Tierra Holmes of South Philadelphia is one of the nation’s 1,000 high school students to be awarded a Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS)—a full nine-year college scholarship that covers tuition, texts, and housing. Holmes is a senior at Imhotep Institute Charter High School in West Oak Lane where she is set to graduate. She was one of several students recently recognized by the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC) for this accomplishment.
Miss Holmes will attend Howard University this fall where she plans to study sociology, political science, and African studies. Once she completes four years at Howard, she plans to move on to law school where she will study civil law.
Holmes said her experiences at Imhotep Institute Charter High School, a public charter school with a culturally responsive African-centered curriculum, contributed significantly to her winning the scholarship.
“By learning more about my heritage and the achievements my ancestors made, I was able to grow and experience culture and education in a different way,” said Holmes. “The four years I studied at Imhotep exposed me to so many new opportunities and experiences, which will benefit me throughout life.”
Holmes learned about the scholarship opportunity while attending a youth summit at Temple University where she met a Gates Scholar. Impressed with the student’s accomplishments, Holmes set out to try it herself. She quickly learned the application process was demanding, and at times she considered giving up. But, she credits her mentor, Lori Harris, Director of Imhotep’s Pillars of Peace mediation and mentoring program, for encouraging her to continue, and for guiding her through the scholarship application process.
“When I met Tierra, I was struck by her determination and deep thinking,” said Harris. “She had such a curiosity about so many subjects and a true passion for learning. Although she had a few challenges and setbacks that would have deterred many people, she stayed focused and persistent in her goals. She once told me that she saw education as her way to a better life. This scholarship is truly the outcome of her strong self-determination.”
Holmes plans to spend time with her family and friends over the summer before heading to Howard in August.