Born and raised in North Carolina, Etta Holmes has been part of the University Instructors (UI) team for sixteen years. She raised two children in a military family, living in three different countries and various areas of the US.
She attended numerous colleges to earn her undergrad degree in English, including Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, NC, Cerro Coso Community College in Ridgecrest, CA, Arizona Western College in Yuma, AZ, and Write State University in Dayton, Ohio. She was also very involved in college as a dancer and journalist for the school paper.
Prior to learning about UI in 2003, Etta worked for the US Department of Labor, US Department of Commerce, the US Agency for International Development and Ford Aerospace/Loral Space and Range. She was introduced to the company by becoming one of the first UI tutors in the Raleigh/Durham area. Interested in taking on a bigger role within the company, she was part of the NC management team while also working as a lead instructor. In 2005, she developed her role as the first program manager in NC and is currently a Regional Manager of Field Operations, leading programs in NC and SC.
As the first program manager at UI, Etta says she created her own path in the position and learned how to manage programs by using her past experiences. Handling a household and two children that were very active in dance, singing, scouts, and sports; while managing their lives through high school and college was great training. Since the Marine Corps moved her family every two years, on average, she additionally learned how to navigate many different moves as well, including two overseas travels.
“I think of all of my roles in program management as different layers,” says Etta. “Each layer taught me more about the company and gave me an opportunity to apply and share what I learned both on my own and with guidance from leaders like Susan Greene, Tamu Thomas Walker, and Jim Popp.”
What Etta undoubtedly enjoys most about UI is the people she works with and the relationships she has built with clients and internal staff. She says she feels like she’s known certain coworkers her entire life.
Since her start with the company, Etta says UI has tremendously grown, stating that at first UI was very “mom and pop.” There were hardly any processes in place, and individuals seemed to operate independently, less like a team. Since then, the team has implemented standard operating procedures, the technology has been modernized, and the company comes together as a group more often. She also adds that EPIC Summer and Afterschool programs have developed into the largest company-wide offering that has progressed.
“We keep getting better and better at it, and it’s become very popular in many areas of the country.”