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Tri-County Electric Cooperative was honored for its investment in the University’s electrical system in February, 2010. Photos courtesy of OPSU Communications/Laura Nelson


By JuliAnn Graham G


oing to college after high school may seem like a pretty standard step for many high school graduates. For oth- ers, it’s a dream they’re not sure how to re- alize because no one in their family has at- tended before. Finding the means to attend a four-year university can be a challenge for students like Yessica Martinez of Boise City, whose parents did not attend college. Martinez said the scholarship she received from Tri-County Electric Cooperative helped her to attend her local four-year univer- sity, Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU) in Goodwell.


“I received a couple scholarships but the one from Tri-County Electric was the fi rst in my account and allowed me to confi rm my class schedule,” she said. “I was thankful it was there.”


Martinez said she chose to attend OPSU over other colleges because she’s a small town girl and wanted to stay close to her family. “I really enjoy going to OPSU,” Martinez said. “My teachers are always there if I need help. Their doors are always open. That was a big deal for me.” While she lived on campus her freshman year at the University, she plans to live in her hometown of Boise City and commute to school her sophomore year. She currently works at the La Mesa restaurant in Boise City. Martinez is majoring in nursing and minoring in physical education and coaching. After col- lege, she plans to stay in Boise City if possible. Tri-County Electric has been helping stu- dents realize their dream of attending OPSU for many years.


“Our cooperative has partnered with OPSU since we were founded in the 1940s,” Zac Per- kins, corporate services vice president at the cooperative, said. “We have a shared mission to enhance the quality of life for the people in


our communities so it’s a natural fi t.” Funding scholarships for students to attend OPSU is one of many ways Tri-County Elec- tric partners with the University. Tri-County Electric received the State Regents Economic Development Partnership Award in 2007. In 2009, the same year the University celebrated 100 years, Tri-County Electric was recognized by the Panhandle State Foundation as a dis- tinguished contributor.


“Tri-County Electric is involved with almost every aspect of the University,” OPSU Presi- dent David Bryant, Ph.D. in Range Manag- ment, said. “It helps with academic programs, scholarships, the Community Service Learn- ing Project, athletics and even our infrastruc- ture. It’s hard to list everything the coopera- tive does.”


Bryant said an example of the cooperative’s support for the University is its 2009 contri- bution of $50,000 to aid the construction of the University’s Science and Ag building. The lobby and the patio of the building are dedi- cated to the cooperative. In 2010, he said the cooperative invested an estimated $3 million in the electrical infrastructure to help with re- liability of the campus infrastructure as well as campus aesthetics.


The University is nestled near the center of the Oklahoma Panhandle—fi lling an impor- tant niche in the community. Students like Martinez are able to live and work in their hometowns and commute to the University for classes. Online courses are another popu- lar option for students who may not other- wise attend college. The University’s Guymon Classroom, an extension of the University in the largest community of the Panhandle, of- fers many continuing education and other courses designed to fi t the needs of the com- munity. It also serves as a resource for other groups in the community to use when they need classroom facilities for training or meet- ings.


Beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, the


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