HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Lois White has served many roles in her life – sharecropper’s daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, beautician and social worker, among others.
White’s also a Wallace State alum. Her persistence and hard work in life is an attribute of many successful community college students, highlighted in April during Community College Month.
White, 82, is a 1998 Wallace State graduate, earning an associate degree in human services in her 60s.
White graduated from Fairview High School in 1958 and initially pursued a cosmetology career, working as an apprentice to Jesse Mayo, who was the father-in-law of Betty Mayo – Wallace State’s cosmetology instructor at the time. White eventually ran her own beauty shop for three years before beginning a family.
Before enrolling at Wallace State, White worked at Automatic Electric, which later became GTE. She joined Automatic Electric after her sixth child entered school. She worked there for 11 years, working night shift, while also raising six children.
While caring for family members with various illnesses, she wanted to learn more about understanding people’s actions through a human services degree. White began classes at Wallace State in 1990, enrolling in one or two classes per quarter.
In order to pay for college, White sold cattle.
“It seemed that when it was time to pay tuition, it was the same time cows were ready to sell,” said White, who made the Dean’s List at Wallace State.
White did all of this while also raising her big family. She only had two children at home during this time, but she was having to care for a son who had been in a construction accident, her mother-in-law and father, who were both ill, and her daughter Margaret, who had lupus.
As a Wallace State student, White shadowed and learned from social work professionals with the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) and Cullman Regional Medical Center.
“One of the most beneficial or rewarding things about attending Wallace State was learning background information on why people act and react the way they do. It helped me learn how to talk to people more effectively,” White said.
Upon graduating from Wallace State, White thrived in a role as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer. White’s husband, Carroll, joined her through the volunteer efforts until he passed away in 2012.
“Growing up in Gold Ridge as sharecropper’s daughter, college wasn’t an option, so I pursued a college degree later in life to learn more about myself, my family and others. I gained skills at Wallace State to be a better caretaker and as a professional. It helped me better understand what others were dealing with,” White said.
White, who has six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, retired from CASA last year.
“I have many more ‘grandkids’ through CASA,” White joked.
White attended Wallace State simultaneously with her Margaret, a dental assisting and nursing alum.
White’s son Jason is also on the Wallace State Future Foundation Board of Directors.