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Nurse of the Week Kashon Holmes, RN is also our candidate for Father of the Year. Holmes had long dreamt of becoming a nurse. He had done his homework early and was keenly aware that school would require an intense commitment and focus. “I tell people nursing school will not be cheated on,” Holmes told a reporter. “You need to be 100 percent in, or it’s not going to work out.”
Back in 2002, Holmes was ready. Shortly after his first son, Kashon, Jr., was born, Holmes enrolled at Maria College School of Nursing in Albany, NY. However, while the young man was grinding away to prepare for his 2003 final exams, he realized that his calling should perhaps have been midwifery: yes, the stork was on its way to bring another little addition to the Holmes family. So, would he have to settle for being a distracted, part-time parent for the next three years? Having already missed out on some of Kashon, Jr’s first milestones, Holmes just didn’t feel like he could become a good nurse if he was an absent dad. Giving up the nursing program was a painful sacrifice, but he felt there was only one choice. “Knowing that I had to take care of my son and raise him and everything, that wasn’t a hard decision,” he says.
So, for the next 18 years, Holmes worked a variety of jobs, including security guard positions and—when things were especially rough—as a school hall monitor. But it was worth every moment he was able to spend with his sons, Kashon, Jr. and Jashon (both of whom had Dad as the coach of their high school wrestling teams). As the boys grew up, though, and started to graduate from high school, Kashon Holmes, Sr. still “felt a little incomplete.” He had more time on his hands, still yearned to be a nurse, and maybe it would be good for the boys to see Dad knuckling down to study for his Chem Lab tests: “I thought I could be a good example for them in the house, studying every day,” he told his local news station.
In 2017, 18 years after he’d had to withdraw, Holmes once again enrolled at Maria College to work toward his BSN. Then, in early 2020, he realized he’d be a graduate of the Nursing Class of Covid-19. The pandemic began filling New York’s hospitals—and essentially shut down all apparent opportunities for clinical hours. The astonishingly swift development of vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 luckily threw Holmes and his classmates a lifeline to graduation: soon, they were helping to vaccinate Albany and its environs. Kashon, Sr., now a Senior, quickly settled into his clinicals under the aegis of Nicole Pollay, the operations manager for a vaccine site at Hudson Valley Community College. Pollay recalls, “So many of them were nervous because they weren’t sure that they were going to be able to graduate until they were able to obtain those clinical hours.” The students’ gratitude for the opportunity, she said, “still gives me chills.”
Kashon Holmes, Sr. graduated on time in May 2021. The reaction of his youngest son, Jashon, must have made Holmes certain that his 18-year hiatus was worth every moment. “I feel proud of him,” said a teary-eyed Jashon. “He worked his butt off. He always was stressed, and like, he managed to do my wrestling and do school.” What greater tribute could a parent want?