September 22, 2023

A diamond emerges from rough life

Since childhood, Audris Holt has faced many hardships and abuses, yet remained strong and determined.

Today, her resiliency helps her with her job at the Florida Department of Corrections in Jacksonville and was a key reason her essay earned a CSU Learning Partner Scholarship.

The Learning Partner Scholarship features an essay contest in which employees/members of companies or organizations that partner with CSU can enter. The scholarship covers tuition for up to 24 months for one specific online degree program. Holt is a member of the National Sheriffs’ Association, a learning partner with CSU, and plans to pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice from CSU.

“I have been working since the age of 12. My first job was at a park across the street from the projects where we lived,” explained Holt, who was abused as a child and later struck out on her own at age 15. “I learned how to plant flowers, mix/pour concrete, and I painted parking spaces all for $50 a week.”

During this time, fate stepped in and she met a female cop that patrolled the apartments. “She became like a mother to me. The kids in the apartments use to tease me and call me the police. Little did they know, they were speaking right to my destiny.”

Holt’s love of law enforcement grew and led her to her current job in corrections.  She hopes to use her master’s degree to transition into management and assist the department in its primary focus of re-entry of convicted felons back into the community as productive citizens. She also hopes to teach and give back to her community.

“I also want to start a non-profit organization in my hometown that will allow under-privileged high school students interested in criminal justice the opportunity to participate in enrichment programs after school,” Holt explained. She hopes her group will also introduce them to the criminal justice field, allow them to gain experience, as well as cure any fears of law enforcement spurred by the violence in their neighborhoods.

Although she dealt with abuse in childhood and later domestic abuse as an adult, Holt’s remarkable optimism and desire to make a difference have given her more strength to pursue her master’s degree.

“I have gained a sense of normalcy in my life, and my dreams and passions have reignited.  Everything I have today, is a result of hard work and the desire to make a better life for myself and my daughter and break the generational curse that seemed to hover over my family.”

To learn more about the Learning Partner Scholarship, contact 888-785-3006 or

Pictured above: CSU education representative Amanda Ruggs, left, presents at Learning Partner Scholarship to Audris Holt.