WSCC Adult Education and Center for Career and Workforce Development host 2024 graduation

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Mario Nunez Gonzalez, who was designated as the Adult Education program’s Outstanding English as a Second Language (ESL) Student of the Year, receives his award from Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics.

HANCEVILLE, Ala. –  Wallace State Community College’s Adult Education Department recently hosted its 2024 graduation, recognizing students who earned their General Education Development (GED) or high school diploma during the 2023-2024 academic year. In addition, the Center for Career and Workforce Development also recognized students that completed short-term workforce training programs. All graduates were honored at Traditions Bank Arena inside Tom Drake Coliseum.

Wallace State Community College President Dr. Vicki Karolewics welcomed families to the ceremony and celebrated graduates on their success.  

She presented diplomas to graduates, congratulating each in turn on never giving up on their dreams.

More than 900 individual certifications and degrees were awarded by Wallace State during the 2023-2024 academic year, including 208 high school and GED graduates, 337 Skills for Success credentials, 152 healthcare credentials and 150 Alabama Career Essentials (ACE) completers.

Suzanne Harbin, vice president for advancement and innovation at Wallace State, congratulated students on their determination and achievements.

“Today, we celebrate not just a milestone, but a testament to your dedication, perseverance and commitment to lifelong learning. Your journey has been marked by hard work, resiliency and unwavering determination to better yourselves and your future,” said Harbin. “For many of you, returning to education as adults and balancing studies with work, family and other responsibilities is no small feat. It requires immense courage to step back into a classroom to embrace new challenges and to commit to personal and professional growth. You have shown that it is never too late to learn, evolve and pursue your dreams. You have demonstrated that learning is a lifelong journey and that with that determination, we can continually grow and improve ourselves.” 

Patti Wilkins, director of Wallace State’s Adult Education program, addressed students who received their GED and ACE certifications, encouraging them to continue their educational pursuit and to utilize the resources made available through the college. 

“Please do not stop here. Please reach out and let us help you. We have resources to help you pay for tuition, to earn a degree, to earn a certification that will help you enter the workforce with a bright future. Tonight is the beginning of the next chapter of your book,” Wilkins said.

Mario Nunez Gonzalez, who was designated as the Adult Education program’s Outstanding English as a Second Language (ESL) Student of the Year, was a guest speaker at the ceremony. Gonzalez completed certification to become a Fiber Optics Technician and plans to continue his studies with the Adult Education program to earn his GED next year. 

“I must remind myself to not rush and to be patient with the language learning process because it is not easy. I completed the Fiber Optics certification with a very high grade in English, and it is my goal to challenge myself to pass all sections of the GED in English,” said Gonzalez. “My journey through the ESL program and now GED has been a testament to the power of resilience, determination and unwavering faith in the face of adversity. As I look to the horizon, I am filled with an unshakable sense of hope, for the journey ahead is filled with infinite possibilities waiting to be explored. I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the trials that have tested me, the triumphs that have strengthened me and the unwavering support from those that have walked alongside me every step of the way. Your belief in me has given me the strength to overcome obstacles and pursue my dreams. I am so proud to be a part of this community and look forward to continuing to learn.” 

Along with Gonzalez, guest speakers included Phlebotomy graduate Stephanie Sandlin, Human Resources Manager at Topre America Mary White and Director of Programs at the Jimmie Hale Mission Jeremy Sturdivant. 

Five Adult Education graduates were recognized at the ceremony and awarded scholarships to further their education. 

Emma Grace Kilgo was awarded the Oden Family Scholarship to continue her education at Wallace State. The Oden Family Scholarship was presented by Alabama Public Service Commissioner Jeremy Oden in honor of his mother. 

Emma Grace Kilgo is presented with the Oden Family Scholarship by Alabama Public Service Commissioner Jeremy Oden.

Karen LeAnn Taylor and Lauren Marie Burney were awarded $1,000 Hope House scholarships. Taylor plans to study Forensic Science and Burney plans to further her education and enter the health care field. 

Karen LeAnn Taylor is presented a Hope House scholarship from Wallace State Oneonta Director Lauren Wilson.

Lauren Marie Burney is presented a Hope House scholarship from Wallace State Oneonta Director Lauren Wilson.

Grant Michael Dyer and Lillie Grace Toomey were awarded $1,250 Presidential scholarships through Wallace State. Dyer plans to study Computer Science and Toomey plans to study Child Development. 

Grant Michael Dyer receives a Presidential scholarship from Wallace State from Wallace State Oneonta Director Lauren Wilson.

Lillie Grace Toomey receives a Presidential scholarship from Wallace State from Wallace State Oneonta Director Lauren Wilson.

In addition, each Adult Education and ACE graduate received a 3-credit-hour scholarship valued at $500 to be used at any Alabama community college. 

Karolewics presented Gold Star Teacher Awards to faculty members whose outstanding leadership and commitment to education has impacted students and furthered the mission of Wallace State.  

John Barnett was presented a Gold Star Teacher Award for his role in the Adult Education program as an ESL instructor. 

“This faculty member carries a full load of classes, showcasing exceptional work ethic and passion for fostering a positive learning environment. Moreover, they have emerged as a true advocate for the Hispanic and Latino community,” said Karolewics.

Jessica Pritchett was presented a Gold Star Teacher Award for her role with the Center for Career and Workforce Development as a Phlebotomy instructor. 

“She consistently dedicates her time outside of the classroom to assist students who may need additional instruction or lab time. Additionally, her graduates have a very high job placement rate, reflecting the quality of education and training they receive,” said Karolewics. “Her leadership, vision and initiative have most recently led to the addition of a new Pharmacy Technician program. She sought out the training for the course, enrolled, completed and achieved accreditation to offer the program at Wallace State. We are thrilled to announce that we received approval yesterday and classes will begin in June.” 

For more information about Wallace State’s Adult Education program, call 256-352-7429, email patti.wilkins@wallacestate.edu or visit www.wallacestate.edu/programs/adult-education.

For more information about the Center for Career and Workforce Development, call 256-352-7450, email Ashley.Baker@wallacestate.edu or visit www.wallacestate.edu/careerdevelopment.

Adult Education and ELS instructor John Barnett receives a Gold Star Teacher Award from Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics.

Jessica Pritchett is presented a Gold Star Teacher Award from Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics for her role with the Center for Career and Workforce Development as a Phlebotomy instructor.