51st Wallace State Community College Commencement

by | May 13, 2017 | Blount, City News, County News, Cullman, Cullman Tonight, Get Smart, Hanceville, People, Students

51st Wallace State Community College Commencement

There is nothing quite like a full house at Tom Drake Coliseum, particularly on commencement night.

Wallace State Community College in Hanceville celebrated it’s 51st-anniversary graduation and commencement Friday evening. 500 students took part in the larger ceremony with right at 1,300 earning degrees or certificates issued in the 2016/2017 school year.

Wallace State President Vicki Karolewics, beaming much like a proud parent, was her usually inspiring, insightful self at the podium in front of a maximum capacity (6,000 people) crowd of students, faculty, administrators, families and friends of the college.

Dr. Karolewics arranged for several for several Wallace State alumni, Cullman area dignitaries, and local elected officials to be very special guests at the ceremony.

The special platform guests included:

Rep. Randall Shedd
Nicole Lindon – WSCC alumna
Kelci Tuggle – Wallace State Student Government Association President

Steve James, the founder of the international relief organization, Kenya Relief, received a special Distinguished Alumni Award.

James was among five male students in the college’s first graduating nursing class of twenty-five students back in 1975. After his graduation from Wallace, he became a certified registered nurse anesthetist.

His remarkable next 30 years brought great success in his chosen field before he retired and formed Kenya Relief.

He began KenyaRelief.org, with a small orphanage in Migori, Kenya. This facility has grown to serve nearly 200 children today, many who continue to be AIDS orphans. His organization has expanded to include a private K-7 elementary school, and the Kenya Relief Academy, which now educates 500 students each year with a waiting list to serve more. Kenya Relief’s Brase Vision and Medical Clinic, the most modern medical facility in the area, has treated more than 115,000 patients to date with thousands more served each year.

Since opening its doors in 1966, Wallace State has educated hundreds of thousands of students. Tens of thousands have had degrees earned.

Awesome Wallace stat line: Wallace State Community College produces more graduates than any other institution in the Alabama Community College System and is known for its reputation for excellence as one of the most outstanding community colleges in the nation.

As has become a tradition during commencement, Dr. Karolewics shared the stories of several students who represent the broad spectrum of the community college mission and the student experience at Wallace State:

“Today, more than ever, we need to be reminded of the promise of our great country and responsibility to serve each other. Our guiding principle is to put students first in all that we do. But actually, these graduates have set the best example of that in their service to each other. They lift each other up, and are willing to share their strengths and their stories — some quite challenging — to inspire and assist their classmates.”

Dr. Karolewics mentioned these individuals directly from the podium:


Each of their truly amazing personal and educational stories can be found here.

Special presentations were made to:

Bryan Holmes, a General Studies student from Hartselle, for the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence

Emmanuel Reynoso Arce, an Engineering Technology student from Arab, for the Presidential Award for Technical Excellence;

Donald Wayne May, a Medical Laboratory Technology student from Jasper, for the Presidential Award for Health Excellence.

These awards go to students of superior achievement in each area and are the highest honors presented at graduation.

Music was provided by the Wallace State Concert Choir and Symphonic Band.

Dr. Karolewics:

“Graduates, you all have two things in common — dreams and perseverance. As you embark on the next chapter of your life, continue to set your aspirations high.”

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Tiffany Collins

Tiffany Collins is Cullman Today's Community Events & Life Announcements Coordinator. She enjoys supporting citizens of greater Cullman County in celebrating their personal and professional successes and achievements.

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