Enrichment Grant Report: Derrick Holman ’16

Derrick Holman ’16 was selected to receive an Enrichment Grant from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. With this grant, he attended the Landmark Forum, a personal reflection and development training, over winter break. You can read Derrick’s reflection below, read past grantee reflections here, and visit the PCSE website to learn more about all of our grant programs.

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I was first introduced to the Landmark Forum in the summer of 2015 when a friend invited me to a ‘graduation’ ceremony marking his completion of the forum. As he described it, the event sounded like a self-awareness boot camp during which participants were encouraged to take part in deeply personal conversations with complete strangers in an effort to improve their relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. I was admittedly skeptical, but accepted the invite anyway. 

For most of the ‘graduation,’ I wasn’t particularly sold and remained so up until the end when participants were given the opportunity to reflect on their experiences. Nearly a dozen of the participants approached the microphone to express how the forum had helped them confront various personal, emotional, and career-related obstacles they had been facing and how they had felt a more optimistic outlook on life as a result of the forum. I still wasn’t completely sold, but I thought it could be worth a try. However, the cost was prohibitive at the time so I put it out of mind until I heard about the PCSE grants a few months later.

After receiving the grant in the Fall, I registered for a forum in January. The forum spanned three grueling twelve-hour days with minimal breaks. We took part in a variety of group discussions, both large and small; we wrote letters confronting personal desires, as well as personal demons; we were encouraged to reevaluate relationships, and even called loved ones to apologize for past mistakes. By the end of the first day, I was emotionally drained and skeptical that the next two days would be worth it—almost 15 or 20 people left after the first. By the end of the three days, however, I was glad I participated. Over the course of three days we were encouraged to share our deepest fears, heartbreaks, goals, and aspirations with absolute strangers, yet, for whatever reason, it had a therapeutic effect. In my experience, I found the forum incredibly useful in that it helped – perhaps forced – me to deal with some of the emotional baggage and stress that I’d been carrying around, but more importantly, it helped me to recognize how relative our issues can be. It helped me to release some of the self-doubt I’d felt and to seek positive change in my own life and in the lives of those around me.

In a competitive environment like Wesleyan, it can be difficult to deal with emotional, and often painful, personal struggles while simultaneously trying to lead successful and meaningful lives and also hoping to positively impact the world. The Landmark Forum was, for me, a catalyst to confronting the fears and anxieties that hold us back from these aspirations, in a setting where I felt free from judgement. The forum helped me to improve my outlook on these situations. I would certainly recommend the forum for any students who feel they might benefit from such an experience.


Jennifer Roach is the Civic Engagement Fellow in Allbritton for the academic year 2015-2016. She is a recent Wesleyan alumni, class of 2014. Since graduating, she has moved to Hartford to continue developing Summer of Solutions Hartford, an urban farming internship program she worked on during her time at Wesleyan.