Faculty & Staff Honors, Press Releases

Holmes Receives 2021 Myrna Miller Wellons Advocate of the Year Award


The National Association of Social Workers North Carolina Chapter (NASW-NC) has awarded Marbeth Holmes, LCSW, LCAS with the 2021 NASW-NC Myrna Miller Wellons Advocate of the Year Award. Holmes serves as Nash Community College’s Dean of Student Success. She was selected for this award by the NASW-NC Legislative Committee because of her passion and advocacy for helping individuals from diverse backgrounds seek higher education and achieve their educational dreams. Her innovation and drive to see NCC students succeed has made her a leader across the state.

Holmes attended the Distance Education Program at UNC-Chapel Hill, graduating in 2014 with her Master of Social Work. Throughout her education, she remained a full-time educator at Nash Community College. Upon graduating, she created the Student Wellness Center at NCC. She later became the center’s director and was then promoted to Dean of Student Success for the College. In her current role, she oversees the Student Wellness Center, Library Services, Student Engagement, Advising Services, and the Career and College Promise program that affords high school students the opportunity to earn college credits.

Many of the students seeking support from the Student Wellness Center are first-generation college students, members of the military, are justice-involved or have other life experiences that often make obtaining education difficult. Students come to the Center in need of Single Stop and clinical services which include crisis intervention, counseling, Collegiate Recovery, support groups, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and more.

“Marbeth is an invaluable member of Team Nash,” NCC president Dr. Hunnicutt said. “Her commitment to student success goes much further than the attainment of a credential. She is dedicated to the total well-being of all students, and I speak for our entire team when I say well done Marbeth, and congratulations on this prestigious award!”

Ms. Holmes has a track record of supporting students as they complete their educational goals and has led the efforts to leverage resources in excess of $5.5 million for students through the Single Stop poverty alleviation program. Under her leadership, employees of the Student Wellness Center attended an event at the White House celebrating their completion of the 2016 White House Healthy Campus Challenge in 2017. Additionally, the center was awarded the 2016 Ambassador Award for providing outstanding representation of the campus on local, state, and national levels. In 2018, Holmes received the Nash Community College President’s Cup, the highest honor the College awards.

“Ms. Holmes has shown that she will stop at nothing to bring not only necessary supports to students, but also the love, compassion, respect, and the tenacity of a true social work advocate. She does this through empowerment, teamwork, and with social work values at the forefront of her efforts and organizational policy change. I am so proud to have watched Marbeth’s career flourish since graduating with her MSW. She has created culture change for the community college system and surrounding community,” said Lisa de Saxe Zerden, MSW, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean for MSW Education at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work.

Holmes says she “truly believes education is a bridge to privilege. Whether a skilled trade certificate or an advanced graduate degree, education is transformative. Establishing the Student Wellness Center has been the highlight of my professional career, supporting students holistically through trauma-informed, resiliency-building care, which has become an evidence-based model of success. Students who experience unmet basic needs such as food and housing insecurity, mental health challenges, or disenfranchisement are especially vulnerable, so providing comprehensive wraparound supports clearly empowers the success of our students and the attainment of their academic goals.”

She will receive the 2021 NASW-NC Myrna Miller Wellons Advocate of the Year Award at the virtual NASW-NC Social Work Ethics Conference and Awards Celebration on Friday, March 19, 2021.

The National Association of Social Workers North Carolina (NASW-NC) is a membership organization of professional social workers in North Carolina. NASW promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.