Representing the Underrepresented Well

Sherry McKnight

Sherry Tuliwa McKnight, doctoral student in the Department of Teaching and Learning, has quite a diverse educational background. And being designated as 1 of 3 Holmes Scholars at UNLV continues to distinguish her as she completes her doctoral studies.

McKnight transferred to UNLV in 2004 after receiving her associate's degree in Liberal Arts. Upon graduating with a bachelor's degree in African American History and in 2008, she cites her son as her inspiration to further her education: "My son encouraged me to join him in graduate school. When I graduated with my master's in December 2012, my son received his Ph.D. at the same graduation ceremony. Of course, he also wanted his mother to change the family tradition and complete a Ph.D. as well."

In 2013 McKnight began the Ph.D. in Career and Technical Education and Post-Secondary Education (CTPE) degree program; her dissertation work centers on the potential role of stereotype threat in African American females' pursuit of graduate education. While helping other adults that were returning to the University for a graduate degree in the CTPE program, she was nominated as a Holmes Scholar.

The Holmes Scholar program, which began in 1991, was designed for historically underrepresented individuals at various colleges and universities in the United States. The program is sponsored by the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE). Research indicates a tremendous need for retention, progression, and completion of graduate degrees for underrepresented students in the higher education system. McKnight is honored to be a UNLV student who is part of breaking the historical cycle that often holds back underrepresented students in higher education.

Holmes Scholars serve a three-year term, participate in the AACTE Annual Meeting each year, and attend at least two other conferences and/or symposiums offered by the Holmes Scholar Organization. After completing her work as a Holmes Scholar, McKnight plans on continuing making contributions in the local community and beyond.

Additional information regarding the Holmes Scholars program may be found at