If you read her course evaluations, a plethora of positive words and phrases are used to describe Eliza Holmes. “Wonderful,” “truly excellent,” “amazing,” and “the best teacher I’ve had at Harvard” are a few of the many glowing reviews from Eliza’s students. “Eliza makes the study of literature come alive for our students. She teaches them how to read, write, speak, and think with greater clarity and nuance. And she inspires them to become better readers, writers, thinkers, people,” says John Stauffer, director of graduate studies and Kates Professor of English and of African and African American Studies.

A theme that stands out in Eliza’s evaluations is the high level of student engagement. Eliza fosters a respectful, inclusive learning environment for her students, engaging them in class discussions. When she taught English 165 in fall 2019, students wrote about how they looked forward to class because Eliza kept them interested—and they took away a great deal from class. One student wrote “Nothing, and I mean nothing, I say will adequately convey the amazing educator, discussion leader, advisor, and evaluator that is Eliza Holmes. I looked forward to section every single week and left each section more inspired and thrilled about this literature than when I walked in, which was already pretty jazzed…”

Moreover, Eliza shows great and genuine enthusiasm for the course material—an enthusiasm that is easily contagious. “She was so excited by the texts we read that it was impossible to not feel the same way, and she challenged us and pushed us to think further while also always commending us for good ideas. She is my favorite teacher I’ve had at Harvard,” says one of her students from a junior tutorial course in spring 2018.

The departmental writing fellow is a critical position in the Department of English, and Eliza set the bar high with her extraordinary teaching record. Eliza’s course evaluations have ranged from 4.6 to 5.0 over five years of teaching six different courses, and this stellar performance has not gone unnoticed. Professor Stauffer wrote, “As I’ve said, in my 21 years at Harvard I’ve never before seen such glowing assessments of a teacher—from any department or subject.” When all is said and done, her seamless performance denotes her strong natural talent as an educator.

Eliza, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is pleased to present you with the Derek C. Bok Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching of Undergraduates. Congratulations!

Read more about the 2020 Bok Awards

Eliza Holmes: 2020 Derek C. Bok Award Citation