Born and raised in Tafelsig, a former drug addict and high school dropout at the age of 16, Clint Higgins celebrated being capped, as he graduated with his Master’s degree in development finance, from Stellenbosch University.
Instead of having dinner and celebrating his academic achievement with his nearest and dearest, Mr Higgins, 33, who now lives in Grassy Park, with his wife Vaughanine, chose to celebrate this milestone, with his former neighbours on Wednesday December 16.
“I was a bright boy, super inquisitive and I had good grades,” he said.
He completed Grade 8 at Cape Town High School, which his mother, Vanessa Baker, formerly Higgins, could no longer afford.
He then moved to Cedar High School, in Rocklands, only to drop out in Grade 10.
“I was exposed to drugs. I did meth, smoked weed and some other stuff. My parents divorced and did not quite know how to process it,” he said.
At age 16 that same year, Mr Higgins was arrested and spent the weekend in Mitchell’s Plain police station cells.
His mother fetched him, but they never spoke about it.
“This was an eye-opener for me, what was becoming of my life, what was becoming of me. It did lots of self-rehabilitation, and the following year I approached high schools for enrolment. I literally begged the principal of Wynberg Secondary, to give me a chance, which I’m so grateful he did,” he said.
During the last few years of school he started weaning himself off drugs, and about a month before his final matric examination in 2006 he stopped taking drugs.
“I just said to myself, ‘I’m done. I’m not going to write this matric paper not of sober mind.’
“By that time, it was too late, but I narrowly passed with a conditional exemption.”
The following year, he went to work as a packer at Pick n Pay but knew he was destined for a more challenging profession.
“I remember that day,” he said.
“I was standing on a ladder and packing the top shelf. I could not deal with the fact that I have so much potential but I’m packing a shelf.”
That same day, he got a call about a careers expo at his alma mater.
“I took the opportunity. I went and met Translogic Business Solutions owners Shihaam Abrahams and her husband, Moutie.”
They offered him a salary of R3 500, which he took and proved himself in the information technology (IT) and accounting sector.
He left them to work for the Department of Health, where he started studying, and he now works for the City of Cape Town’s water and sanitation sector as a supply-chain specialist.
Since then, he has completed a business-development programme at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in 2012, a national diploma in management at CPUT in 2013, an international diploma in procurement and supply-chain management at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) in 2015 and an Honours degree in public management at Stellenbosch University in 2017.
During the national Covid-19 lockdown, he started a non-profit company, Each1teachone, which bridges the gap between high school and tertiary studies.
Mr Higgins said looking back he needed guidance and skills to channel his potential.
He now wants to share his experience and knowledge with Tafelsig youth and others to help them to know themselves and to instil a sense of self value, belief and community.