New Grad Earns UT Architecture Degree While Also Completing ROTC

Studying architecture is demanding. Studying architecture while being in the ROTC is—pun intended—a military regimen.

Brice Holmes working on Freedom by Design project

Brice Holmes works on Freedom by Design project. Freedom by Design is a service organization that encourages students to use their architecture and design talents to help people in the community.

Brice Holmes, of Lacassas, Tennessee, graduates today from the College of Architecture and Design. He is also being commissioned as an officer in the student ROTC program.

“Architecture and the military actually have a lot of overlaps,” Holmes said. “I believe being good at one makes me better at the other. Just as my time in the military is a service to my country, I feel being an architect can be a service to my community.”

Still, juggling both required some serious time management.

“I tell people architecture school is the hardest thing I’ve done so far. Harder than any of my military training thus far, actually,” Holmes said. “My professors have always been understanding when I had training and had to miss class. My unit was understanding of my school commitments. It is a lot of give and take, and I couldn’t have done it without the help and understanding of both my unit, the ROTC program, and the College of Architecture and Design.”

holmes in uniform

Holmes is graduating from the College of Architecture and Design. He is also being commissioned as an officer in the student ROTC program.

Holmes enlisted as a private first class in the Army National Guard during his sophomore year. He spent the following summer in basic training.

“Being in the military was something I always knew I wanted to do, even before I knew I wanted to be an architect,” he said. “When I got back from training, ready for my junior year, I realized I could do ROTC while also getting my degree. It only made sense. I could maximize my time while trying to achieve two of my major dreams: becoming an Army officer and getting my architecture degree.”

As busy as classwork and ROTC activities kept him, Holmes also managed to work with Freedom by Design, a service organization in the college that encourages students to use their architecture and design talents to help people in the local community.

“Freedom by Design finds clients who are recently disabled and don’t have the means to improve their home. We talk to the client, find out their needs, and design and build additions to their home to improve their lives,” he said.

“I love making a positive impact in people’s lives, and I remember each and every client we’ve ever helped,” he said. “One client, Miss Barbara, took a liking to me one spring. Her late husband had been in the military, and she treated me like a son. She cried the day we finished her project, and I’ll never forget how happy she was that we came along.”

Holmes will spend next fall working at a Knoxville architectural firm. He then leaves for a six-month basic officer course in Fort Benning, Georgia.

“Five years down the road, I hope to be an executive officer at my unit and still be practicing architecture,” Holmes said. “My dream job would be to own my own firm while teaching architecture part time at UT— and maybe even be a professor of military science in the ROTC program at the same time.”

CONTACT:

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)