HANCEVILLE – From the giddiness of the first day of classes and the gleeful anxiety of not knowing what to expect to the late night cram sessions for finals, college is a stepping stone toward the future. Wallace State Community College (WSCC) is the place where many local high school students plan to begin that journey into tomorrow.
Sadly, Vinemont High School’s Whitney Cotton will never know the joys and stresses of attending college. Her untimely and heartbreaking death in a car wreck just over two weeks ago cut her bright life and opportunity-filled future short.
However, 17-year-old Cotton’s death will not be in vain.
On Monday morning, it was announced that WSCC will be offering the Whitney Cotton Memorial Scholarship to a student in the Vinemont High School Class of 2017, which was to be Cotton’s graduating class. The one-year, full tuition scholarship will be renewable for the awarded student.
Chick-Fil-A of Cullman Community Relations and Marketing Director and Life That Counts Founder John Williams began an email correspondence with the college’s president soon after Cotton’s death about how the college could help the Vinemont students as they prepare for their futures while also healing from the tragic loss of their beloved classmate.
“We’re glad to be a part of something that can give some encouragement to at least one of her classmates,” said WSCC President Dr. Vicki Karolewics.
Williams is working with several local businesses and agencies to secure additional funding for the awarded student’s book costs and other possible school expenses.
Vinemont High School Principal Ferrell Runge shared, “It’s tragic. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare,” referencing the June 25 event which has permanently altered the atmosphere in his school and community. Runge went on to express his deep gratitude toward Karolewics, her staff and Wallace State.
Also in attendance were WSCC Assistant Dean of Enrollment Management Jennifer Hill, who will be assisting both Runge and VHS Counselor Johnny Whaley in the coming weeks with establishing the criteria for the scholarship, and WSCC Vice President Dr. Tomesa Smith. Additionally, Williams’ wife, Alexis, and WSCC Communications and Marketing Coordinator Gail Crutchfield were present.