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Class of 2014 Success Stories: A drive to help others

Dez Holbert works to help the smallest victims

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By Jen Sobolewski

When Dez Holbert was in preschool she often came home missing her socks. Her mother kept asking her where they went, but Holbert said she always told her mother she didn’t know. Eventually, the little girl confessed that she gave her socks to a kid who came to school without them.

It’s that drive to help others that has shaped Holbert’s entire life. The Westerville, Ohio, native will graduate from Bowling Green State University with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS). She plans on becoming a forensic interviewer for the FBI, working with severely abused and neglected children.

“A forensic interviewer will talk to the child and figure out what happened to them in the least traumatizing way,” she explained. “They give their report to a doctor and the court. It’s basically a way of not having the child have to go through that process.”

Holbert said her mother and grandfather instilled in her from an early age a love of service to the community and led by example.

“My mom hands out care packages to prostitutes, so service has always been a part of my life. Since I was 8 years old I’ve wanted to work with abused and neglected children.”

Even as she got older, Holbert’s innate ability to identify children in need never waivered. “I was always aware of other people. My mom said I would take a box of popsicles and feed the entire neighborhood.

“I can remember a specific child in elementary school whom I was always so concerned about,” she said. “I remember he would get in trouble a lot. I was in gifted and talented, and they didn’t want me to talk to him and told me to stay away from the ‘bad kid,’ but I was so worried about him all the time. He couldn’t check out library books because they thought he wouldn’t return them, but because I was in gifted and talented I could check out more than one. So, I would take him to the library and he would pick out a book, read it and give it back to me. My book history was filled with stories about cars and trucks and Judy Blume books.”

That strong sense of needing to help those who cannot help themselves carried into Holbert’s choice of an internship this academic year. After looking through the list of options provided by HDFS, she realized none of them really interested her. Michael Sturm, an instructor in HDFS, pointed her in the direction of the Lucas County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which handles the most extreme cases of child abuse in the county.

Holbert interned there in the fall and spring semesters and graduated with CASA certification in February. Although she wasn’t directly involved in a case, she did handle a lot of the research. “We advocate for the child’s best interest. We are the voice for the child,” she explained.

After commencement, Holbert will head south for graduate school at the University of South Florida, where she hopes to continue her work as a special advocate in the court system there.

The President’s Leadership Academy scholar has made the most of her four years at BGSU. She is part of Delta Gamma sorority and was the vice president of scholarship for Panhellenic Council. She was a resident adviser in Centennial Hall, where she met her fiancé, and has served as a teaching assistant. She also was part of the committee that helped rewrite the curriculum for HDFS.

She also works in the admissions office and was a member of the 2013 Homecoming Court.

“I’m very excited to graduate. The four years flew by, but at BGSU I’ve met my bridesmaids, my future husband, some of my best friends, and professors that have really shaped me. BGSU will always be my home and always be the place that started the rest of my life.”