By Jessica Pike, Staff Writer
Becoming the Assistant Dean of Students is a job that Sarah Holmes loves, especially being able to help out with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination against anyone based on sex.
“I am a very proud product of USM education, it has so much potential for so many people.” Holmes said. She also participates in the Campus Safety Project, a part of the Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity (CSGD), and founded the USM Safe Zone Project when she was an undergraduate student at USM.
Holmes majored in history with a minor in art history because those were the things she enjoyed and they taught her how to be a writer. However, she later went on to get her Masters in Adult Education because of the staff that had an impact on her education and she wanted to help people too. Holmes said, “It is hard work, but something I’m good at.” She now helps to prevent violence on campus and helps students who have had experience with similar types of violence and life changing experiences that could negatively affect students work. “Collaboration is important,” she added.
Holmes first founded the USM Safe Zone Project due to an anti-gay graffiti found on a group of educational and international AIDS posters in 1992. She wanted to help raise awareness and to protect the LGBTQ+ community, so she got involved in student government, the campus alliance group, and participated in Dialogues for Diversity as an undergraduate. As a graduate student of Adult Education, she also worked as the Tradebook Assistant for the USM Bookstore and later on, the Administrative Assistant and Assistant to the Area Director of Portland Hall. She was also the first coordinator of the LGBTQ+ Resource Center at USM when she was a graduate student, along with advising the alliance student group and helped coordinate not one, but two Northeast Regional LGBTQ+ Student Leadership Conferences. That later resulted in many on-campus shows of support, like the Portland Campus Drag Queen Show.
After graduating from USM, Holmes was chosen as a Vaid Research Fellow for the National LGBTQ+ Task Force (NGLTF) Policy Institute that was located in New York City. For the most part, her work was focused on the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in the K-12 education. This brought about her articles that were published in the Journals of Gay and Lesbian Issues in Education, where she also worked with other authors on subjects like the effect of the upbringing on a child’s view, the gender differences in a relationship and school experiences with LGBT.
Holmes worked at USM for about six years as a Coordinator for the CSGD. Her job later expanded when she became the Assistant Director of Student Life and Diversity and in 2014, as she also had oversight of the Wellness Resource centers and had a more active role in the Campus Safety Project. She also briefly worked for the University of New England in alumni advancement for three years in between the years she worked for USM. Overall though, Holmes has been a staff member of USM for almost seventeen years. Most of Holmes skills for her work now lie in logistics, programming and making other’s ideas happen. She has also now started a Ph.D program in public policy and education leadership. According to Holmes, she hadn’t seen herself working the job she has now when she first started at USM, as it was her dream job to be coordinator for the CSGD, but she is also extremely enthused and pleased with her current job as Assistant Dean of Students and Deputy Title IX Coordinator.