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My daughter, Mary Lee Holmes asked me to write my thoughts on the influences that the Southwestern Advantage experience has had on her life.

Mary Lee at this point in her life is planning on a legal career. As a second generation attorney and former District Attorney I know you cannot adequately represent a litigant if you are afraid of rejection.

This experience she has received will toughen her up to the cold realities of dealing with the public; how you learn not to accept rejection but to keep working to overcome it. The successes she experienced has broadly expanded her understanding of human nature, how not to take human feelings personally, and how to diplomatically persuade them to your point of view. This experience to a litigator or politician is invaluable. There's is no class room, horn book, or legal treaties that can teach this. If I was looking to hire a young a attorney for my practice, their experience and resume from Southwestern Advantage would be far more compelling to me than their grade point average, moot court, or law journal position, because we practice people more so than law. And people skills are far more important. It is my observation that Southwestern Advantage does an outstanding job in honing the skills of being a true people person.

From the time we are born, we all seek security. Being confident in our own ability to make it on our own is the biggest security builder. Nothing builds confidence like experiencing success.

Southwestern Advantage has given her the opportunity to do it on her own, rather than second guessing if daddy pulled some strings and wondering if she could not take full credit. She now has that confidence that only this type experience can produce.

Do I hate to see her fly from the nest? As much as I LOVE her you know the answer!

However for her sake I would not have it any other way. If you love them enough you have to encourage them to fly with their own wings. (It it heartbreaking to see 25-30 year olds who haven't been able to develop because their parents won’t turn them loose.)

Martin Luther King always said, "Give me an opportunity not a handout." And I appreciate the opportunity Southwestern Advantage gave Mary Lee to find out who she is, to develop her security, her confidence, and her people skills.

Thank you Southwestern Advantage for providing Mary Lee with this wonderful stepping stone for her journey through life.

Bud Holmes is a former District Attorney and also a former sports agent. His clients included the late great Walter Payton. Bud’s daughter Mary Lee finished her first summer with Southwestern Advantage in 2010 and is going on a second summer in 2011.

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