Harold and Hermena (Parks) Holigan, both Southeast Missouri State University alumni, have been named the 2023 Friends of the University by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation.
They will be honored with the award as part of the annual President’s Council Dinner Friday, March 24 at the Show Me Center.
The Friend of the University award is the highest honor bestowed by Southeast. It recognizes those who support and who are closely associated with the mission, purposes, plans and programs of the University. The Holigan’s selection honors their long-time commitment to education in southeast Missouri and their generosity to Southeast Missouri State,
“The impact that Harold and Hermena have on student lives every year is tremendous,” said Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University. “Their generosity has been instrumental in helping the University better serve the region and helping our students receive a college education. On behalf of the entire institution, I cannot thank them enough for their continued interest in bettering student lives and bettering our campus.”
Both Harold and Hermena Holigan grew up in Puxico, Missouri. The two attended Southeast Missouri State University for their college education after graduating from Puxico High School in 1959. Harold stayed for two years before transferring to the University of Missouri-Columbia to finish a degree in electrical engineering. Hermena earned a Bachelor of Science in vocational home economics in 1963.
“I think what makes SEMO unique is that it’s a golden opportunity for kids to do extremely well,” Harold said. “They can change their family history dramatically by getting a degree.”
From Southeast, the couple moved to New York where Harold was employed with AT&T. After several years of success, Harold decided to start his own business. Just A Math Problem (JAMP) Enterprises, LLC was founded in 1982 in Dallas, Texas. JAMP focuses on residential real estate, including operations in manufactured housing, home building, land development, land banking, propery management and technology. The company has developed more than 100,000 residential lots, constructed more than 8,000 homes and built more than 60 manufactured home communities across the country.
“We were probably the poorest family in Puxico growing up, and I worked almost every single day. Now we have a business I run with my son, and I couldn’t have guessed it if I had tried back then.”
Through the career successes and family life with three children, Harold and Hermena have stayed extremely involved with Southeast. Both are members of the President’s Council and they have made it a priority to give back to the University and to the town of Puxico.
“None of it would have happened without SEMO,” Harold said. “That’s why we take an interest in helping as much as possible.”
The Holigan Family Scholarship was established through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation and is awarded to students who are graduates of Puxico High School. Students must have a 2.75 grade point average and pursue an undergraduate degree at Southeast.
The money from the scholarship helps students meet educational needs after other scholarships and funds. This can go towards leftover tuition or to things like fees, books, and supplies.
So far, the scholarship has helped fund the education of 84 students from Puxico High School.
“I think what we’re doing is giving them a chance to do well in the future, just like Hermena and I were able to do well,” Harold said.