Student Profile: Meet James Higgs

James Higgs.

Not everyone’s college story follows the same path. Take James Higgs for example. The current RCTC student is finishing up a degree in business management and marketing. It makes sense: James has a popular Instagram account where he helps to essentially market the place he works for, Forager Brewing Co. – he even brewed a beer called James and the Giant Peach there – and wants to ultimately own a bar or brewery. 

But more than anything, Higgs is an example of a student just trying to find the right fit in life. When he first attended RCTC, he was seeking wealth via an accounting job. 

“I started accounting out of high school; I wanted to be an accountant,” Higgs says matter-of-factly. “That way I could be rich. 

Out of high school you just want to get rich as fast as possible, with the best ways possible, the easiest ways possible.” 

He pursued accounting for a year. At the time he was working at Outback Steakhouse when he had an epiphany.

“I’m like, ‘James, you knew that wasn’t for you from the first credit you took,’” Higgs recalls. 

He moved on to mass communications, which makes sense too considering how social Higgs is. He took some classes before taking time off, but sadly, the program was suspended (it’s now back in a new, modern form), and Higgs was unsure of what would be next. 

Higgs says that’s when he sat down and really thought about what he wanted to do. RCTC had always felt like the right fit for him, so he wasn’t going anywhere. 

“I’ve always liked RCTC. Just a sense of what it is. A community. There are people from all over the place that come here. I’ve always appreciated RCTC for what it is. Collegiate credits at the fraction of the cost in my backyard. I can live my life. I’ve always liked it that way.”

Feeling at ease, and working in Rochester’s bustling brewery scene, he found a program that was a good fit for him: business management and marketing.

Higgs began that program in fall of 2017 while continuing to work in the brewery and restaurant scene. 

“I was in the figuring out stage,” Higgs said. “I took a marketing class trying to complete the mass communication degree and I liked it. My personality suits that.” 

He doesn’t want to go to work to just collect a paycheck but wants to really like his job. 

“That’s why it was easier to start business management and marketing, because it was something I enjoyed doing, versus, ‘this sounds like another accounting adventure,’” Higgs says. “The teachers – and this dates back to kindergarten – the teachers make the class.” 

One instructor, in his eyes, stands out: Paula Theisen. 

“She’s a big help. She’s got a good, bubbly personality – like vibrant,” Higgs explains. “It just rubs off on the kids. At the start of class, she has everybody up stretching. It makes you want to come to class. She’s good with getting people engaged.” 

With instructors like Theisen, Higgs has enjoyed school, often using his work experience in class. 

Higgs has been in the restaurant business as everything from a line cook, server, bartender, brewer, manager, and hosting. 

“It makes assignments that much easier,” Higgs says. “If a teacher asks a question about the workplace…that just happened last night. I can actually talk about this. She asks for one or two pages, I could give you four.” 

The future is up in the air at this point when it comes to more education for Higgs. He is certain of what he wants to do professionally. 

“I’ve always wanted to open something, be a businessman of something.”

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