Richard Jerome Burkett Memorial Scholarship established at Wallace State

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Wallace State Community College President Dr. Vicki Karolewics with Mike Burkett, whose family established the Richard Jerome Burkett Memorial Scholarship.

HANCEVILLE – The family of the late Richard Jerome Burkett has created a memorial scholarship in his honor at Wallace State Community College, providing an annual scholarship for students in the Building Construction or Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) programs at the college.

“My brother would be happy about this,” said his brother Mike Burkett.

Burkett said his brother was one of those people who was very good with his hands but didn’t care for scholastics. Still, he gave college a try by enrolling at a nearby community college after high school. He started working in construction as a teenager and continued through most of his life. The last several years of his life, he worked in HVAC.

“He loved doing air conditioning because he loved taking those things apart and putting them back together,” Burkett said. “He just had a knack for fixing things. He could look at a part and see right where it fit.”

Providing scholarships to help students like his brother was an opportunity Burkett said he and his parents, Elva Cucunato of Cullman and Charles Mitchell Burkett of Corner, wanted to pursue to honor their loved one’s memory. “They’re tickled that we could do this,” he said of his parents.

Burkett teaches construction at the Cullman Area Career Center and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Wallace State Building Construction program. He said it’s important that students learn how to write a proposal or draft a letter and understand the mathematics involved in construction or HVAC.

“I tell my kids when I teach up there, you have to know a little bit of both,” he said.

The Richard Jerome Memorial Scholarship will provide up $2,500 annually to a student in the Building Construction or HVAC program. The scholarship recipient will be chosen based on financial need and should have at least a 2.0 GPA.

“I just personally want to thank you and your family,” said Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics.

“Most people who want to go into the industry don’t really think about going to college to learn how to do it, because they’re afraid of college,” she said. “They want to work with their hands. They don’t want to sit in a college classroom. So, having the ability to connect young people with those kinds of careers is really something we’re working on.”

Donations to the Richard Jerome Burkett Memorial Scholarship Fund will be accepted and can be made online at or by mail at PO Box 568, Hanceville, AL 35077.

The first scholarship could be awarded as early as the Spring 2019 semester. To apply, contact Suzanne Harbin at 256-352-8144 or

Registration for Spring 2019 is currently underway at Wallace State, with classes to begin on Jan. 7. Visit or call 256-352-8000 for more information.