The excitement was palpable at United’s Scholarship Banquet.
In the end, 16 young adults would receive praise for
their academic achievement and their part of $48,000.
Carmen Kuiper said she was overjoyed when she heard her name announced as United’s 2023 top scholarship recipient.
“With United’s scholarship, I’ll be able to stop dedicating so much of my time to worrying about how I will pay for my education,” Kuiper said. “United’s scholarship will allow me to take on the full college student experience and have more time to study.”
To uphold the continuing commitment of supporting the communities it serves, United Cooperative Services helped advance the educational dreams of 16 deserving area students on July 20 by awarding each of them with a portion of $48,000 in scholarship funds.
The scholarship awards, which were established to support the educational goals of the co-op’s members and their families, were presented during the July 20 banquet held at United’s Granbury Office.
“Cooperative principle number seven encourages United to show concern for the community,” said Brealee Toomer, United marketing and public relations specialist and scholarship coordinator.
“As a former top scholarship recipient and now United employee, I can attest that our scholarship program demonstrates support and generosity for the young people we serve.”
The co-op awarded its first scholarships to local high school students and returning college students more than two decades ago. 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 legislation 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.
Including this year’s scholarship awards, the cooperative will have staked approximately $1.4 million in college tuition funding for more than 1,000 deserving area member-students pursuing higher education. Recipients are chosen from area-wide applicants based on leadership and community involvement, financial need and school engagement.
“United is always amazed by the exceptional group of students who apply for our scholarship program each year,” said United CEO Cameron Smallwood. “This year’s students exemplified great maturity, talent and academic responsibility. We wish them all success, and we hope these scholarship awards support them in accomplishing many more achievements in the future.”
With United’s recent milestone of meeting 20,000 internet subscribers, the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) wanted to commemorate the occasion, Smallwood said. The 2023 scholarship awards were extended to a 16th recipient on behalf of NRTC when it donated an additional $5,000 toward the cause.
Of the 16 scholarship awards, 12 were in the amount of $2,000. The remaining top four scholarship levels were for $10,000, $5,000 and $4,000 respectively.
$10,000 Winner—1st Place
Carmen Kuiper—Hico Secondary (Hico)
$5,000 Winner—2nd Place
Joseph Briseño—Lingleville High School (Dublin)
$5,000 Winner— 3rd Place
Kassidy Langley—West Texas A&M University (Hico)
$4,000 Winner— 4th Place
Baili Deaver—Hardin Simmons University (Tolar)
Davis Nix—Tolar High School (Tolar)
Valantina Kilgore—Joshua High School (Joshua)
Adrian Saucedo—Bluff Dale High School (Bluff Dale)
Danielle Ibarra—Keene High School (Cleburne)
Graciela Beltran—Grandview High School (Grandview)
Christopher Smith—Burleson Centennial High School (Burleson)
Krizln Van Patten—Granbury High School (Granbury)
Jacquelyn Villasenor—Alvarado High School (Alvarado)
Trinity Leal—Stephenville High School (Stephenville)
Melissa Osornio—Stephenville High School (Stephenville)
Jaden VandenBerg—Tarleton State University (Dublin)
Elizabeth Scott—Clifton High School (Clifton)