Meet the Holmes Scholar: Jessica Diggins named 2022-23 top academic honor


Courtesy / Saint Anselm College

Jessica Diggins ‘23 and President Favazza posing in front of Alumni Hall

Michael Hanna, Crier Staff

Jessica Diggins, co. 23’ of Berlin, MA, has been named this year’s Fr. Bernard Holmes Scholar. The award is presented annually to an incoming senior and provides a full tuition scholarship for the student’s final year at Saint Anselm College. Holmes Scholars show concern for and work to aid others, demonstrate leadership potential, and actively participate in the Saint Anselm College community.

Diggins is an English major with a minor in American Studies and Philosophy, planning to attend the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education. She was accepted into their Master of Education program and currently interns in administration and recruiting for Notre Dame. She will be moving to Indiana after graduation to begin working on her master’s degree. After that, Notre Dame will send her to an underprivileged Catholic School where she will teach either middle or high school English.

Educational Advocacy has long been a passion for Jessica, who has spent her time at Saint Anselm College attempting to make the school more accessible for students with disabilities. When asked about a dream job that she believes Saint Anselm College has uniquely equipped her to pursue, she said, “I have been able to work with campus administration to make our college more accessible to students with disabilities, which has been a huge gift and I’ve gotten so much support from administration and faculty which has been awesome.” Jessica also understands that general giving and a commitment to service are fundamental values here at Saint Anselm College. Along with continuing her goals of educational advocacy, she hopes to continue living an Anselmian life of giving and service in whatever community she finds herself in.

Her most memorable moment over the past four years was not one she could easily specify. She says, “getting to live out joyful friendships and finding wonderful community here has been more meaningful than a specific moment.” She quickly acknowledged that the word “community” is often thrown around campus. Still, she clarifies that through living in this community for four years, you can begin to understand how valuable the community on campus is for the students and the faculty. When asked to advise incoming students and underclassmen on how to get involved in our amazing campus community, she said, “the best way to get involved is to get involved in something you are passionate about” adding “the things that I have been able to get involved in like campus ministry and tutoring at the ARC have been super uplifting to me, you need to find things that you are genuinely excited to go to as opposed to
joining clubs that you think will help you get a job or into a good grad school.” Jessica is heavily involved in many things around campus and has served as a Resident Assistant. She loves to give advice whenever it’s needed.

Regarding continuing to live a Benedictine life after graduation, Jessica recalled that service was her main draw to attending Saint Anselm. She talks about how service has changed her life perspective to find grace and beauty in every interaction and with every new person you meet. Many of her theology and philosophy classes have taught her how to see God and grace in every person. She hopes to serve people throughout her life with the same beauty and grace she finds in everyone she meets.

Jessica now has the honor of being the Holmes Scholar and carries the legacy of Father Bernard Holmes. She describes the feeling as “humbling” and “a huge honor that people in the community have identified me as being able to represent such a large part of our school’s history, and they saw qualities [in me] that were in line with such an important member of our school’s community.” While she does not feel pressure, she hopes to live up to the kindness and honor of being the Holmes Scholar and is very grateful that the community was willing to invest in her in this way.

To receive this award, you must be nominated by a member of the College faculty or staff during the spring of your junior year. After finding out she was a finalist for the scholarship, she was required to submit some additional materials, such as a personal statement. Once officially named a finalist, the school allows students to send character testaments. Jessica joked that this part was specifically intimidating, “I was an RA. There are people who don’t like me.” She called it an “involved and vulnerable process.” In April of her spring semester, she went into an interview process conducted by a panel of professors and college administrators. Then by the end of April, she found out she had been awarded the Holmes Scholarship.

To any reader looking to receive the Holmes Scholarship, Jessica leaves you with three pieces of advice. First, she says, “look to make genuine connections with the faculty and staff early on in college because the first step in the process is being nominated.” Secondly, “get involved with the things you are passionate about so that you can speak to those you are passionate about in the interview process.” And finally, “live out what you are called to do on this campus. Every person is here for a reason and to fill a particular role that no one else can fill, so engage in what you care about because good things will come of that.”