Blue Devil of the Week: Making Wellness a Habit

QuiAnne’ Holmes makes well-being a part of daily life on campus

QuiAnne' Holmes, assistant director of programs at DuWell, works to make wellness part of the routine for Duke students. Photo by Stephen Schramm.
QuiAnne' Holmes, assistant director of programs at DuWell, works to make wellness part of the routine for Duke students. Photo by Stephen Schramm.

Name: QuiAnne’ Holmes

Position: Assistant Director of Programs, DuWell

Years at Duke: 2

What she does at Duke: The overarching goal of QuiAnne’ Holmes’ work with DuWell, the student wellness unit within Duke Student Affairs, is to inspire not just students but all members of Duke’s campus community to make nourishing well-being part of the daily routine.

Based out of the Duke Student Wellness Center, QuiAnne' Holmes helps design and organize programs that promote mindfulness among Duke students. Photo by Stephen Schramm.Taking opportunities to build resilience and learn how to maintain balance are helpful in handling handle these stressors. That’s where Holmes comes in. Much of her role is devoted to organizing free workshops and programs – such as the Moments of Mindfulness series – that give Duke community members opportunities throughout the year to hone coping skills and relieve stress.

A certified instructor of Koru meditation, Holmes occasionally leads sessions in the Student Wellness Center. She also conducts group health coaching workshops and collaborates with students, faculty and staff to produce tension-relieving events such as weekly magic workshops hosted by a student and occasional encounters with puppies from the Canine Cognition Center.

“It just about providing ways to find joy in the present moment, which is the ultimate piece of mindfulness,” Holmes said. “It’s not just about meditation, it’s about creating daily habits. And it’s not just one thing, it’s really about giving people an opportunity to see what tools work in their toolkit and then having the autonomy to say ‘I’m taking care of myself no matter what, and I don’t need a crisis to arise in order to do it.’”

What she loves about Duke: Holmes said she appreciates the constant exposure to new ideas and perspectives she gets from Duke’s diverse student populations. She said Duke’s students are always ready to offer fresh insights into what they’re facing and how her work can help.

“There’s never a dull moment,” Holmes said. “There’s always something they say that can resonate with me, or challenge me to unlearn things I may have learned before, and just keep an open perspective. I’m really grateful to have that.”

Best advice received: When she was working toward her master’s degree in education at Clemson University, a mentor once told her to “create your village of people and surround yourself with them.”

To Holmes, that meant being intentional about cultivating a circle of people in her life who support her, who challenge her and who she can find comfort in. By building a strong village, she can handle adversity and stay grounded.

“But there’s another side to that, you also have to turn inward to see what your role is for other people,” Holmes said. “You don’t just want to just take, you also want to give.”

In QuiAnne' Holmes' office, a whiteboard encourages visitors to leave positive thoughts in the nearby jar. Photo by QuiAnne' Holmes.Something unique in her workspace: Holmes has a whiteboard message asking visitors to write down words of affirmation on nearby slips of paper and drop them into a jar.

“I have quite a few little trinkets in my jar,” Holmes said. “I pull them out if I’m having a rough day.”

Lesson learned during the pandemic: Holmes trained to be a meditation instructor. She said that the process, which involved learning how her breath, body and mind can work in harmony to make her more mentally present, underscored the importance of differentiating what she has control over and what she doesn’t.

“The biggest thing was really focusing on being as present as possible and taking as much control as I can, but not allowing the agency of the pandemic to take control,” Holmes said.

During a trip to Colombia, QuiAnne' Holmes indulged her love of adventure by doing things such as parasailing and cliff diving, seen here. Photo courtesy of QuiAnne' Holmes.Something most people don’t know about her: While Holmes appreciates the value of spending time in calm, quiet reflection, she also likes a good adrenaline rush. She can rattle off a long list of heart-pounding activities she’s tried, such as parasailing, mountain biking, cliff-diving and riding just about every roller-coaster she’s come across. As someone who admits that she likes to be in control, she said these experiences force her to relinquish it.

“When I’m doing these things, I just have to sit in this uncertainty for however long it takes and enjoy the moment,” Holmes said. “It’s a silent reminder that things are going to be OK and you can just enjoy something.”

Is there a colleague at Duke who has an intriguing job or goes above and beyond to make a difference? Nominate that person for Blue Devil of the Week.