Scholarship enables Hollifield to continue serving others
Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, David Hollifield has already served his country in the Army National Guard. He wants to continue his legacy of service, and a new scholarship is helping him achieve his goals.
Originally, Hollifield thought he would go into construction management, since many in his family work in that field. But when he saw a family member and several friends get involved with drugs, he wanted to find a way to help.
“I’ve seen a lot of people mess their lives up, even go to jail, and I want to try to keep others from going down that road,” he said. “Plus, after joining the Army, I realized I like that kind of active life, and I can use that to help the community, too.”
Hollifield enrolled at Georgia Gwinnett to major in criminal justice. He plans to pursue a career in law enforcement, first at the local level with city or county police. His long-term aspirations include eventually working in federal law enforcement with the U.S. Marshals Service and possibly an advanced degree.
On top of a college student’s typical challenges, Hollifield has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and tinnitus from his field artillery service in Afghanistan. While he doesn’t let it stop him, he said it does add a layer of stress.
“I have memory problems sometimes, especially with short-term things. Sometimes I’ve missed a class because I forgot that I had it, or I’ve had trouble turning assignments in on time,” he said. He uses multiple alarms on his phone to keep track of classes and other tasks. Hollifield’s brother, who served in Iraq, also suffers from PTSD, and Hollifield spends a lot of time helping him.
Like many students, paying for college also has been challenging.
“I’m eligible for help through the GI Bill, but it only covers about 50 percent, so I’ve had to find ways to cover the other 50 percent somehow,” Hollifield said. He has taken out student loans, and he qualified for the HOPE Scholarship last semester, which helped to a point.
Then Hollifield became the first recipient of the Lee and Marshall Boutwell Veterans Scholarship, which supports full-time students who maintain a GPA above 2.0. Preference is given for demonstrated financial need and affiliation with the U.S. military, prioritized first for service-wounded/ disabled veterans, veterans with combat service, any veteran or dependent children of veterans.
Hollifield said the scholarship provided him the opportunity to work toward his goals.
“The scholarship means not having to worry about how I am going to pay for school or how I’m going to pay back loans later. It’s very helpful to be able to focus on just school.”
He said the scholarship was especially helpful last semester, allowing him to take a criminal justice class that included travel to London for a week.
“The GI Bill only covers tuition for that class, but because of the scholarship I was able to cover all my tuition, plus the plane ticket and other expenses for the study abroad trip, without having to take out a loan,” he said.
In a letter to the Boutwells after receiving the scholarship they generously endowed through the GGC Foundation, Hollifield wrote, “It means a great deal to me to finish my first degree and continue my education even further… This scholarship is no small token in my mind.”
Marshall Boutwell said of Hollifield, “His heartfelt appreciation reaffirmed that we did the right thing in establishing this fund. We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to David, and his brother, for serving our country.”
Read more about the college, its student and alumni in GGC's Engage Magazine.