Bejai Higgins

Bejai Higgins

I teach them social interactive skills from a psychological perspective to help them understand people. Bejai Higgins , Adjunct Faculty, General Education , The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to teach?

I teach psychology and I am a full-time psycho-social oncologist and have been in the profession for 25 years. Teaching is my third career. My practice as a therapist is emotionally draining and I figured I would balance the two by teaching, which is emotionally fulfilling. 

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran’s sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

I present vignettes of highly altered patient situations to preserve patient confidentiality as examples to demonstrate the psychological principles. 

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

When I teach attribution theory, I select a student at random, with a strong sense of self, and give them a cue. Upon this receiving this cue, they are to get up from their desk, walk up to the whiteboard, write a expletive, and exit from the classroom without saying a word. After, I ask the rest of the class to tell me their impressions of that person. They usually will describe them in a negative light and will start telling other tales that reflect negatively on the student's character. I let them know that they are making attributions about the student and review the theory with them. Then I  ask them how it would change if I told them that I was the one who told him to write on the board. After, they usually see the student in a positive light. After this exercise, they have a firm memory of attribution theory. 
What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

The students I face are not going to become psychologists; they are going to become creative professionals. I teach them social interactive skills from a psychological perspective to help them understand people. 

In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the
most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

I teach them to modify their locus of control, which means, the degree to which you attribute your outcomes to your actions. If you have an external locus of control, you blame everything that happens to you on the world. If you have an internal locus of control, you blame yourself for everything. The goal is to have a balance and be able to accept criticism from others without destroying your sense of self. If they can learn where they are on the scale and move toward the center, they will be more powerful, in control and focused.  

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

Teaching is critical to maintaining my private practice. Without the fresh, open faces of the students and their excitement to learn, I would not be able to work with the terminally ill on a daily basis.