GOOD NEWS: Student looks beyond COVID to future success

MIDLAND When talking to Sydni Holder, one would think she is older than her 19 years. Her calm demeanor and logical outlook on life is more typical of someone 20 or 30 years older. Even her hobbies are those of an older person. She enjoys making candles, knitting, baking bread and making jewelry. However, like many young women her age, she admits to an obsession with The Bachelorette television show.
Holder graduated from Greenwood High School in May, 2019. While in high school, she was active in theater, student council, Interact Rotary Club and journalism. When she entered Midland College (MC) in fall 2019, she immediately became involved with Students in Philanthropy. She currently serves as the Public Relations chair for MC’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
“I have had the privilege to have Sydni in the classroom and to work with her in Phi Theta Kappa, Terri Gilmour, Government professor and director of the MC Honors Program, said. “She is an absolute dream student leader! Of course she is an excellent student, but her upbeat personality and her dedication to every endeavor she tackles is contagious to all around her. She is such an asset to Midland College.”
“I chose Midland College because of affordability and the many scholarships that are available,” she said. “In addition to Pell grant funding, I’ve also been awarded the Students in Philanthropy Scholarship, the Marian and Jan Jones Scholarship, and I was awarded a scholarship from the college’s general scholarship funded by the McGary Regan Foundation.
“I certainly have not regretted the decision to attend Midland College. I’ve gotten a quality education, and I love the MC community. The teachers and staff want to see students succeed. They are vested in my personal success.”
Gilmour is one of the faculty who Holder said has helped her the most.
“Not only is Gilmour a great teacher, but she is also a mentor,” Holder said. “She has good advice for everyday life.”
This coming May, Holder will graduate from Midland College (MC) and transfer to Texas Tech, where she will major in History. Her ultimate goal is to attend law school and become an attorney.
“I love history!” Holder exclaimed. “History is the study of the sum of human experience. It is concerned with the past and its present legacy.
“I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer. I’m a fan of true crime. My mom wanted to be a lawyer, but life happened, and it didn’t work out for her. I guess it’s in my DNA.”
Holder is the daughter of Sharon Holder of Midland and Chris Holder of Abilene. Sharon is a librarian at James R. Brooks Middle School in Greenwood, and Chris works in the oil and gas industry. Her younger sister Bradi is 16 and a junior at Greenwood High School.
Family is important to Sydni Holder. In fact, two days each week, she travels to Big Lake to care for her grandfather Jerry Floyd, which includes taking him to doctors’ offices and grocery shopping in nearby San Angelo.
The COVID pandemic hit Holder and her family hard. Her grandmother Billie Ruth Floyd contracted COVID in a long-term-care facility in Big Lake and passed away on July 7, 2020. In addition, Holder has not been able to find a part-time job. This past summer, she worked approximately 35 hours per week as a barista at a Big Bear Coffee Shop in Silverton, CO. When she returned to Midland, she found that there were no job opportunities available.
“I’ve had part-time jobs since I was 16,” Holder explained. “While I was in high school, I worked for Jason’s Deli and then last year, I worked at Smoothie King. When an opportunity arose for me to spend the summer in Colorado with family friends and work at their coffee shop, I was thrilled to be able to take it. I had no idea that when I returned to Midland I would have so much trouble finding a job.”
Holder said that she also struggled with online courses.
“I took all online courses last fall before the pandemic, and I missed the face-to-face interaction with other students and teachers,” Holder said. “So, I enrolled in all face-to-face classes for last spring’s semester. Then, the pandemic hit, and all my courses were converted to online. In the fall, a lot of people chose online courses because of the fear of catching COVID, but I preferred to just go ahead and enroll in the traditional face-to-face options. They work much better for me.”
One of her favorite classes this past fall was Physical Geology taught by Joan Gawloski.
“Sydni is a hard worker in the classroom and does quality work,” Gawloski noted. “She always goes the extra mile, and it’s all done with a smile!”
Despite the obstacles brought about by the pandemic, Sydni Holder still maintains a bright outlook for her future. As she enters her last semester at Midland College, Holder looks forward to a promising future at Texas Tech and then law school.