Blogs

Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Higgins

TFA, K through 12, that’s me! I graduated from The First Academy in 2004 and studied Psychology at Mercer University (Go Bears!). I entered college with a pre-med focus but fell in love with the subject of Psychology and instead decided to pursue a Marriage and Family Therapy degree following my undergraduate work. In a second major shift, however, I found myself studying Cross-Cultural Studies – and not psychology – for my Master’s degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

My time at Fuller was transforming for me. It changed how I saw the world and the impact for good I could make in my own life. One of my favorite memories came from joining an interfaith organization committed to social justice issues throughout Los Angeles County. Following my time at Fuller, I moved back to the east coast, but to Washington, DC, where I spent a year in the Sojourners Fellows yearlong internship, integrating my faith and social justice.

I moved back to Orlando in 2012 without any plans of staying but (again – this is a theme) instead found myself at a name-your-price coffee shop named Downtown CREDO. Over time I learned the mission behind the organization: inspiring people to a life of meaning, impact, and community – and how naming my price at a small local level could make an impact into the larger global coffee market. This act was the first of many small steps toward a growing desire to make an impact in Orlando. I remained in Orlando and managed the College Park location of CREDO for two years and later moved into the community impact projects of the organization, including organizing an annual bike rally and parade through a few Orlando neighborhoods. The theme of that parade was “Orlando Together,” and in 2017 we took that title and expanded the work to its own nonprofit fully dedicated to undermining racial divisions through place-based diversity training sessions. Today I am the Executive Director of Orlando Together, creating opportunities to invite people into honest conversations and exploring issues of race that have shaped the development of our city.

In hindsight, the journey looks like a straight line from one point to the next, but it has been just the opposite: it has been a wild adventure full of doubts and victories and false starts and excitement. The network of friends-who-have-become-family that was formed years ago at TFA often shows up today, and I am constantly grateful for their support, encouragement. Childhood friends are now enrolling their children at The First Academy, and I know and experience the blessing of lifelong relationships that began for me at TFA.

Lately, I still enjoy coffee and can often be found at a Downtown CREDO location, or on some local adventure with my family!