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Denmark Tech director named Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate

Leslie Holman-Brooks, Denmark Technical College executive director of career and student services, has been selected for the 2023 Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award by the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition for her outstanding work involving high-impact practices for first-year students. Holman-Brooks was one of only ten individuals to be recognized internationally for this distinction. 

“I feel honored and humbled to receive this recognition.” said Holman-Brooks. “I love what I do. I’m passionate about getting our students started on the right path as they navigate college and set career goals. To have that recognized is such a blessing. It validates the importance of the work we do in the office of career and student services.” 

Holman-Brooks was recognized at the 42nd Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience, which was held in Los Angeles, California on February 3-6. 

“On behalf of Denmark Technical College, I want to congratulate Ms. Holman-Brooks on this well-deserved award,” said Dr. Willie L. Todd Jr., Ph.D. “The work done with our students, many of whom are first generation college students who come from challenging circumstances, by her and the career and student services staff has been transformational, not only to our students but to the culture of Denmark Tech. Her commitment to and concern for first-year students is evident in the programs she develops for them.” 

Holman-Brooks launched Panther Pathways, a guided pathways program aimed at personalizing the student advisement experience and empowering incoming freshmen to develop educational plans that will help them to meet their career goals, in 2020. The program had an immediate impact on the college’s persistence, retention and graduation rates. 

“Denmark Technical College students were experiencing the same trend that many technical colleges, HBCUs and traditional universities across the country were noticing, where first-year students were not fully engaged in their education which resulted in lower grades, student satisfaction and graduation rates. We took a hard look at our how we were serving our students and developed Panther Pathways. The program fully involves the student in their individualized career path and gives them the tools they need to be successful,” said Holman-Brooks.  

Holman-Brooks has been at Denmark Technical College since 2015, where she has also served as director of career planning and placement. She will begin the pursuit of her doctorate in educational leadership from Liberty University later this spring. 

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