Holly Jenkins returned to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in business and a second in ethical leadership as an adult student in the accelerated program. As she continues her education in pursuit of a master’s degree in ethical leadership, she was honored as the 2023 Thomas More recipient of the Nancy Janes Boothe Scholarship at the Outstanding Women of Northern Kentucky celebration hosted by the NKY Chamber. In this Saints Spotlight, Holly talks about her experience at the University and her love of learning.
DK: Welcome back to another edition of Saint Spotlight. Today we are joined by Holly Jenkins, here in the Thomas More community. Thank you so much for joining us here for another edition.
HJ: Thank you for inviting me, David.
DK: First off, could you please share a short history behind your career path and any important turning points?
HJ: Okay. I’ll be 71 years old next month, so I won’t go all the way back to when the career started, but I have done so many different things. I’ve been really blessed to not just be on one career path; I have been a business owner, secretary, I have been a stay-at-home mom; the industries that I’ve worked in are just as varied. I tend to, I would say, get bored easily or once I’ve learned something I want to learn something new, and I go into a new career.
The latest has been, for about the last 15 years, I’ve been an executive corporate coach and I do individual coaching as well. That has been a passion more so than just a career. I’m blessed that it is lucrative enough that my company, Restart Your Life – that’s what I named it because there’s so many times in our lives that we do have to restart. Like when people go off to college – they restart; in a marriage – they restart; birth of children, children go off to college, there’s death of a spouse or death of a parent – we’re always restarting our lives in some way. I wanted to be able to help guide people through some of that.
DK: You have been the CEO at Restart Your Life for over 15 years, can you share some of your memories and accomplishments over that time?
HJ: The biggest accomplishment for me was, I’ve always read, but in order to help people with different areas of their life, I had to really become educated in so many different genres, not music, but reading and then really internalizing and being able to support someone else going through something that maybe I haven’t gone through myself. How do I do that? I had to learn those things. That was a lot of the journey, and this continues all the time. You never stop being able to learn.
To me a big accomplishment was when I read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book “The Four Agreements,” once I read that book, incorporating them into my life. It’s one thing to read something, it’s something else even to understand it, but to actually put it in practice in your life on a daily basis: this is who you are, this is what you stand for. I’ve been able to do that, and I think that was a huge accomplishment for me. The fourth agreement, which we’ll talk about a little bit more later, is ‘always do your best’ and what that looks like. You got to be on 10 all the time with whatever you do and for me that is my greatest accomplishment whether it’s been a parent on 10, whether it’s been a student on 10, whether it’s being a friend on 10. Who I am all the time, I don’t waver. I’m not moody, like one day I’m here (hand motion above the head) and the next day I’m down there. Being your best doesn’t allow for that.
DK: As a student how has your experience been at Thomas More?
HJ: This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I love school, first of all, and when I was looking for a school to continue my education, I went to UC back in the ’70s and so when I wanted to pick back up, I was looking for a school. Of course, I went to UC first and was looking at their programs and talking to people. To be honest with you, two things brought me here. The first one was, UC wouldn’t accept their own old credits, so I needed a jump start, right? When UC was ruled out, I started reading about the different schools and one line in Thomas More’s mission statement, I would say, they talk about integrity; that this is the school that they live by
it, they teach it, all of that and I’m like that’s where I want to go. That is where I want to go, so I called, made an appointment, and five years later here I am working on my master’s.
DK: It’s been an honor to be a classmate of yours over these months as well, in that same program of ethical leadership. What have been some of your favorite parts of that class so far or the program?
HJ: All of it, absolutely all of it. I love the research, I love the videos, and I know that – no disrespect to anybody – sometimes when I read posts or see things, I’m like “did they read the same thing that I read?” Or “did they have the same question that I have?” Because it’s not matching, so sometimes I ask the professor “did I get something wrong here?” But I watch the videos, I read the book, I actually read my textbooks. I know a lot of students don’t, they skim and find what they need and as far as advice for students, I am and have already developed a curriculum that I’m going to present somewhere, to see if I can teach. The name of it is “Do You Want a Degree or Do You Want an Education?”
That’s my future plan, I want to teach that class “Do You Want a Degree or Do You Want an Education?” because sometimes they don’t go hand in hand. I know a lot of college graduates who do not have an education; they don’t and it’s not the school. The school is the school, its curriculum is its curriculum. So, do you want to learn that and get yourself an education or are you just getting through here to get your degree? The degree doesn’t get you the job, the degree may get you the interview for the job, but your education, what you’re bringing to the company. This piece of paper you can’t say “here.” You have got to bring something, you got to bring some of yourself as something within yourself to get and keep a job and create a career. It’s not about just getting a piece of paper, it’s a lifelong education.
This is a quick little story: by being an online student, I don’t participate in any of the groups on campus or anything like that. When I graduated last year with my bachelor’s, I decided to go on the senior boat ride. I’m going to do something with my class, right? I get on this boat and all these 20-somethings are jumping up and down I’m like, “Holly, what are you doing here?” I’m like 70 years old on this boat ride with these kids and I said, “Oh, that’s why I don’t do things on campus.” But they were so lovely and so gracious, and they made sure I had a good time. It was great, it really was but it was like ‘what the heck’? That is what I see in my future is trying to help, because the graduation rates at universities and colleges is dismal. Here even at Thomas More, it is less than 50%; so 50% of the freshmen coming in don’t get a degree or an education. You see what I’m saying? If we can do something up front, maybe that summer before they start into school, getting them to understand – doing some personal development because you’re 17/18 years old, what do you know? Not much and if we can start getting their mind set that they want an education.
People ask, “what are you studying?” They don’t say “what are you learning?” They say “what are you studying?” I’m studying math, I’m studying psychology, I’m studying this but what are you learning? It’s different and that’s the class that I want to teach. It’s getting them ready to get an education.
DK: If there was a student out there listening who is on this current track of a degree but not an education, what advice would you have to share with them to get on the right track of seeking out the bigger purpose behind a degree, which is an education?
HJ: First of all, think about the money that you’re wasting. Your mom’s money, your dad’s money, somebody’s money – you’re wasting it. Even if you got student loans, you’re wasting your
own money because you got to pay that back. That’s why I think a lot of students resent student loans so much, because they didn’t do what they needed to do with it. That’s a lot of money for someone to loan you and you misuse it. Then you’re mad because you got to pay it back because you can’t get the job because you didn’t get the education. That’s not the loan – and I hope that they do pass that forgiveness bill, don’t get me wrong – but I think that we have to take some ownership and some responsibility of what we get for that money. If someone’s listening, after you think about the money that’s being wasted, think about the time that you’re wasting, the energy that you’re wasting. Not just your time, but your professor’s time. You’re wasting a lot of energy for nothing if you don’t get an education. Think about what it is that you want in life, what do you want your life to look like when you’re 30? What do you want your life to look like in your 40s? I’m not talking about just the house and the cars and the family; I’m talking about what do you want internally, what do you – who do you want to be? Not ‘what do you want to be,’ but who do you want to be? Education teaches you that, a degree doesn’t. It teaches you what. I’m going to be a doctor or I’m going to be a school teacher, I’m going to be this; but who are you going to be? Two different questions.
DK: Two very different results.
DK: Well, you’ve certainly given a lot to think about, and also, a lot of good wisdom. Thank you very much for sharing it with us.
HJ: No problem.
DK: Thank you all back home for watching another edition of Saint Spotlight. Make sure to tune in for our next edition and, as always, see in the next one, bye-bye.