Wallace State commencement May 12-Kenya Relief Founder Steve James to be honored with Distinguished Alumni Award

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Kenya Relief Founder Steve James to be honored with Distinguished Alumni Award

HANCEVILLE – Wallace State Community College and its president Dr. Vicki Karolewics will host commencement exercises on Friday, May 12, 2017, at Tom Drake Coliseum, starting at 6 p.m.  More than 500 students are expected to participate in the ceremony, with nearly 1,300 earning degrees and certificates as the Class of 2017.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony. Shuttle service from parking lots around campus will be available starting at 5 p.m. Shuttle drivers will be circulating the parking area and anyone seeking to board the shuttle is encouraged to signal the driver as they approach.

For those not able to attend in person, the ceremony will be streamed live online at www.wallacestate.edu/graduation.

Steve James, founder of Kenya Relief, will be recognized as the Distinguished Alumni of the Year, a tradition that was first celebrated as part of graduation last year for the college’s 50th anniversary.

James, a veteran anesthesia provider, founded the faith-based KenyaRelief.org in memory of his daughter, Brittany, who had sponsored a young child from Kenya named Newton and dreamed of visiting there before she passed away at 19.

In 2002, KenyaRelief.org began as a small orphanage for the children of Migori, Kenya, with a mission “to rekindle hope for a new generation in Kenya through partnership between communities, uniting for a common good. “From the first 10 kids to nearly 200 today, Brittney’s Home of Grace provides a loving and safe home for orphaned/vulnerable children. Many continue to be orphans of AIDS. The 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.

A 1975 graduate of the Nursing Program at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, James was one of only five male students in the college’s first graduating class of 25. He went on to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist with a successful career spanning 30 years in the field.

Today, James is a fixture at conferences on international relief aid. That his organization, still based in Cullman, Ala., is recognized on par with the largest international relief agencies is remarkable, not only for what he’s done in Kenya but for the impact he’s made on this Alabama community, opening eyes to the suffering of the wider world, breaking down stereotypes, and broadening minds and horizons.  Kenya Relief partners with others to make a lasting impact in the world through physical, mental, and emotional aid.

James has mastered the organization of short-term medical and surgical missions and created a safe, sustainable program involving health, education and care of orphans and vulnerable children. He organizes over 20 teams of missionaries each year who provide free medical services including, but not limited to, pediatrics, ophthalmology and obstetrics/gynecology. James’s goal is to leave a legacy of hope for the people of western Kenya.

These videos capture the work of Steve James and Kenya Relief:

Good News, a feature on Steve James, founder of Kenya Relief:  https://youtu.be/aPY1vXrsafs

Legacy of Hope, the Kenya Relief Story:  https://youtu.be/z6SXShH8Ebk

To see additional photographs and video about Steve’s work through Kenya Relief, and to learn more about the organization, visit kenyarelief.org.

For more information about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu.