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College student, leukemia patient at UH seeks to create mentoring program, send positive message

Posted: 4:07 PM, Jan 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-23 00:13:50Z

When you’re sick, it’s hard to want to do anything.

When you’re Nicholas Randall Holmes-McGowan — well, just let them try and stop you.

The 22-year-old Cleveland native was diagnosed with leukemia on July 11, 2017. He has been in a hospital room at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital ever since.

The diagnosis derailed his plans to graduate from Eastern Michigan University in April 2018, but his dream to do so and achieve even more? That’s still on track.

“I feel like there was so much pressure on me to graduate, like ‘You’ll be the first grandson to graduate college, you’ll be the first son to graduate college,’” Holmes-McGowan said.

So he works tirelessly from his hospital bed, his dreams within reach. Monday marked less than two weeks after receiving a bone marrow transplant from his brother.

His mom, Rhonda Jones, is by his side every step of the way.

“Because he has dreams, he has goals, and we are not going to let this stop him,” she said.

And while he waits to be well enough to finish his degree, Holmes-McGowan is also in the midst of creating a mentoring program for high school students, named after his initials N.R.H.M. It stands for “Nurturing Remarkable Healthy Minds” and aims to pair 9th to 12th graders with young men and women who will act as mentors and share life experiences.

His overall message is one of positivity, whether it applies to your car breaking down on the way to work or being diagnosed with heartbreaking cancer.

“Don’t be negative about it, like it's bad luck for you. No, there’s a purpose for it, there’s a reason for it. It’s so you can get to something else that you’re trying to get to,” Holmes-McGowan said.

So what exactly is he trying to get to, after he earns that degree?

“Remember this name. Nicholas Randall Holmes-McGowan is running for mayor in 2021 and then I’ll be running for president of the United States in 2032,” he said.   

Holmes-McGowan’s recovery time from the bone marrow transplant is six to eight weeks, but he said he wants to be home in time for Valentine’s Day.