Blog

McKenzie Holmes: A Laurel Springs Scholar, Author, and Leader

After college, McKenzie completed three months of lectures and three months of outreach in south Asia while simultaneously keeping a travel blog.An ordinary high-school experience might not include writing a children’s book and trilogy.

An ordinary high-school student might not receive a prestigious academic fellowship with the think tank, The Heritage Foundation.

McKenzie Holmes is anything but ordinary. As a matter of fact, in our opinion, McKenzie is extraordinary.

McKenzie describes her education at Laurel Springs School as being in the presence of “brilliant thinkers” and “amazingly talented musicians, dancers, actors. She talks about developing relationships with peers — entirely in an online environment — who helped her grow personally and academically.

After graduating from Laurel Springs in 2017, the Texas native was named an Academic Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, completed a youth mission in Germany, and landed a full-time communications position at the Independent Women’s Forum.

Looking back, she says the flexible learning environment at Laurel Springs School allowed her to challenge the traditional mold of education by turning her personal interests into passionate expositions.

McKenzie’s Journey to Laurel Springs School

After a year at a traditional private middle school didn’t provide the learning environment McKenzie and her mother desired, McKenzie and her mother turned to online learning and soon discovered Laurel Springs.

At Laurel Springs, McKenzie finally felt like she belonged. She was inspired by the academic and athletic talents of her peers. Musicians. Dancers. Actors. And as she interacted with fellow students, “they all pushed me to grow.”

McKenzie learned leadership and confidence through Laurel Springs’ extracurricular programs. She invested herself in the Creative Writing Club where she became an editor after just one year. McKenzie also participated in Student Government, moving from secretary to vice president to president by her senior year. She also frequently participated in the writing workshop, Camp NaNoWriMo.

But McKenzie didn’t stop there. She published a children’s book with a fellow Laurel Springs alum and wrote a poetry book.

Preparing for Life Beyond Laurel Springs

After Laurel Springs, McKenzie attended Galveston College in Galveston Island, Texas where she majored in Political Science. McKenzie graduated in May 2019 after just three semesters. She says her AP courses encouraged her to keep pushing the boundaries of her education.

“I realized it’s kind of up to me to challenge myself,” she said. “Laurel Springs didn’t prescribe the milestones I needed to strive toward, I had to set the bar myself,” she explains. “I knew community college wasn’t going to set goals for me. I don’t think I would have been as prepared if not for the independent environment of Laurel Springs.”

McKenzie says her involvement with Student Government allowed her to find her voice and view leadership in a whole new light. McKenzie credits the online environment for helping her to overcome her shyness and ease into these leadership roles comfortably.

“It kind of forced me out of my comfort zone to hop on the microphone in iClasses,” she said. “If it was in a physical environment, I never would’ve gotten up in front of the classroom to speak. I think Laurel Springs probably fit well for me in a way that somewhere else would not have.”

World Traveler, Policy Expert

After college, McKenzie studied with Youth With A Mission in their Discipleship Training School located in eastern Germany. She completed three months of lectures and three months of outreach in south Asia while simultaneously keeping a travel blog.

Upon returning to the States, McKenzie began an internship through Running Start. She was placed with Independent Women’s Forum, a policy think tank based in Washington D.C., in their communications department.

This led to McKenzie a full-time position in the department, where she still works.

All the while, she credits her Laurel Springs education for allowing her to tackle so many obstacles.

“I think my perspective has changed since graduating from college,” she said. “I could not stress that enough.”

McKenzie is still up to a plethora of amazing work, too. She has participated in two other policy fellowships, worked on a novel, edited a short book for an acquaintance, and briefly served with Running Start over the summer of 2020. McKenzie was also recently awarded the department award and staff award at her organization.

With several projects also currently in the works, McKenzie is forever grateful for her time at Laurel Springs. She says her experiences helped piece together her life in a way she never imagined.

“I could go on and on about the value Laurel Springs has brought to my current life,” she said. “I would not be the same person if not for this school.”

McKenzie continues to remain connected to the Laurel Springs community as a member of LSS Alumni Connect, receiving support in her career and professional endeavors and is available for coffee chats with current and prospective students.