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Colo. shooting suspect applied to Texas A&M

University 'very impressed' by application

Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 18:09

Open records obtained by The Battalion revealed that Colo. shooting suspect James Holmes was a strong candidate for the neuroscience graduate program at Texas
A&M University.

Jacob Holmes is the suspected perpetrator of the July 20 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. The massacre left 12 people dead and 58 injured. It is considered the largest mass shooting in U.S. history and the most deadly shooting in Colo. since the Columbine High School massacre.

Included in Holmes’ application are a handful of letters of recommendation from Holmes’ professors at the University of California, Riverside; email exchanges between Holmes and the Texas A&M Institute for Neuroscience faculty members; an ApplyTexas application; an essay Holmes submitted to A&M and Holmes’s resume.

In Holmes’ application essay, he wrote he was passionate about neuroscience, which he said likely stemmed from his interest in puzzles as an adolescent.

“Rational people act based on incentives for self-fulfillment, including fulfilling needs of self-development and needs of feeling useful and helpful to others,” Holmes wrote. “I have always been fascinated by the complexities of a long lost thought seemingly arising out of nowhere into a stream of awareness.”

The neuroscience graduate recruiting committee at A&M invited Holmes to campus for an interview and social events. The committee said they were very impressed with his application and wanted to schedule a visit for March
6, 2011.

According to emails exchanged between A&M faculty and Holmes, Holmes withdrew from the application process March 1, only five days before he was scheduled to
visit campus.

In the final email, Holmes apologized to the faculty and said he would be pursuing other interests and wouldn’t be coming [to A&M] for a visit.

One neuroscience staff member at A&M said in an email it was too bad and Holmes should have been acted on sooner.

Holmes graduated from the University of California, Riverside, in June 2010 with a cumulative 3.949 GPA and a bachelor’s of science degree in neuroscience. Holmes scored a 1510 on his GRE — 90 points shy of perfect.

Holmes had previous work experience from several science laboratories in California and a job mentoring children at a summer camp.

Holmes’s professors at the UC Riverside, wrote nothing but praise for Holmes in their letters of recommendation to Texas A&M.

“I found James to be determined, hard working, while at the same time inquisitive,” a neuroscience lab professor wrote. “I would give James my strongest recommendation.”

A different professor instructed Holmes in a class that focused on neural processing and cognition and extensively discussed mental disorders.

“[Holmes] has proved to be a very effective group leader,” the professor wrote. “James demonstrated … that he is the top student and that he has a strong drive towards neuroscience.”

In his application essay, Holmes said he aspired to become a cognitive neuroscientist. Cognitive neuroscience, in its most basic sense, is the study of how chemicals in the brain interact to form the process of thought. Sometimes this study overlaps into psychology.

Holmes said he planned to continue performing research after graduate school in either academic or public sectors.

“My life-long goal is to increase the efficiency of how human beings learn and remember,” Holmes wrote.

Faculty from the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics at A&M could not be immediately reached for comment concerning the department's application process and details about cognitive neuroscience.

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