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SCC Launching Pad for Twin Brothers Pursuing Careers as Aerospace Engineers

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Surry Community College is an excellent place to start taking Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classes toward your degree in engineering, which is just what identical twins James and Jackson Holmes are doing.

The brothers have been on a similar educational path and plan to both become engineers following the footsteps of their older brother Harrison who is an aerospace engineer at Gurly Precision Instruments, a New York based company that does work for larger aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

“You think being an aerospace engineer sounds hard until someone else tells you about it,” Jackson said. “I decided to major in mechanical engineering, and I am really interested in aerospace.”

The brothers are in the Associate in Science degree program at SCC. They are taking as many general education classes as they can in math and science. They were both homeschooled until beginning college-level classes and graduated from high school in May 2020.

They plan to apply to UNC Charlotte and Auburn University where they might find themselves taking different paths while pursuing Bachelor of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering.

“It’s okay if we have to separate at that point. We have spent a lot of time together already. It might be time to split up,” James joked. He is the older brother by 32 minutes.

They are two of eight siblings who were also homeschooled through high school except the youngest sibling who is now attending a public high school. Sisters Priscilla and Victoria both attended SCC by taking college transfer courses before attending Appalachian State University. Priscilla earned a dietician’s license, while Victoria hopes to become a physician assistant.

The brothers grew up in rural Traphill in Wilkes County. Their parents, Benjamin and Helen Holmes, own and operate Mill Creek General Store in Mount Airy.

“Up until third grade our mom taught us,” said Jackson. “Then, we would just use the teacher’s manual and teach ourselves. In high school, we did have some online classes.”

James added, “When teaching yourself, the biggest challenge was staying on schedule.”

The brothers studied the Calvert homeschool curriculum. They enjoyed their homeschool experience and spent a lot of time working together to do homework. They also participated in local swim teams.

The transition from homeschool to community college was smooth for them.

“I was a little self-conscious at first, but it was an overall good experience. I have enjoyed it and learned a lot,” Jackson said. “I didn’t really like math when I was studying it at home. The teachers at Surry are really good and enthusiastic, and I decided that I liked math.”

By starting their bachelor’s degrees at SCC, they have saved money and had time to explore programs of study. They will also enter as juniors when they transfer to the university system.

“Surry is affordable, and you can take different classes to figure out what you want to do, and you can do this without paying university prices. I recommend students start out at Surry,” Jackson said. “I agree,” his brother added.

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