Campus News

Student-body president prepared by tough lessons

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Challenges and failures marked the difficult journey of Jordan Holmes to his current position as student-body president. Holmes, whose father served in the air force, moved frequently as a child, attending seven different schools before coming to Bethel as a freshman in 2011. Battling the difficulties of transitioning so often from one school to another, Holmes struggled to get along with other students throughout grade school. According to Holmes, he developed a personal relationship with one principal due to the frequency of his trips to the principal’s office. In middle school and high school particularly Holmes struggled with a fierce temper that led to two failed attempts at becoming class president despite the fact that only the 12 students in his grade got to vote. Holmes, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, has also lived in Texas and North Dakota. For three years, he lived in Okinawa, Japan, a place he says he loved. His family settled in Lansing, Mich., nine years ago after his father retired from the air force. Holmes said his father was never a pilot as most assume people are in the air force. Instead, his father worked a nine-to-five job managing medical supplies in hospitals on base. Holmes has two younger sisters, Jessica and Jaclyn. Jessica is currently a sophomore at Bethel and Jaclyn is a senior in high school considering Bethel for after she graduates. The frequent moves their family made often left Holmes as the new kid at school. “Kids would ignore me,” he said. “I wasn’t included in events. That’s kind of normal for a lot of kids. But it happened to me pretty badly and I wasn’t able to handle it as well as other kids.” He recalled several of his many trips to the principal’s office in elementary school, one of which was for kicking snow and another for telling a girl in choir that he was going to “kill her.” “I had anger issues when I was younger,” Holmes said. “I had to go to the counsellor. She became like my best friend.” He said he was also the victim of bullies who made gay jokes and “slightly racial jokes.” “My mom is white and my dad is black,” Holmes said. “The kids at school used to call me ‘whale nose.’” Holmes leans back in his chair in the quiet, fluorescent-lit study room in the basement of Bowen Library. He shrugs at the memory, but his dark eyes lack their usual twinkle. His thick black eyebrows are straight and low now compared to the raised arches they become when he smiles. He wears rectangular glasses with mottled black and brown frames. There is a tiny gap in the front teeth of his otherwise perfect smile. And his voice has a husky, rumbling quality to it. In high school, Holmes attended a small Christian school where he had a graduating class of only 12 students. Class president elections there consisted of evaluating the positive and negative traits of each class member and then voting. Holmes admitted that he was so angry when he lost that he wanted to change schools. At the time, he was considered very hot-headed and his peers did not think he would be able to calmly handle adverse situations. After the class president, who had been having difficulties with the school, was removed from his position, Holmes lost the election a second time to another classmate. Recalling the painful experience, Holmes said it taught him to control his emotions and deal with rejection. “Emotions are what run me for the most part,” he said. “But that taught me a lot about what I needed to work on in terms of controlling my emotions.” “I had a lot of problems,” Holmes said. “Looking back I’m glad I wasn’t in that sort of authority at that time.” However, Holmes said he has learned to deal with his emotions in a healthier manner since then. And he still had a great high school experience. In high school, he was involved in basketball, soccer and cross country. In addition to sports he played the drums for his church and volunteered at a children’s museum. Also, he and his fellow seniors were all “designated leaders” at their high school who led small groups and planned events. Using the skills he gained and lessons he learned in high school, Holmes won the election for student-body president after a tough race in March 2014. “It’s been great to see him grow from a freshman to being the president now,” said Juan Torres, a close friend of Holmes. Kristen Wagnerowski, a close friend of Holmes for the past three years, said her favorite thing about him is “how much he cares about other people and how he is always looking out for the other person.” It has been a long journey since his days of being picked on in school and it has taken a long time to recover his self-confidence. “I would say pretty much from middle school to end of sophomore year of college, I had to slowly grow in confidence and learn to like who I was,” Holmes said. “I struggled with self-hate for a long time. When you’re at that point where you just feel crappy every single day because you feel like you’re not as good as everybody else around you, you start asking yourself ‘why do I feel like that?’” Holmes said he began searching for answers to that question during his semester abroad, where he felt he had a safe loving environment to talk to friends and chaperones about how he was feeling. He learned to change his negative thought processes and realized that he had friends, parents and a God who loved him for who he was. Holmes, who is double majoring in history and humanities, will be graduating after this semester. The 21-year-old, who loves movies, dystopian novels and football, has big plans for the future. Holmes said he would like to work for U.S. Embassies in Asia, teach overseas, or do missions. However, if he decides to go to grad school, he said he would pursue a master’s degree in international studies or intercultural relations. He will be giving a speech at graduation on May 2. When asked if he gets nervous speaking in public, he said, “If I just do it, I don’t get nervous. But when I have to think about, I get nervous. Like when I have to write a speech out.” As far as his plans for the remainder of his presidency, Holmes said he wants to leave a legacy and provide a foundation for future presidents to build on. For the past five or six years, student council has had difficulty getting enough people to be part of student council and many Bethel students are unaware of its functions and, therefore, assume it does not do much. “For this final semester, I just want to let other clubs know if they have big goals, student council will help them try to achieve their big goals,” Holmes said.
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