Family Member, U.S. President Counted Among Employees’ Personal Heroes

In observance of African American History Month, PJM employees volunteered to gather and share information about their personal heroes. Look for additional postings from more PJM employees throughout the month.

Risa Holland, client manager – Member Relations

Holland’s grandmother, Mrs. Lula B. H. Odum, is her personal hero.

“I believe my craving for knowledge began with the stories my grandmother told me as a child,” Holland says. “I remember how she read to me, and my siblings, my cousins and many other children that somehow always made a way to her home. By her example she taught many women in my family how to be strong and persevere. She not only touched our lives but the lives of so many other children as she taught and encouraged them to go on to greater things. Although “MaDear” is not famous, I feel that her contribution to my family, her community and to society have made her my hero.”

Holland shares the following history about her grandmother:

On July 14, 1906, a baby girl was born to Jonah and Jessie Hall in Webster County, Ga. As a child, on a family farm, the tasks assigned to her were many and varied. “MaDear” always told everyone that she had a hard life but a good life.

Education for young African American children was not a priority; however, due to her intelligence, “MaDear” learned and began teaching other African American children of various age groups in a one-room school house at age 17. She completed her house work and farm work, then would walk three miles to teach at the school.

At age 35, “MaDear” went to college and graduated. She continued to teach, mother, nurse, counsel and help all of her students until she retired in 1971.

Andrew Wanjalla, co-op – Corporate Applications

President Barack Obama inspired me to believe that in life no dream is impossible as long as you dedicate yourself, have a clear compelling vision and believe in your abilities,” Wanjalla said.  “He defied the odds and made history by becoming the first African American president to be elected to office. This set a new benchmark for what is achievable by the African American community.”

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