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Accomplished Foreign Service Officer Named Inspirational Young Alumnus at Pomona College

David Holmes '97

Of all the places David Holmes thought life might lead him after he graduated from Pomona College in 1997, the desperate and devastated landscape of post-war Kosovo was not one of them. But now he couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

Holmes works for the U.S. Department of State as a political and human rights officer, promoting human rights and helping the society to rebuild in the aftermath of a brutal civil war.

“I did not know what I wanted to do when I left Pomona, but I have found it,” said Holmes, who has been named Pomona College’s Inspirational Young Alumnus for 2004.

“It is a life lived in a true spirit of adventure with the enviable opportunity to promote the rights of threatened minority communities, to fight a modern form of slavery, to bring peace to shattered families, to rebuild a society in the wake of war, and the promote human rights and a path toward progress and peace in a dark corner of Europe.”

In his current position, Holmes works with the leaders of minority communities in Kosovo to monitor their political positions and activities and encourage them to support the policies of the international community. He also documents and advocates for the compassionate resolution of human rights issues, in particular human trafficking and missing persons in Kosovo.

Holmes hopes his experiences will inspire other Pomona graduates to consider a career in public service.

“Pomona graduates often have fascinating, unusual, idiosyncratic careers, but in their search for 'the road less traveled' I think perhaps they often fail to realize the tremendous impact they can have - the tremendous good they can achieve - by following the well-trodden path of public service to leverage the influence of their own country to achieve their ideals,” said Holmes. “Pomona graduates and their like are precisely the type of people needed in public service, and now more than ever before.”

After graduation from Pomona, Holmes worked as a consultant to several organizations, including the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. In 2000, he received a Masters in Management, Economics & International Politics from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and, in 2002, a Masters in Public Affairs from Princeton University. While at Princeton, he helped to teach a "Practical Ethics" course with noted professor and bio-ethicist Peter Singer. Holmes served as a Long-term Election Observer for the Albanian Parliamentary elections, and NATO Team Leader in the Partnership for Peace Office in Albania before becoming a Foreign Service Political Officer for the U.S. Department of State in 2002.

The Inspirational Young Alumni Award was established to honor Pomona College graduates of the last decade for their dedication, perseverance and consistency in following their vision of the inscription on the Blaisdell Gates: "They only are loyal to this college who departing, bear their added riches in trust for mankind." Nominations can be made by faculty, staff, students or alumni of the College, and the winner is chosen by a committee of current students.

Pomona College is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offering a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.