Brighton senior Carl Holm knows exactly what it takes to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds: courage, dedication and a complete unwillingness to blame others or feel sorry for yourself. Ever.
That’s how this Bengal with a 3.9 grade point average left his FLDS family and started high school at Brighton with a third-grade education. And that’s how, in a few years, he’ll be the first person in his family in generations to earn a college diploma.
“My biggest support has been the teachers,” Carl says of his accomplishment to be able to graduate this year, on time, with his peers. “That’s what’s made the biggest difference for me.”
Carl was reared in the polygamist enclave of Colorado City, Ariz. He went to a private school for the first few years of his education, but at the end of third grade, the school closed. His mother, who has an eighth-grade education, and his father, who finished correspondence high school, were unable to continue his education at home, so Carl tried teaching himself.
That worked until he became preoccupied with other interests and he stopped caring about school, he says. When Carl turned 15, he decided he didn’t want to follow his family’s FLDS footsteps. He decided to leave Colorado City and, according to his family’s beliefs, that meant he would never be welcome to return.
Even now, three years later, Carl’s contact with his family is extremely limited they speak rarely, only in exceptional circumstances but he holds no remorse or ill feelings. “I admire them because they are willing to stand up for what they believe, no matter what,” Carl says. “That’s kind of what I did, too.”
One of Carl’s uncles was willing to give him a home. So, on the eve of what would be Carl’s sophomore year, he moved to northern Utah and got to work making up what he had missed. He became closely acquainted with his counselors and teachers and surprised himself as he excelled at learning.
“Honestly, it’s kind of my life now,” Carl says. “I realized I was better at it than I thought I was. I just had really good experiences with all of my teachers and I really admired them and I wanted to show them the respect they deserved.”
Now, Carl is graduating with a 3.9 grade point average, with plans to start attending a college in Montana in the fall with a $15,000-a-year scholarship. And he doesn’t want to stop there. His next dream is to earn a master’s degree in engineering and work with race cars. “I’m the kind of person that I jump into something and I keep working at it until I’m done or completely out of time,” he says. “Quitting has never really been an option for me.”