Sixteen educational leaders involved in the American Association of College for Teacher Education’s (AACTE) Holmes Scholars Program received valuable professional development support through a summer retreat and research symposium hosted last month by Rowan University’s College of Education.
Students involved in the program, which provides mentorship, peer support and professional development opportunities to doctoral students from traditionally underserved backgrounds who are pursuing careers in education, spent three days in Glassboro attending the Dissertation Retreat and Symposium.
Themed " “E Pluribus Unum: Democracy and Unity in Diversity,” the symposium was designed to support the research, academic, and professional development of Holmes scholars.
“The AACTE Holmes Scholars Program provides support for doctoral students from underrepresented groups interested in pursuing a career in education preparation, research or advocacy,” explains College of Education Dean Monika Williams Shealey, herself a Holmes Scholar and president of the National Association of Holmes Scholars Alumni. Rowan boasts 11 Holmes Scholars in the College of Education’s Ph.D. program.
"The Research Bootcamp and Symposium offered Holmes Scholars the opportunity to engage in professional development and networking with other scholars from various member institutions and faculty in higher education. We were honored to serve as the host of this year’s event,” adds Shealey.
Among the attendees was Cara Gafford, a Holmes Scholar and doctoral student from Bowie State University. This summer marked Gafford's third trip to a Holmes dissertation retreat. Each experience has been different due, in part, to the various phases of the dissertation process, she says.
While her first retreat helped her begin the early process of writing, this year’s retreat came at an opportune time as she is closer to completing her dissertation, which is focused on rural African-American students and their college choices.
The Holmes Scholars network is an extraordinary resource, Gafford says.
“I have a strong program. I have a strong mentor. This is just a different community of people. You learn a lot from your peers," she explains.
There’s a collaborative spirit among Holmes Scholars, adds Bowie State Education Professor Janeula Burt, one of the conference’s organizers and presenters.
“You are important. Your work is important. You are not here alone. Holmes is here for you,” Burt told the scholars who gathered at Rowan.
According to the AACTE, nearly 700 scholars nationally have benefitted from the Holmes Scholars Program since its inception in 1991.