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Holmes Alumna: Program Offers ‘Life-Changing’ Experiences, Partnerships

Holmes Scholar alumna Bridget Steele

Participation in the AACTE Holmes Program produces tangible results for students through many local and nationwide channels of support. These benefits include not only success in completing a course of study but also mentoring and professional networks that extend well past graduation. The following testimonial from program alumna Bridget Steele, who graduated from the University of Central Florida 4 years ago, conveys how being a Holmes Scholar can shape a student’s experience through graduate school and beyond:

I recently came across some pictures I took while attending graduate school. Most of the pictures included times spent with fellow Holmes Scholars. Reflecting back on those times led me to write a letter to University of Central Florida Holmes Program Advisers Jennifer Platt and Carolyn Hopp, thanking them for the continued impact the program has had on my life.

I thanked them for the knowledge, encouragement, and lifetime friends I made through the Holmes Program. I also expressed appreciation for the mentors who navigated inside and outside academia offering perspectives I wouldn’t otherwise have acquired.

I have a doctorate degree in mathematics education, which is a very small community. Even smaller is the part of this community of people who look like me. As a Holmes Scholar, I met not only minorities, but minorities who were also getting a doctorate. This network led me to make friends not only outside of mathematics education, but also outside of my university. It also exposed me to mentors at all levels of the doctorate program. These connections have lasted beyond graduation, as we continue to help each other with career opportunities, presentations at national conferences, and international travel together. Even on a personal level, many of us became close enough to attend one another’s baby showers or to simply hang out, laughing and sometimes crying together.

To this day, the Holmes Program conferences were the most influential events I have ever attended. All of the workshops, presentations, field trips, and networking events were relevant to my life. I learned how to navigate through the doctorate and especially through the dissertation process. I also acquired knowledge of career opportunities inside and outside of academia. I always went away from a conference knowing that I was not alone, that I had others to confide in, and that I could do it. The extreme level of hope I had through the motivation and encouragement of fellow scholars, mentors, and advisers is priceless. Getting a doctorate is not a game, and had it not been for the Holmes Program, I would not have those three letters (Ph.D.) behind my name.

Steele and fellow Holmes participants at the University of Central Florida

Steele is in good company—many other Holmes participants have similar stories to tell, some of which can now be viewed in video format on the Holmes Program web page.

As AACTE continues to expand the successful Holmes Scholars doctoral program into the undergraduate, master’s, and high school levels, these students and alumni will play a key role in cultivating the same kinds of mentoring, engagement, and support environments that have benefited them.

For more information on how you can connect to the Holmes Program, contact me at odavis@aacte.org.

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Omar Davis

Manager of Member Engagement, AACTE