His outstanding work as an Indiana University Kokomo nursing student gained him admission to IU's prestigious School of Medicine, where he begins classes in August.
He said IU Kokomo has more than prepared him for medical school.
"My professors taught me how to study," he said. "That's something I didn't learn in high school. They did a great job preparing me to succeed on the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), too. Knowing how to study and what to look for was hugely helpful. Each of my instructors contributed something."
Holley, from Wabash, previously earned an associate degree in nursing, and worked full time as a nurse while continuing school to earn his bachelor's. He appreciates the outstanding faculty at IU Kokomo.
"Everyone is more than willing to help you with anything, even professors you don't have in class," he said. "They actually know you and are invested in your success."
Holley is just one of IU Kokomo's recent success stories, with many graduates gaining admission to medical, dental, physical therapy, and pharmacy schools after earning their undergraduate degrees.
The campus is making it easier for these students to prepare for graduate success, offering pre-professional scholarships to top applicants, and is now expanding to offer direct-admit scholarships in nursing, education, and business. Each scholarship is worth $2,500, and includes a stipend for overseas study, a laptop computer, and research and mentoring opportunities with faculty, among other benefits.
Sarah McIlrath, from Rossville, said close interaction with faculty and small classes have been a key to her success. She graduated with a degree in biological and physical sciences in May, and earned admission to the physical therapy program at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Mich.
"You feel like you are part of a family, not just a student ID number," she said. "My physical therapy school application included a recommendation from Dr. Christian Chauret, dean of the School of Sciences. At a larger school, the dean would not have known me well enough to write a letter for me, and I would not have known him well enough to ask."
Like Holley, she feels ready for the rigors of a graduate program.
"My science classes have prepared me for the workload ahead of me," she said. "I studied tough subjects, and I learned to knuckle down and put forth the effort to get the grades I needed to accomplish my goals."
Allen Barton, Rochester, found IU Kokomo from the other side of the world, where he was serving as a missionary. He'd previously earned a degree in youth ministry, but decided, while working in an African orphanage, that he was being called into the medical field.
He hadn't taken science classes while earning his undergraduate degree, so he started looking for a campus near his wife's hometown of Rochester where he could take the classes he needed to get into medical school. He corresponded with Academic Advisor Cathy Barnes, who outlined how he could take the needed classes in two years.
"She made it easy to see what I needed to do," he said.
He was impressed with the individual attention students receive in the small classes at IU Kokomo. Sara Deyo, his chemistry lab supervisor, wrote him a letter of recommendation for medical school, and Marcia Gillette, senior lecturer in chemistry, helped him several times, even though he did not take her class.
"The professors are just as interested in you as a person as they are with you as a student," he said. "They are willing to take that extra step to invest in their students, and want us to succeed."
He finished the classes in May 2012. He had a 4.0 GPA and scored in the top 7 percent on the MCAT, earning admission to the IU School of Medicine in South Bend. He said that was a great accomplishment, as the medical school accepts less than 10 percent of applicants.
"It wasn't easy, but if a 33-year-old guy with three kids, coming out of a ministry background, can accomplish this, so can other IU Kokomo students, if they are willing to make the effort," he said. "The courses offered here, and the professors who invested in me, have prepared me for the rigors of medical school. I'm getting one step closer to the dream I've had for several years."
Students now in professional programs said their IU Kokomo degrees prepared them to succeed.
Christopher Hayes, Marion, is a student in the doctor of dental surgery (D.D.S.) program at the IU School of Dentistry, Indianapolis. He graduated from IU Kokomo in 2011with a degree in business management, while also taking pre-medical classes at IU Kokomo.
"A lot of the information I've learned in dental school I've already had a good background in, especially when we hit anatomy. There were many terms I'd already been exposed to."
The small classes at IU Kokomo meant his professors had plenty of time to be sure he understood concepts.
"If you are in an organic chemistry class with only nine students, you're not competing for information, you're not competing to learn," he said. "If there is a problem, if you don't understand a concept, you can go to a professor and get help. They aren't too busy to help you, and they care that you learn and are prepared."
Amy Wooten, Peru, gained admission to all four physical therapy programs she applied to, including her first choice, at IUPUI. She graduated from IU Kokomo in 2012, with a degree in psychology.
That major made her stand out from other physical therapy candidates, as most studied exercise science or athletic training as undergraduates.
"Psychology is also relevant to rehabilitation, because of all the mental barriers in that area," Wooten said. "I wanted to stand out among all the candidates, and I definitely did."
In addition to her academic transcript, her campus involvement at IU Kokomo helped her distinguish herself from other candidates. Wooten was in the psychology club, the pre-professional club, was a lab assistant, and participated in undergraduate research.
"Academically, you have to work really hard, but you can't just go to school and study," she said. "The PT programs like to see lots of extracurricular activities on your resume, and there were lots of options at IU Kokomo. They like to see an effort in everything you do as an undergraduate, not just in class."
She has successfully completed her first year of physical therapy school, and feels she was well prepared for the program's rigors.
"My first semester was really hard, but I was ready for it," she said. "Now I love it. It's just amazing."
For more information about pre-professional and direct admit scholarship opportunities, contact the Office of Admissions, 765-455-9217, or go to www.iuk.edu/directadmit.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.