ran into Voss.
“I shared with him that I was graduating and he said there actually happened to be a position open for a part-time speech instructor at an off-campus program, the Sanilac Career Center,” she said. “So my very first teaching job was actually through SC4.”
The course was a college class taught to high school students and Higgins said it was a great experience and felt it was the résumé boost she needed to help her get a job in the East China School District.
She taught one year at Marine City Middle School and then transferred to St. Clair High School where she worked for four years teaching English and Public Speaking. She earned a Master’s degree in counseling at Wayne State University, and has been a counselor at the high school for 21 years.
In her current position Higgins is able to work individually with students and help them plan for college.
“From where I sit now in my job as a counselor – where I learn about community colleges and four-year universities across the state, and the pros and cons for each of them – I feel like SC4 is a gem we have in our community,” she said. “It reminds me of a private college because of its size, and even the physical layout of the school and also the class sizes and connections you can make. It might not be for all students but for some coming out of high school who aren’t ready for the big jump to a big university, and not just academically but emotionally, SC4 is a nice little landing spot.”
Higgins said her son is following in her footsteps and also attends SC4 where he is involved in the theater program.
“He is a lot like mom and wasn’t sure what direction he wanted to go in career wise,” she said. “He is taking some time to explore different classes without spending a whole lot of money.”
Her advice to students?
“I think students tend to just drop in for a class and leave and they don’t really take time to make connections with instructors and meet other students,” Higgins said. “You just never know how the connections you make there could benefit you later on. The experience I got with the forensics team and getting to know Mr. Voss helped me get that initial job that got me started in my career in education.”