Can’t Take That From You

Operation Round Up funds educational and professional futures of 27 honorees

Wiregrass Electric Cooperative (WEC) member Cynthia Holderfield has several responsibilities she balances with her pursuit of a teaching degree from LibertyUniversity online.

Holderfield and her husband, Jamie, are the biological parents of two children, and they are in the process of adopting two children they have fostered for three years. Late last year, the couple also fostered a 14-year-old Guatemalan immigrant, who was pregnant.

The new baby arrived earlier this year, giving the Holderfields six children to oversee — all while they lead a student ministry at the sizable Memphis Baptist Church south of Dothan.

Holderfield recently gained an assist from WEC. The Operation Round Up (ORU) Charitable Foundation board awarded her a $2,000 nontraditional student scholarship, making Holderfield one of 27 to earn educational assistance this year through the program.

“Stories like Cynthia Holderfield’s are exactly why we instituted Operation Round Up,” says WEC Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro. “She and the 26 other winners seek to make a better life for themselves and their families. An educated workforce leads to greater opportunities for our area. What’s good for our area is what’s good for Wiregrass Electric.”

Holderfield identifies with WEC’s commitment to education. Communicating the importance of education to her children serves as a primary reason she resumed her collegiate journey 18 years after graduating high school.

“My kids are growing up. I want my children to see that an education is important,” she says. “Once you get your degree, they can’t take that from you.”

She began pursuing a college education after high school, but work commitments eventually took precedence. Then came marriage and children, and Holderfield focused on her responsibilities as a stay-at-home mother. Yet, she always felt the need to return to college.

“I knew I wanted to finish. I felt the Lord calling me to teach, and I felt insecure about not having a degree,” she says.

During the pandemic, Holderfield decided to pursue higher education. She began taking eight-week classes through Liberty University, an intensive process, and plans to complete her degree in 2022.

Holderfield applauds the ORU program for its support of nontraditional students like her, since most scholarships go to recent high school graduates.

“I honestly didn’t think I could get any other funding other than a Pell Grant,” she says. “We are very thankful for this scholarship. It is a huge lift for us.”

In addition to nontraditional scholarships, the ORU program awards funds to recent high school graduates and those pursuing lineworker certification through Wallace Community College.

Electric Cooperative Foundation Scholarship

Each year Wiregrass Electric Cooperative partners with the Electric Cooperative Foundation to fund one scholarship in addition to Operation Round Up awards. This year’s ECF winner is Emma Martin, of Slocomb High School.

2021 ORU Scholarship Winners

Traditional Scholarship Winners

Nontraditional Scholarship Winners

Wallace Community College Lineworker Scholarship Winners