BY SEBASTIAN HUMBERT // MAY 15, 2012 //
Lauren Holmes was a little late for an appointment. She had just finished auditioning for the chance to sing the national anthem at this year’s graduation. It’s something she did at her high school graduation and Holmes wanted one last chance to be heard at Curry.
A native of Portsmouth, R.I., Holmes, 22, will graduate this month with a degree in integrated liberal arts studies, and a minor in music (otherwise known as: “I don’t know what I want to do,” she explained). She said she’s been interested in psychology, communication and most everything in between, but settled on integrated studies because its fits her perfectly: she wants to do everything.
But with graduation looming, Holmes said she would like to work with special needs populations and perhaps continue her studies in that area. Each summer, she works in Newport, R.I., taking care of a 25-year-old woman with Rubinstein–Taybi syndrome, a genetic disorder that impairs physical stature and mental capacity.
“It’s really hard, but really rewarding,” Holmes said of the job. Meredith, the woman she cares for, has the mental capacity of a 2-year-old and has difficulty walking since breaking her leg last year, she says. According to Holmes, the smallest achievements can often be the most meaningful.
“I like how I feel when I see a smile on her face,” she said. “I feel like, ‘Yessss!’ It’s like I’ve accomplished something…and that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Holmes, 22, said her other passion, singing, has a similar power to incite joy in others.
“I love seeing people smile,” she said, noting that her mother, Sharon, and her grandmother, Joann Mcgeown, were also singers. “The reaction I get after singing a song is my favorite part.”
A few years ago, Holmes met a Curry student who rapped and the two collaborated and recorded an album. One of their songs was even played at a wedding, she said. “It’s about a blue-eyed girl he used to like,” said Holmes. “It’s a romantic song, but better because it’s rap.”
It wasn’t even the first time her voice was part of a wedding. A few years ago, Holmes was asked to sing at a family friend’s wedding and banged out “I Hope You Dance,” by Lee Ann Womack. She said she received a standing ovation.
“It does not sound like a big deal,” Holmes said modestly, “but it’s very overwhelming.”
She recalled looking over at her mother, who was crying, which nearly made her cry, too. “It was kind of like the wind knocked me over,” Holmes said. “I was like, ‘don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry!’ ”
Here at Curry, her vocal talents certainly have gotten noticed.
“You can tell she’s highly trained, but naturally gifted,” said Samantha Valletta, a sophomore who has worked with Holmes in Curry Theater. “She is really talented.”
Although her undergraduate singing career is coming to a close—she performed in a recital on campus the last weekend of April—Holmes said she’ll continue to perform the rest of her life. Because like her work with Meredith, Holmes lives to make people smile.