Since graduating from Chatham Hall in 1995, D’Metriss Bannerman Holmes has been busy. Very busy.
“After Chatham, I matriculated to Babson College, the number one entrepreneurial college in America for twenty-five consecutive years where I graduated with honors with a dual major in entrepreneurial studies and marketing alongside an independent study minor in African American studies,” detailed Bannerman Holmes.
“Upon my graduation from Babson, I worked in event marketing for several years at an Omnicom subsidiary company, GMR Marketing, which counted Microsoft, Mercedes Benz, and Miller Brewing company as clients. Upon the Internet bubble burst, I shifted careers and became a New York City Public Schools teacher. I have now been teaching for more than seventeen years, primarily math for first through eighth grade. I earned my first master’s in elementary education from Mercy College and earned my second master’s in school building leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University. In my time off, I often freelance using my writing, marketing and event planning skills.”
Her life, full of varied interests and achievements, seems to mirror her time at Chatham Hall when she played Varsity Field Hockey, participated in Fall Plays, was a member of the Debate Club, served as Community Service President and co-editor of Iris; was a Student Council member, and sang with St. Mary's Choir. In addition to time management, her high school years taught her much that would influence the direction of her life.
“Three things at Chatham that influenced my life would be the lessons I learned about female empowerment, racism, and friendship,” she said. “Chatham Hall consistently encouraged female empowerment and opened my eyes to the marginalization of women that existed beyond race and socioeconomics as well as the power to which women should/could aspire. In particular, I recall an organization called ‘50/50 by 200’ which visited Chatham Hall to enlighten us that with women being 50% of the population we should make up 50% of the Congress. Their goal was to make this 50% representation a reality by 2000. Needless to say, that goal was not achieved. However, it exposed me to a level of government participation that I had not considered before. This experience was both enlightening and empowering.
“In contrast to the female empowerment nurtured at Chatham Hall, I also experienced racism unexpectedly and oftentimes covertly. As a girl who grew up in the melting pot of New York City, I didn't know how to recognize racism before Chatham Hall. Though not all, some treated me differently because I was Black. At the time, I was unaware of why I received such treatment but with experience, age, and wisdom it became clear that prejudice was the culprit. Nevertheless, I forged genuine friendships at Chatham Hall. These friendships, whether for a season or a lifetime, have taught me about my character and the value of a village. My most valued denouement of Chatham Hall are indeed my friendships.”
Bannerman Holmes also credits a variety of faculty members for influencing her life. Miss Wagoner, Sarge, Ms. Gibson, Mr. Wood, Dr. Black, Dr. Beal, Mr. Braun, Miss Hopkins, Mrs. Haymes, Mr. Haverstick, and Mr. Wall all influenced how she thought at different times and in different ways.
“If forced to choose just one, that title must go to Ms. Costa,” she said. “She was my Latin teacher and the dorm mother for the top floor of Dabney. She was a northern breath of fresh air that encouraged me to be myself, boosted my confidence, at times served as a surrogate mother, and in my last year at Chatham Hall served as one of my best friends. Her role in my life was right on time and critical to helping me find joy at Chatham and self-love.”
To those students thinking of attending Chatham Hall in the future, Bannerman Holmes has three pieces of advice.
“First, to quote Anonymous, ‘Life is like a camera. Just focus on what's important. Capture the good moments. Develop from the negative ones and if things don't work out just take another shot.’ The second would be to remember a quote from Mandela, ‘Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are valuable beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us... You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world.’ And my third piece of advice is to harness the power and pride of attending an all-girls school and allow it to propel you to be a woman that contributes to the world.”
Today, Bannerman Holmes shares the joy she found at Chatham Hall with her son, A'cher-Thomas.
“I am the mom of a six-year-old Black boy,” she said. “In the spirit of our Chatham Hall sisterhood, when you hear the term #BlackLivesMatter, know that it's not dismissing the lives of any other group but that it is remembering that your Chatham sisters of color and their children have been disproportionately treated in society as though their lives have less or no value at all. And when you say #BlackLivesMatter, you are joining with the disenfranchised part of your Chatham family of the past, present, and future to ask for equality for all. The same as I would join any fight to support in the equal treatment of any of my Chatham extended family.”