Over 1,000 Strong and Growing: A look at AACTE’s Holmes Scholar Program
Did you know that over 1,000 traditionally underrepresented doctoral students have benefitted from the AACTE Holmes Scholars Program? Through networking, collaboration, mentoring, leadership opportunities, and research activities, the program provides high-achieving minority students with rich professional development. In fact, you probably know a former scholar, as many are now in tenured faculty and leadership positions at institutions across the United States.
Educator preparation programs (EPPs) are keenly focused on developing strategies to advance the field of education, close the equity gap, and make a more diverse teacher workforce a reality, and the Holmes Scholar Program is an essential component to achieving those goals. To promote diversity of the education profession and to prepare educators who can serve diverse learners, the program provides EEPs with the opportunity to attract students from historically underrepresented communities, increase the retention and graduation rates of doctoral students of color, and strengthen the institution’s role as a leader in supporting diversity.
At the University of Central Florida (UCF), Holmes Scholars are supported by the College of Community Innovation and Education. Our group of scholars represent a multiplicity of academic specialties and bring a variety of topics to the center of discussions—while looking at them through a social justice lens. The program has its own energy and provides a platform through which our scholars’ academic strengths, commitment to social justice, and dedication to community engagement are illuminated. The group of scholars holds each other to high expectations regarding their conduct and the amount of time they spend on their academics. They also keep each other on task and are focused on fulfilling their duties and responsibilities.
Mentoring plays a central role in our program, providing students with the opportunity to connect, network, collaborate, and learn from other scholars, faculty, administration, and Holmes Scholar alumni. Collaboration with other academicians allows our Holmes Scholars to build their knowledge base and contribute to the development of innovative educational practices. At UCF, we have converted office space into a lounge where Homes Scholars can meet for moral support and build a positive rapport with their peers. They collaborate on activities such as writing professional articles, research opportunities, leadership development, community engagement and service projects, and policy issues. For further engagement, we hold monthly meetings for an exchange of ideas, discussions of concerns and other matters of importance, and to recognize our scholars’ extraordinary achievements. For example, at a monthly meeting prior to the pandemic, we celebrated an article cowritten by several of our scholars that was published in the National Journal.
We encourage our Holmes Scholars to actively engage in research, publishing, and presenting at professional conferences. Our scholars present their research at the AACTE Annual Meeting, as well as participate in the AACTE Holmes Scholars Summer Policy Institute and the AACTE Day on the Hill. Additionally, UCF holds an annual Holmes conference at the college with an invited guest speaker. The scholars’ ability to collaborate across topics and create a conference that brings people together is a great learning experience.
The Holmes Scholars Program provides numerous, rich benefits that deepen scholars’ educative experience. I strongly encourage AACTE member institutions to consider implementing the program at their institutions. Participation in the program is open to all AACTE member institutions, and AACTE charges no additional fee to enroll. Sponsoring institutions are responsible for supporting their Holmes students according to the participation requirements.
Pamela “Sissi” Carroll is dean, College of Community Innovation & Education, University of Central Florida.