ALAMOSA – After beginning her great story at Adams State, the Honorable Barbara Jenniges Holmes ‘82 inspired many to create their own great stories, including her daughter, Erica Holmes Trujillo ‘11, who nominated her for the Outstanding Alumna Award, saying, “It is her commitment to her community, which my mother learned at Adams State, that makes her the best candidate for this award.”
Holmes will accept the Adams State University 2017 Outstanding Alumna Award at the Alumni Banquet and Awards Ceremony during Homecoming on October 20. For reservations and tickets, call the Alumni Relations Office at 719-587-8110.
“I am so very humbled and honored to be invited to join the group of recognized distinguished Adams State alumni,” Holmes said.
On August 1, 2015, Holmes was appointed a United States Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee. “U.S. Magistrate Judges are appointed through a merit selection process for renewable eight-year terms. In this capacity, I have a wide range of judicial responsibilities in both civil and criminal cases.”
Adams State helped launch her law career. She grew up in northern Colorado, part of a “really big family,” and the affordability of Adams State attracted her. She was also familiar with the campus after attending a Top of the Nation Honor Band.
“I liked the campus, the surrounding area, and knew the college had a really strong pre-law program.”
Inspired by professors
Holmes’ professors left a lasting impression as she pursued a degree in history/government. “All of my professors at Adams State were very encouraging of my intention to become a lawyer, and that encouragement and support motivated me. All of these professors expected a lot, but they offered so much in return,” she said.
The women, she said, “demonstrated success without sacrificing what makes you unique and creative.” Those role models include Dr. Norma Peterson, emeritus professor of history; Dr. Shirley Fredericks; and Dr. Jodine Ryan, emeritus professor of English.
Holmes’ male mentors impressed upon her the value of being prepared, of thoroughly learning the material. “These men had very different personalities, and I appreciated learning from them how to later navigate the world of earning the respect of male colleagues.” Those professors include Dr. Dwight Crowder, former professor of history; Dr. John McDaniel, emeritus professor of history; and the Honorable Carlos Lucero ‘61, former adjunct professor of government, now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
One of her fondest Adams State memories was of the time Judge Lucero, and his wife, Dorothy ’61, took a class to their mountain cabin. “Letting us into their personal life provided the example of how to be a well-rounded person, by balancing work and family,” Holmes said.
Throughout her life, Holmes had models that were active in their community, starting with her parents, Bud and Donna Jenniges. “Their volunteer work inspired me to pursue a career to help others. I also had two strong role models in law school, Professors Andy Shookhoff and Mary Walker, who are also great friends. I worked with both of them in the Vanderbilt legal clinic, representing indigent clients.”
Trujillo said her mother truly cares for others. “Over the last 30 years, she has made it her mission to change the lives of those around her. During her law practice, I cannot remember a time that my mother was not involved with a pro bono case, most of which were for single mothers and/or children involved in family court.”
Strives to balance the scales
“I am moved by people who overcome adversity,” Holmes said. “Two young women who were clients of mine spent their lives in the foster care system, but refused to let that define them and instead were driven by that experience to help other people, to advocate for social justice. Their courage, grace and outlook on life inspire me every day.”
One of those fortunate clients was Jacinta (last name withheld for privacy), who had lived in 23 foster homes and two Tennessee group homes by the age of 18. Holmes represented her pro bono against the Department of Children Services. Her commitment continued outside the courtroom. “With the support of Mrs. Barbara, I was the first person in my biological family to make it past sophomore year and graduate from high school,” she said. Jacinta then received a scholarship to attend New York’s Wagner College, but had no means of getting there. “I just had a dream,” Jacinta said. “Mrs. Barbara believed in my dream. She helped me register for classes. She paid for and accompanied me to New York and stayed with me for five days.”
Holmes also appreciates the energy, enthusiasm and collective social consciousness of the younger generation. “I am also inspired by the new citizens I meet during naturalization ceremonies, by their determination, and especially by their appreciation for things that we too often take for granted, like the privileges of citizenship.”
Holmes’ friend since 1988, fellow attorney Tom Forrester said she is a person of undeniable integrity. “Barbara regularly lectures and teaches, making those in our profession better lawyers and citizens. Throughout her career in private practice, she was a tireless advocate for those whose voices have been silenced because of poverty, inadequate education, inadequate housing, inadequate healthcare or station in life. She shows leadership and drive in so many positive ways. She is a shining example of what is good and right and honorable about our profession.”
Although Holmes doesn’t remember an “ah-ha” moment of deciding to study and practice law, she believes that chapter began indirectly. While in middle school, she participated in a program for future law careers. The program took place in Greeley, a 20-minute drive from her hometown of Milliken.
“My mother drove me to every meeting, which was a big commitment on her part. I’m not sure I fully realized it at the time, but I think part of my inspiration was wanting to follow through and show her that meant something to me.”
Holmes encourages students and those entering their careers to be prepared; work hard, but take time to recharge; accept help when offered; give credit where credit is due; and “have at least one co-worker who genuinely makes you laugh.”
For the next five to ten years, Holmes will continue as a federal judge and begin thinking of retirement, when she hopes to spend more time with children and grandchildren. “There is nothing that inspires – and gives you a new perspective – like the laughter and amazement of children.”
Getting to know Barbara Holmes
Husband, John ’83 – they met at Adams State
Children: Mitch (Meg) and Erica (Diego Trujillo)
Grandchildren: Jack, Everett, Santiago
Holmes Family ASU connections
The late Dr. John Holmes, former professor of counselor education
Barbara Jenniges Holmes - 1982
John Holmes, Jr. - 1983
Jeni Holmes Goodwin - 1985
The late Nora Holmes - 1986
Greg Goodwin - 1996
James “Fuzzy” Holmes - 1997
Diego Trujillo - 2011
Erica Holmes Trujillo - 2011, 2014
Reading a good book at the end of the day spent with family
South Dakota Red Rock Canyon
Her screened-in porch at dusk
Fellow judges at her office
Making a difference
Presiding over Naturalization Ceremonies
Juris Doctor Degree, Vanderbilt University School of Law, Nashville, Tennessee, 1986
Bachelor of Arts in Music Education – Adams State University, 1982
Caption: The Honorable Barbara Holmes ’82 with fellow judges at her 2015 United States Magistrate Judge investiture ceremony in Tennessee. She will receive the 2017 Adams State Outstanding Alumna Award during Homecoming. Courtesy photo