Breakfast celebrates Future Foundation scholarship recipients, donors

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Grace Hollis, the recipient of the Joe Wayne and Kathryn Maddox Education Scholarship, spoke at the Wallace State Community College Future Foundation’s Scholarship Celebration Breakfast.

HANCEVILLE – The Wallace State Community College Future Foundation recently hosted its fourth Scholarship Celebration Breakfast, during which it was announced the Foundation would be awarding almost $100,000 in scholarships to 80 students for the upcoming year. Another $15,000 to $20,000 in dual enrollment scholarships will be awarded to area high school students.

“Today’s event celebrates the success of students, while also honoring those like you who make the success a reality,” Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics told the guests, which included donors and scholarship recipients. “This is a special event where we have the opportunity to place students with their supporters, those people who feel it’s important to invest in a young person’s ability to succeed in the educational journey that they have set forth for themselves.

“We are forever grateful for our donors who give so generously throughout the year, and support Wallace State and the Future Foundation,” Karolewics added.

Suzanne Harbin, executive director of the Future Foundation, said they received more than 200 scholarship applications, and were able to grant almost half of those requests. “Our long-term goal is to be able to double that ever year,” Harbin said. “We’re working really hard to do that.”

As has become tradition for the breakfast, the group heard from both a scholarship recipient and a donor.

Grace Hollis, one of 13 children, is majoring in elementary education and is the recipient of the Joe Wayne and Kathryn Maddox Education Scholarship established by their children.

Hollis graduated from high school in 2014 and took a gap year to teach English to preschoolers of all nationalities at an elementary school in Japan.

“I took that gap year because I didn’t know what God wanted me to do with life,” Hollis said. “Toward the end of my time in Japan, I just felt convinced in my heart that he wanted me to come home and attend college and get my degree in elementary education.”

Hollis was directed to the Future Foundation by Foundation staff member Cherie Smith, who encouraged her to apply. “I was able to turn in my application the day before it closed,” she said. “I was on pins and needles.”

A few days later, she got the call that she would be getting a scholarship. This spring, she was able to meet the donors who provided her scholarship. “I really fell in love with them because of their generous heart and everything they offered me,” she said.

Hollis is the fourth member of her family to receive a scholarship from the Future Foundation, she said. Three brothers each have benefited from scholarships and “are using their gifts and talents to serve,” Hollis said. One is using his business degree to spread the gospel and help others in Kenya. Another is teaching at the same school she taught at in Japan, and a third is in the military.

“I really want to challenge the students in here who have received scholarships to work hard,” Hollis added. “As I’ve heard it said already this morning, somebody had to give so that you could be here this morning, and they worked hard to do that. So, students, please, use your time wisely, be good stewards of the finances that have been given to you. Don’t take it lightly.”

The message from a donor was given by John Strickland, the father of Connor Strickland, for whom a memorial scholarship was established last year.

“October the 9th, last year, was a huge turning point for my family,” Strickland said, going on to explain how his son was the lone fatality in a multi-vehicle crash on I-65 over the Tennessee River.

“The next two weeks for my family were a blur, to say the least,” he said. “But one of the things that we were so shocked by in that first week, I mean before the funeral, is we were contacted and somebody had let us know that there’s been a scholarship fund set up in Connor’s memory.

“So, on behalf of my family, one of the things that I want to say today to you donors, is thank you so much for what you’re trying to do in supporting students like this. Thank you for the honor that you paid my family in establishing a scholarship in my son’s name.”

To the students, Strickland encouraged them to be lifetime students in the same manner his son was. “He always wanted to learn more, whether it was in the classroom or whether it was in the job place, whether it was in church, wherever he was at, he was always interested in learning more,” Strickland said. “And so, I urge you to, given the opportunity that you have now, as Miss Grace was talking about earlier, the financial gift that you’ve been given, what I’d urge you to do is take that financial gift and apply it to learning where you want to be in the world.

“Be thankful for the gift that you have, use it wisely, not in just one aspect of your life, but take that gift and try to apply it in every aspect of your life. Not just now, not just the next two years or the next four years, but throughout your life, because you will truly be blessed in the end, as a lifetime student.”

For more information about the Wallace State Future Foundation, visit or call 256-352-8144. To view a list of Future Foundation scholarships or download an application, visit