This summer, 15 students from United’s service territory
turned in their best effort and cleaned up
$43,000 toward higher education.
United Cooperative Services helped another crop of 15 member-students advance their educational dreams in July when it presented $43,000 in scholarship awards during the cooperative’s annual scholarship banquet, hosted by the co-op for students and their parents at the cooperative’s Granbury Office Community Room.
When all was said and done, Sara Heinrichs, a student at Howard Payne University, emerged victorious as the top scholarship recipient. She earned $10,000.
Of the 15 scholarship awards, 12 were $2,000. The top three scholarship levels were for $10,000, $5,000 and $4,000.
The scholarship award program was created to encourage and assist in the educational pursuits of the co-op’s members and their families in its continuing pledge to support and reinvest in the communities it serves.
“United is more than the sum of its parts as an electric utility company,” United CEO Cameron Smallwood said. “One of our guiding cooperative principles advocates we show concern for community. And investing in the future of our communities by helping the young people we serve realize their higher education dreams is just one of the many ways we demonstrate that lasting commitment and that ideal.”
With this year’s scholarship awards, the cooperative will have staked nearly $1.5 million in college tuition funding for 960 deserving area member-students who were continuing their education. Winners are selected from among area-wide applicants based on their financial need, leadership, community involvement and school activities.
More than 20 years ago, United awarded its first scholarships to local high school students and returning college students. In 1997, new funds were made available by House Bill 3203, which allows nonprofit electric cooperatives like United to put unclaimed member dividend funds to use for student scholarships. This change in the law allowed United to recover a percentage of those assets previously lost to the state’s general revenue fund and reapply them toward certain, more regionally specific community needs throughout the cooperative’s service territory.
Smallwood told recipients that United doesn’t believe in handing out participation trophies—providing awards to everyone just because they showed up for a competitive event.
“Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you were given the scholarships you’re receiving from United today,” Smallwood said. “You earned them. You went through the process and you proved your excellence again, as you already have many times. And tests like these won’t end. You’re on a journey. You’re making many decisions on your own now. The choices you make today and going forward, whether good or bad, will determine your paths for the next 30-40 years. We hope you’ll accept God’s direction, along with these scholarships and our best wishes as you embark on your road to success.”