James Higgins ’70

Submitted by Web Communications on November 15, 2011

 

Fairfield provided me a strong liberal arts education and opened me to so much of the world that I didn’t know about… I’m motivated to give back because I want Fairfield’s wellspring of education to achieve longevity, and I’ll do what I can to assist in the process.

James Higgins ’70

Writer

Major: English

Inspiring Influences

Forty-five years ago, I wrote a poem about Dr. Leo O’Connor’s inspiring influence on my life.

Both Leo O’Connor and Richard Regan exposed me to centuries of writing through stimulating lectures. I learned more about humanity through literature than I could ever have imagined. Knowledge, art, and beauty were at the forefront of my instruction. Both Regan and O’Connor offered enriching assignments and constructive criticism that shaped me both as a person and writer.

I didn’t know what I wanted to study at the University. Both of my parents had been to college and earned degrees to work in the health field, but I had inclinations to study the humanities. To the credit of my parents’ character, they allowed me to follow my own path.

Unique Career Path

I’m 62 years old and have had a great breadth of opportunity to do many different things in my life. Upon graduating from Fairfield with a degree in English literature, I was essentially untrained for the workplace; however, I feel that I was highly educated to communicate both orally and in writing and to behave as a well-rounded citizen.

As a result of my strong education in the humanities, I interviewed very well and was hired into the banking industry at the supervisory level. Soon after, I made a leap from banking into the rock ‘n roll business. Some fellow Fairfield alumni I knew formed a rock bank in 1969 called the “Repairs.” I joined their tour as the sound engineer and though I was without “sound man” experience, one of the “Repairs” members and I had sung in the Glee Club’s Bensonian’s Barber Shop Quartet while at Fairfield and he attested to my musical abilities.

During that time, I rediscovered my affinity for and love of great writing. I wrote songs, published poetry, and when the band broke up, I decided to find a job as a writer. Eventually, based again on my interview and writing skills attained while at Fairfield, I landed a job as a technical writer of banking instructional manuals. I was essentially a financial translator. Soon after a string of promotions, I found myself working in a brand new field at the time—business management. Within three years at a personal financial management firm for high-net-worth individuals, I rose through the ranks and was their senior account executive. After a few years, I started my own private trust company and continued in the industry for 20 years. In 1995, I left my company to write fiction full-time.

At that time I was married and had a family of eight children, so I decided to go to night school once a week at a local California school. I took fiction writing classes and published some poems and magazine articles, and have written a few novels. Currently, I’m working on writing a biography of Isabelle Palms Buckley, the founder of The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, Calif. Buckley predicated the school on discipline and self-expression and has an amazing life story that has never truly been told. My wife and I sent our children to The Buckley School and I have served as a trustee there and was chairman of the board for three consecutive years.

A Whole Education

I value the whole education at Fairfield over technical job training. I’ve counseled all of my kids and kids’ friends to avoid going to college to “get trained” in any way. The purpose of college is to become educated. There is no other time in life that you will have the opportunity to educate yourself. There’s plenty of time for training later in life. Education and training are very different. Fairfield provided me a strong liberal arts education and opened me to so much of the world that I didn’t know about. My Fairfield education has been so personally rewarding to me. I’m motivated to give back because I want Fairfield’s wellspring of education to achieve longevity, and I’ll do what I can to assist in the process.

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