At the fourth annual Holmes Scholars Dissertation Symposium and Retreat held recently at the University of Central Florida, graduate students, faculty mentors, and university officials gathered to engage in scholarly conversations about the dissertation process as well as other timely topics such as grant writing, faculty mentoring of diverse students, postdoctoral career choices, the tenure and promotion process, and self-advocacy.
Four current Holmes Scholars attended the retreat to develop knowledge and skills and to network for their career. All four are pursuing a Ph.D. in education: Elizabeth Auguste (Curriculum Leadership), Edith Gonzalez (Counselor Education), Yi Hao (Higher Education Administration), and Victor Tuazon (Counselor Education).
The William & Mary School of Education was well-represented at the retreat; aside from the four doctoral students, two alumni also attended. Richelle Joe Ph.D. ’15, assistant professor of counselor education at the UCF College of Education and Human Performance, currently serves as a mentor to the Holmes Scholars. Kendra Cabler M.Ed. ’15 is now a Ph.D. student at Virginia Commonwealth University, and attended the dissertation retreat for her own professional development.
The Holmes Scholars Program, affiliated with the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE), supports high achieving students who are from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds pursuing doctoral degrees in education. Through mentorship, professional development opportunities, and peer relationships, the program aims to promote the diversity of the professional community and prepare educators to serve diverse learners.
The two-day retreat offered students the opportunity to share their research in collaboration with both peers and mentors. Each student-scholar was paired with a faculty mentor to discuss issues related to their research and career interests. Students were also encouraged to bring their doctoral work to review with their faculty mentor.
Throughout the retreat, the Holmes Scholars had access to faculty mentors, speakers, and other Ph.D. students from across the country, forming a national professional network. Invited faculty speakers covered a wide range of topics, including grant writing, publishing and manuscript writing, and advanced research methods; they offered a plethora of information to advance scholarship and career. On the second day of the retreat, students had a writing block of three hours to work on their dissertation, proposal, or manuscript, employing newly acquired information.
The four William & Mary Holmes Scholars found the retreat especially helpful and rejuvenating since all four scholars are planning to go into academia with careers as faculty and researchers. The content presented, the enthusiasm shared, and the network built is deeply appreciated. Many have reflected upon their own professional paths and experiences during the retreat and connected with peers and mentors by asking important questions regarding their future.