As Alumni Weekend 2013 approaches, we’re profiling members of this year’s reunion classes — read on to learn more about a dynamic ’08 grad!
Meet Shannon Holmes, CCAS BA ‘08
By Kelly Leon, CCAS BA ‘08, 5-year Reunion Committee Member
In the five years since receiving her BA in American studies, Shannon Holmes has visited more than ten countries, served as a secondary educator in three different cities and earned an advanced degree.
Soon after completing her studies at GW, Holmes began teaching 7th grade social studies and summer reading enrichment at a public charter school in northwest, DC.
While at GW, Holmes studied secondary education at Howard University, through the Washington, DC Consortium of Universities partnership. This academic concentration, combined with her primary focus in American studies prepared her for teaching history to young people.
“Both helped me convey to my students how important studying history is to understanding and relating to the world around them,” says Holmes.
After two years of teaching, Holmes moved to Philadelphia, PA to pursue a master’s of science in education (reading, writing and literacy) at the University of Pennsylvania, which she completed in just one year.
After obtaining her degree, Shannon joined the teaching staff at an American international school in Abu Dhabi, UAE, where she taught 6th and 7th grade literature and humanities for two years. “I didn’t study abroad when I was at GW, so spending time in another country was important to me,” she explains.
In her down time, Holmes explored and enjoyed the cultural richness of the city and traveled to over ten countries including Nepal, Uganda and Tanzania.
Earlier this year, Holmes moved back to the US, and took a position at KIPP: Vision Academy in Atlanta, GA, where serves as a reading foundations teacher and student support team coordinator.
Holmes’s experience at GW, both in and outside of the classroom, was excellent preparation for living and working abroad.
“While at GW, I was exposed to people from so many different cultures with different perspectives,” she remembers.
Several administrators, including Helen Cannday Saulny and Bernard Demczuk served as influential mentors and role models. Their examples as engaged community members encouraged Shannon to be aware and involved in the communities in which she has lived.
Additionally, “GW’s focus on community service led me to pursue a career in service to others,” says Holmes. As an educator, she serves her students every day.
In her travels around the country, and around the world, Holmes has been pleased with the recognition she’s received as a GW alumna.
“Everywhere I go, people see GW as a great academic institution. It’s been a conversation-starter. GW just stands out.”
Looking back at her time on campus, Holmes describes her experience as a resident in the George Washington Williams house as the most memorable. Residents of the Williams House, a living and learning community, devote their time to planning events that bring African American history and culture to GW’s campus.
“I loved living and planning events with friends, and being in a place with a real open-door community policy,” she says. “We had lively discussions about so many topics and a few good parties too!”
Holmes looks forward to reconnecting with fellow classmates at this year’s reunion and seeing where life has taken everyone. She’s also interested in learning about how the university has grown.
“I’ve been on campus in passing, but not for any formal events,” she says. “I want to see how the university has evolved.”
But what is Holmes most looking forward to? Seeing a very special GW mentor, “Mr. Michael Tapscott, director of the Multicultural Student Services Center (MSCC)!” she says. “The MSSC was a second home while I was at GW, and he and the other MSSC staff were so important to me.”
Catch up with Shannon Holmes and other Class of 2008 Colonials at Alumni Weekend 2013!