AACTE Welcomes New Holmes Scholars

AACTE continues to expand the Holmes Program to provide relevant mentorship, support, and professional development to graduate students of color pursuing a degree in education. Holmes scholars represent the next generation of diverse faculty and leaders who will advance the field and address the equity and opportunity gaps in our nation’s educational system. We are thrilled to welcome five new scholars from Texas Christian University (TCU) and Austin Peay State University: Leslie Ekpe, Cara Jones, DeAndrew Rainey, Ebony Love, and Ariela Martinez.

Leslie EkpeLeslie Ekpe is currently pursuing an Ph.D. at TCU in higher educational leadership. Ekpe is an alumna of Alabama A&M University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in management, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she obtained her Master of Science in Communication Management. She also holds an MBA from Sam Houston State University. Ekpe is a former Professional Communications teacher for Uplift Education Public Charter School Network. Her research seeks to promote access for marginalized students in education, with a specific focus on Black women in leadership, college access policies, student activism in the digital age, racial politics in education, and fairness within intercollegiate athletics.

Cara JonesCara Jones is a second-year Ph.D. student at TCU where she is pursuing her degree in educational leadership. Her research focuses on racial identity development and Critical Race Theory and data use in schools. She is particularly interested in how biracial students develop their racial identity in school and critical quantitative studies. Jones is an experienced educator having served in a variety of capacities, including as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, and curriculum specialist. She is also an adjunct professor at the TCU College of Education. Jones holds a master’s in Educational Leadership from TCU and a bachelor’s in Applied Learning and Development from the University of Texas at Austin.

DeAndrew Rainey pursuing an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at Austin Peay State University. He began his career as a truancy officer with the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and later served as a school counselor within the same district. Rainey is an alumni of Fisk University, where he obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology. He was a track and field athlete at Fisk and was named All-American Sprinter by the USCAA. He also studied school counseling and guidance at Tennessee State University. His line of research focuses on social and emotional learning and supporting at-risk students in non-traditional school settings.

Ebony LoveEbony Love is a scholar in the Ph.D. educational leadership program at TCU. Love is a former assistant principal and educator. She is an alumna of the University of Alabama where she obtained her master’s in chemistry. She also earned her master’s in educational leadership from TCU. Her research interests are examining how politics impact decision-making in education policy and empowerment of individual districts. Outside of academia, she enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephews, reading, and watching college football. Her mission as an educational leader is to create growth-centered environments in which individuals are empowered to innovate in order to cultivate success in all students as learners and individuals.


Ariela Martinez is an experienced college access and higher education professional who has served students from diverse academic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds at the high school and collegiate level. Martinez earned bachelor and master’s degrees from TCU where she is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Higher Educational Leadership. She holds steadfast to the belief that she should seize every opportunity to learn how to better lead and serve. As a devoted advocate of college access and higher education for underprivileged students, Martinez has a passion and desire to uplift her community. Despite the challenges and adversities she encountered as a first-generation college student and Hispanic woman at a predominately white, and high-SES institution, she hopes to educate, empower, and inspire other minority students on their college journey. 


Interested in starting a Holmes Program at your institution, or serving as a faculty mentor to Holmes students? Contact me at wjames@aacte.org.


Weade James

Vice President, Organizational Advancement