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My Student Experience: Holmes Scholars Program Creates Opportunities for Mentorship, Collaboration

This article was originally published by NC State University College of Education News.

When Amelia Rivera learned NC State’s College of Education was launching a chapter of the American Association of College and Teacher Education’s Holmes Scholars Program, she jumped at the opportunity to join. 

“Once we got in the first meeting, I was like, ‘OK, I’m sold,’” said Rivera, who is pursuing her Ph.D. in the Teacher Education and Learning Sciences educational equity concentration. “This is where I’m supposed to be.”

The Holmes Scholars Program recruits, prepares and sustains scholar-leader students who reflect and understand the implications of diverse perspectives in the nation’s learning communities. Students in the program receive mentorship, peer support and professional development opportunities.

“To have people that look like us, who are on the ground and have been in the field for a while, to have these conversations gives you some insight and prepares you for things to come,” Rivera said. 

As part of being a Holmes Scholar, students have opportunities to attend the Holmes Scholars Preconference, which takes place prior to the annual American Association of College and Teacher Education Meeting. For Rivera, attending the conference in February provided a unique opportunity to network with professors, deans and other scholars from across the country. 

“That was super powerful,” Rivera said. 

While in attendance, Rivera also ran and was elected vice president of the Holmes Council. In the role, she will help with planning, communication and building community. She is also working on a scholars-of-the-month series and assisting with the monthly Holmes Scholars newsletter.

“For me, it’s all about community,” Rivera said. “I thrive in community. When I’m in community, I feel safe … and I know that as a person of color, as a black woman, as a black person, these things are important; creating spaces and community. “

Michael Hoyes ’23PHD joined NC State’s Holmes Scholars even though he knew he was about to graduate. During his time earning his Ph.D. in the Learning and Teaching in STEM mathematics and statistics education concentration, he benefited from doctoral students who served as mentors and hoped to fulfill the same role in the Holmes Scholars. 

“It’s a chance to give back to those coming up after me, to [create] the critical peer network that it is necessary to make sure that we succeed and we pull each other along,” Hoyes said.

Not only was Hoyes able to serve as a resource, but he ended up connecting with fellow Holmes Scholar Charlese Harris, a doctoral student in the Learning and Teaching in STEM mathematics and statistics education concentration. Hoyes and Harris are now working on a number of proposals together. 

“Being a Holmes Scholar has been beneficial for the fact that it has established a community that was not really being cultivated,” Hoyes said. “It’s been a blessing to have a chance to be a part of that community since its inception.”

The Holmes Scholars Program at NC State is still in its early stages, but Rivera is looking forward to seeing it take advantage of opportunities for growth and innovation. 

“We will be the people that are riding with one another, we will be the people who will be engaging in thought processes and problem solving of things in the educational field moving forward,” Rivera said.