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### Discovering Mentorship in the Communications Department with Knya Holmes

Knya Holmes, a student from the class of 2024, underwent a profound transformation, turning “pain into purpose” with the support of the faculty and staff at Shippensburg University.

Commencing her academic journey at Shippensburg University in 2019 through the Academic Success Program, Holmes faced a significant challenge when her parents could no longer sustain her financially. Dr. Felicia Shearer, the Executive Director of Retention and Student Success and one of Holmes’ professors at the time, played a pivotal role in connecting her with the financial aid department.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Holmes had to adapt to fully online classes, which posed a considerable challenge for her. Balancing responsibilities such as assisting her grandmother with bills and managing her coursework proved to be demanding. This led to Holmes failing nine classes during the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters. Tragically, she also experienced the loss of her sister, her sister’s boyfriend, and their unborn child in a car accident on October 24, 2020. Despite these hardships, Holmes found resilience in the fall semester of 2021, which she aptly termed her “redemption semester,” where she channeled her pain into a driving force for her academic pursuits.

Holmes assumed the role of a peer anchor in memory of her sister, aiming to assist first-year students in their college transition and adjustment. Additionally, she embarked on an internship with the First-Year Experience, overseeing a group of five to six first-year students and guiding them towards campus resources to enhance their academic performance.

Dr. Shearer highlighted Holmes’ invaluable contribution in sharing her experiences and emphasizing the significance of education to students. Under Dr. Shearer’s mentorship, Holmes decided to pursue a major in human communications.

As Holmes looks ahead to her post-graduation plans in May **, she remains engaged in exploring various graduate programs, expressing a desire to continue her education at Shippensburg University. Actively involved in the Frederick Douglass Institute on campus, Holmes has already made significant contributions by speaking at events like the DEI Summit and Minds at Work conference.

Driven by a passion to advocate for black women’s empowerment and inclusivity, Holmes aspires to create opportunities for underrepresented individuals to have a voice and presence in all spaces. She credits Dr. Melissa McNelis, who taught her favorite class, Survey of Communications, and served as her advisor, for guiding her through career exploration. Additionally, Holmes acknowledges Dr. Sharnine Herbert as a mentor who played a crucial role in her academic journey, motivating her to strive for excellence and pursue her goals.

For Holmes, these mentors represent more than academic guides; they are like surrogate mothers, offering unwavering support and encouragement. Dr. Herbert commends Holmes for her accountability and self-drive, foreseeing a bright future for her in the field of education.

Holmes’ story is a testament to resilience, determination, and the unwavering support of mentors who have shaped her academic path and personal growth.