By Anna Fletcher
Courier-Times Staff Writer

Patricia Holmes prepares for the start of her public speaking class at Piedmont Community College. ANNA FLETCHER | courier-times Patricia Holmes sits in a brightly-lit classroom at Piedmont Community College and waits for her public speaking course to begin. She opens a binder and flips through the pages, which are neatly organized in clear plastic sheet protectors. She’d given her speech during the previous class, donning full traditional Mexican attire to share the story of where she came from.

In May 1999, Holmes arrived in America exhausted, dirty and four months pregnant. As she climbed out of the pickup truck that had taken her from the United States-Mexico border to a rundown trailer in the middle of the New Mexican desert, her eyes fell on her seven-year-old daughter, Mariana. They’d been separated four long days before – entering the country in different locations, as instructed by one of their guides.

Her brother-in-law, Eduardo, was also there. He’d driven from Graham to bring them back to the home he shared with Holmes’ sister, Zoveida. The following year, Holmes was granted a U visa after an abusive incident with her then-husband, who had come to America with her.

The non-immigrant visa is given to crime victims – and their immediate family members – who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement in prosecuting the criminal case.

‘Lead by example’
Now, Holmes lives in Timberlake, having raised Mariana and her youngest daughter, Nayhive, as a single mother, married again in 2009 and gained citizenship in 2014. She enrolled at PCC to earn her GED and is currently studying human services and pursuing an associate in arts.

Earlier this year, she was nominated for the 2018 Governor Robert W. Scott Student Leadership Award, which recognizes student leadership on a statewide level.

“I always tell [my daughters,] ‘I left behind everything so you guys can have a better life. So you better do good,’” she said.

“Because most of the Hispanic population, they come over here, and they forget about why they came here. You tell your kids, ‘I want you to get educated,’ but you’re not educating yourself. So you need to lead by example.”

In January, Holmes applied for an internship at the White House, specifically in the communications and diplomacy departments, which she hopes will help her eventually become a motivational speaker.

“You can apply for five different departments,” she said. “They ask you, ‘What is the first one you want and the second?’ I chose communications [for my first choice,] because I’m going to give speeches in the future. So I want to learn from the people who type the speeches at the White House.”

‘They can achieve their dreams’

Her ultimate goal is to start a motivational speaking business, she says.
She wants to encourage people to be unafraid of setting their eyes on something that may be out of reach, likening it to her days spent walking through the desert almost 19 years ago.

“The guide that was helping us cross, he’d say, ‘Do you see that red light? We need to get there,’” she said. “We never got there. Ever. I think he was making us keep walking – like, I know you’re tired, but let’s go.”

The unreachable red light that pushed her onward to a better life is also the inspiration for her business’ logo, she says. She’s currently designing it with the help of Signarama Roxboro.

“I try to have everything have a meaning for me,” she said. “I want the logo to be a little mountain with an antenna [and] a little red dot,” she said. “And the sky is going to be dark – silky dark – with some stars. The lady at Signarama asked me why, and I said, ’It’s what I saw when I crossed.’”

Through her business, she hopes to inspire people to chase their dreams while appreciating what they already have.

“I want to go to conferences, churches – anywhere they give me the opportunity to talk to the people there,” she said. “I’m just searching for opportunities to make people conscious, to be thankful to be here in this country. Inspire people, you know; tell them they can achieve their dreams. Look at me, I achieved my dreams. We make it complicated, but it’s not that complicated.”

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