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Powerful Living


ATHome T


IN OKLAHOMA


International co-op employees from Iran, Malaysia and Mexico share how they came to call the Sooner State home


By Laura Araujo


he history of our great nation includes the stories of millions of immigrants who have traveled to America from around the world. To this day, people come to the United States, seeking opportunities that might not be available to them elsewhere.


Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives are proud to offer employment to people from diverse cultural backgrounds. The varied upbringings and worldviews they bring with them make Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives stronger organizations, better equipped to serve their members. Here are the stories of three of them.


Hamid Vahdatipour - Iran


Hamid Vahdatipour left the busy metro- politan of Tehran, Iran, as a young college graduate. His parents had saved up money for him to attend graduate school, and he traveled to the opposite side of the globe, landing in Oklahoma. After completing an English as a Second Language course, Vahdatipour enrolled in the MBA program at


Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. “Coming from the hustle and bustle of a major city with a few million people, the serenity and quietness of Tahlequah impressed me,” he says. After graduation, Vahdatipour enrolled in a post-graduate program at the University of Arkansas. It was during this time that he met his wife; the pair have now been married for 39 years. He attended briefl y and then decided to get a job. After working in a few different fi elds, he was hired on at Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) in Hulbert, Oklahoma. Vahdatipour started out as an accounting clerk. Over the next seven years, he worked his way to accountant, then to offi ce manager, and fi - nally to CEO, a position he has held for 26 years. “I have truly enjoyed my tenure at LREC. We have gone through some


challenging times and we have become a better and stronger co-op as a result,” he refl ects. One of the things Vahdatipour has enjoyed most about working for


Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives is learning about the cooperative busi- ness model.


12 WWW.OKL.COOP


“I really appreciate the reason co-ops exists, which is to provide the best service to their members at the lowest cost. We don’t worry about making profi ts, just paying the bills and making sure the co-op meets its fi nancial requirements to its lenders,” he says. “We’re not driven by the profi t motive.” He says working for a not-for-profi t organization has given him the opportunity to do something he loves—serve people. In addition to pro- viding electricity, Vahdatipour has led LREC in providing water to rural citizens for more than 20 years. Most recently, the co-op has invested in infrastructure to take fi ber-optic broadband internet to its members—the fi rst co-op in Oklahoma to provide this valuable service. “I consider myself fortunate that I was given the opportunity to immi- grate to America and enjoy the freedom offered by this country; I feel sad for thousands and millions of others who do not get this opportunity to enjoy a better quality of life,” he concludes. “I think a good portion of Americans don’t realize how lucky they are to have been born in this country and to enjoy what it offers them.”


Sylvia Ho - Malaysia Sylvia Ho grew up in Malaysia. Like


Vahdatipour, she came to the U.S. to pursue an education. “We didn’t have a lot of colleges back home at the time, so people would go abroad,” she explains. She traveled to Oklahoma, where her oldest brother was living, and enrolled in the computer science program at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in


Chickasha. After graduation, she worked for almost 16 years in the IT fi eld.


Last year, a job opening at Western Farmers Electric Cooperative


(WFEC) in Anadarko, Oklahoma, propelled her onto a new career path. “I love it,” she says of her position as realtime senior systems analyst


at the co-op. “The work environment is good, the people are nice, and we are cared for well. We are like a family.” She says one of the most rewarding aspects of the job has been working


in a not-for-profi t industry where the focus is on serving members. WFEC generates and transmits electricity for 21 distribution


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