From growing up in the Bronx, to living and working in Harlem, Veronica Holly has lived a life of commitment to advocacy and community. The student, daughter and educator talks about the benefits of her 15 years at Teachers College, her inspirations and the future. Here she discusses professional life and tennis.Janee Nesbitt: Where are you originally from?
Veronica Holly: Bronx, NY
JN: Where did you go to college?
VH: Syracuse University, NY
JN: What did you major in?
VH: Political Science
JN: What is the purpose of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME)?
VH: For almost forty years, IUME has used advocacy, demonstration, evaluation, information dissemination, research and technical assistance to study and seek to improve the quality of life chances through education in the communities of urban and minority peoples. The Institute continues to focus on the implications of population diversity in the context of the demand for pluralistic competencies for the design and management of teaching and learning transactions in schools and other environments for education.
JN: What are you responsible for as assistant director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education?
VH: I’m responsible for program development and overseeing the Gordon Campus Community Initiatives.
JN: Why did you decide to go into Education Policy after getting a BA in Political Science?
VH: I worked right after college for the governor and after that I did some work for New York State Division of Youth but I always knew I wanted to go back to school. At first, I was torn with what I wanted to study but I quickly realized that I was interested in youth programs. When you’re a political science major, it’s important to find your niche for me it was education youth and families.
JN: A lot of your resume reflects work that tries to improve upon the education of children, why do you choose to work for the benefit of children?
VH: Because our children are our future and I know that there are a number of children who aren’t afforded the same opportunities as other children have. I just want to make sure that my life’s work tries to equalize that.
JN: How long was your dissertation? How did you choose your topic?
VH: It’s not finished and it’s still a work in progress. I just dusted it off about a year ago. My current topic is on parent involvement and early children education state system building. It’s a case study of a special initiative early child education program in North Carolina and Mississippi.
JN: Who has had a lot of influence upon your life?
VH: My mother who is no longer with us, she taught me perseverance, respect, love, modesty and hard work. My father taught me my social, political and cultural understanding
JN: What do you want to be remembered for?
VH: My backhand (tennis). I think so many people in the community see what I do in my professional life, but not my private life. Every Saturday morning, I want to make an impact on the tennis court with my backhand. Throughout the year, I am fortunate to see my impact when young people I’ve worked with come back to my office. I think it’s the greatest compliment to your profession when someone comes back to say hello and updates me on their lives. I think I’m making an impact right now in the lives of children, I don’t have to wait for my deathbed.
JN: I think it’s a good thing that you can say tennis, so many people never get to witness the impact they make in life.
VH: I can say my backhand because I know I’m making an impact right now.
By Janee Nesbitt