Ronnie Holmes III and his mother, Angela Gunn, share many of the same traits—a drive for success, the desire for a college education and a strong work ethic. Holmes, who was high school salutatorian at Syracuse Academy of Science in 2016, strived to be the best student he could be in order to attend college. His motivation came from watching his mother as she worked full time, raised a family and attended college as a part-time student.
In May 2019, Holmes watched his mother graduate from Syracuse University through University College with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the College of Arts and Sciences. “I feel a great sense of pride knowing that, against all odds, she was able to persevere and realize her dream,” says Holmes. Like her son, Gunn valued lifelong learning but needed an affordable way to attend college. She found it through the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program, which provides access to Syracuse University for economically and educationally disadvantaged students from New York State.
Gunn reflected on the challenges she faced as a part-time student. “The workload is heavy. There are chapters to read, papers to complete, and lots of studying,” she says. But throughout her academic career, Gunn always put her children first and was determined to be their role model. “I want them to make the most of what purpose they have for being here on earth. Their talent is not for them, but to help or assist someone else.” Like his mother, Holmes began his academic career as a part-time student at Syracuse University, while also working full-time as an assistant manager at Finish Line. Studying part time helped him adjust to the academic environment.
After two years at University College, Holmes became a full-time student in the College of Engineering and Computer Science , majoring in aerospace engineering . The pair motivate each other to succeed. “My mother inspires me to never settle for less,” Holmes says. “I saw how hard she worked to get where she is today, and I want to do the same in my own life.”