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Four Doctoral Students Selected as First Holmes Scholars

Four doctoral students in TCU’s College of Education have been selected to participate in the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) Holmes Scholars Program, based on their academic achievements and their commitment to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the field of education.

“We are proud of the significant academic and professional accomplishments of our first Holmes Scholars,” said Frank Hernandez, College of Education dean. “We are excited to see these scholars advance their work and increase educational equity through participation in this program.”

The first Holmes Scholars at TCU will join a national network of students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds and are pursuing doctoral degrees. As a member institution, TCU’s College of Education will provide financial support and mentorship through the AACTE program. Each student will serve a 3-year term, participating in research, advocacy and policy initiatives, including the AACTE Annual Meeting and the Holmes Scholars Summer Policy Institute.

Students selected for the first Holmes Scholars Program cohort include:

Cara Jones

Educational Leadership Doctoral Student

Cara Jones is pursuing a degree in K-12 Educational Leadership. Her doctoral work is focused on racial identity development, Critical Race Theory, and data use in schools. She is particularly interested in how biracial students develop their racial identity in school and critical quantitative studies. Cara has worked for the last eight years in K-12 education as a teacher, instructional coach, data analyst and curriculum specialist. She also serves as an adjunct professor in the TCU College of Education. Cara holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from TCU and a bachelor’s in Applied Learning and Development from the University of Texas at Austin. Cara has a wonderful partner, Trevon, and an amazing toddler, Lucas – both who inspire her every day.


Ebony Love

Educational Leadership Doctoral Student

Ebony Love received her master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Alabama along with a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from TCU. Prior to starting her doctoral program, Ebony worked as an assistant principal, administrative intern through the TCU Principal Fellows program and has taught chemistry, debate and coached cheer. Her research interests include understanding the intersection of data and educational policy, empowerment of individual districts and examining how politics impact decision making in education. Outside of academia, she enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephews, reading, and watching college football. Her mission as an educational leader is to create growth-centered environments in which individuals are empowered to innovate in order to cultivate success in all students as learners and individuals.


Leslie Ekpe

Higher Educational Leadership Doctoral Student

Leslie received her B.S. in Management from Alabama A&M University, her M.A. in Communication Management from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and M.B.A. with a focus in Business Administration from Sam Houston State University. Leslie was a Professional Communications teacher for Uplift Education prior to joining Texas Christian University. Her work aims to promote access for marginalized students at the K-12 and post-secondary education levels. Her research interests include Black women in leadership, college access policies, student activism in the digital age, racial politics in education, and fairness within intercollegiate athletics.


Ariela Martinez

Higher Educational Leadership Doctoral Student

Ariela Martinez is an experienced college access and higher education professional who has served students from diverse academic, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds at both the high school and collegiate level. Her professional work includes: TRiO Student Support Services Lead Ambassador, College Adviser via TCU College Advising Corps, Success Coach at Tarrant County College (TCC), and Senior Transfer Admission Counselor and adjunct instructor at Texas Christian University (TCU). Ariela earned her Associate degree from Tarrant County College (TCC) and her B.S. and M.Ed. degrees from TCU, where she is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership. As a critical scholar, her research interests center on issues of educational equity in higher education for minoritized students.