Scholarship Celebration marks beginning of 20th anniversary of Wallace State Future Foundation

May 2, 2024Gail Crutchfield
Scholarship Celebration 2024

Wallace State Community College Future Foundation scholarship recipients chat with each other at the 11th annual Wallace State Community College Scholarship Celebration event held recently in Traditions Bank Arena of Tom Drake Coliseum. Pictured from left are Rebekah Birmingham, Addie Stripling, Halie Jones and Elise Martin. Each are recipients of the Vervil Mitchell Endowed Scholarship.

Hanceville, AL — The Wallace State Community College Future Foundation kicked off its 20th anniversary celebrating scholarship recipients and their donors at its recent Scholarship Celebration.

The annual event is an opportunity for the students to meet and thank their donors and for the donors to meet the students benefitting from their gift to the Future Foundation.

“The story of each student awarded today will begin or continue today because of all of you donors,” said Wallace State President Vicki Karolewics. “We are so excited to celebrate 188 scholarship recipients and their donors whose generosity make these awards possible. Today’s event celebrates the success of these students while honoring those who choose to give and to make their success a reality. We are forever grateful to our donors who give so generously throughout the year and who support Wallace State and the Future Foundation.”

Current Future Foundation president Donna Guthrie encouraged the students to make the most of the opportunity they’ve been given with the scholarship they’ve received from their donors.

“Students, take this opportunity and do well. Make the most of every chance that comes your way,” Guthrie said. “These people that are sitting beside you, the donors, they want so much for you to be successful. Fill them with pride. Make the most of this moment and continue to learn. And someday you can have the opportunity to give back just as these donors have done.”

Current and former scholarship recipients shared how the Foundation and Wallace State changed their lives.

Vickie Westbrook

Wallace State student Vickie Westbrook speaks expressed her appreciation to donors to the Future Foundation. Thanks to a scholarship she received, Westbrook will graduate this month debt free.

Vickie Westbrook will graduate debt free May 10 with a degree from the Wallace State Horticulture program.

“It took me 27 years to get here,” Westbrook said of her educational journey that included dropping out of school at 16, getting her GED and previously starting and stopping college classes. “Statistically I shouldn’t be here but because of the donors and the Future Foundation I’m here living my dream.”

Paul Knetter

Wallace State graduate Paul Knetter addresses students and donors at the Wallace State Community College Future Foundation Scholarship Celebration, an event he attend seven years ago as a student.

“I am forever grateful to the Foundation and donors that give so much more than just their money and each one of the faculty and staff at Wallace State,” said Paul Knetter a 2018 graduate of Wallace State. “Someone sees potential in each one of you scholarship recipients and I would venture to say there is a lot of people at Wallace that see potential in you.

“If I could give just one piece of advice, develop a relationship with the faculty and staff that are here and even the donors that are siting with you,” Knetter added. “The bonds you make now will help you in career and life more than you know.”

During the Scholarship Celebration, Hanceville Mayor Jimmy Sawyer presented a proclamation claiming April as Community College Month in the city.

“I’m proud to have not just one of the best community colleges in the state of Alabama, but to have the best community college right here in our own community,” Stewart said.

Hanceville Proclamation

Hanceville Mayor Jimmy Sawyer presents a resolution to Wallace State President Vicki Karolewics declaring April Community College Month in the city of Hanceville.

Future Foundation history

The Future Foundation was founded in 2004 as part of the college’s vision at the time to become a world class, nationally recognized, and technologically advanced learning college serving the educational, cultural and social needs of the community.

President Karolewics, who was in her first year as the college president, served as the Foundation president, with Dr. Jenny Folsom, who was then the college’s Dean of Academic Affairs, serving as vice president. Former Wallace State Business Office Manger Janice Morgan served as the Foundation’s secretary-treasurer. Foundation directors included Evelyn Burrow, Vince Cheatham, Betty Leeth Haynes and Don Hubbard.

“The group set out to establish an organization that could support students through scholarships, our Wallace State programs and faculty and staff,” said Suzanne Harbin, Vice President of Advancement and Innovation. “The goal was to create an organization that would be here in perpetuity and to award scholarships to students who were deserving based on their educational goals, unmet financial needs and desire to be successful in the future.”

A $1 million irrevocable charitable remainder trust from Mrs. Burrow was among the Foundation’s first gifts and is used to fund several scholarships each year. Other gifts included a memorial scholarship honoring Richard Caretti for the Aviation program, and a donation from Mrs. Haynes to update the college theatre’s sound system.

Within three years of its formation, Future Foundation donors were providing more than $1 million annually to support scholarships, provide financial assistance to programs, make capital improvements and more, all in the effort to help students achieve their goals.

“Beginning with the first scholarships awarded in 2008, we awarded $500 each to less than 50 students, and as of today, our current awards average a minimum of about $2,000 per student to almost 200 students each year,” Harbin said. “Wallace State’s Future Foundation has been an integral part of Wallace State’s becoming.”

Today, the Future Foundation’s total assets are more than $8 million, supporting around 200 named scholarships, many of those endowed scholarships that will last in perpetuity. In 2023, the Foundation awarded more than $312,000 while distributing almost 450 scholarships.

“The Wallace State Future Foundation is a model for colleges across the country and I think a lot of it for us is because of the link between the donors and the students, that we do a lot of things to get together,” said board member Dale Greer. “As a donor, you get to hear stories about students, you learn about them. I want to tell you students, that someone thinks enough of you that it’s worth putting money in to help you achieve your goals, that they’re very tuned in on where they want you to go and what they want you to do. And I think those stories that we learn are what fuel the Foundation efforts to find financial assistance.”

Harbin encouraged all present to save the date of Nov. 7, 2024, in their calendar to attend the annual Student Investment Luncheon, which is the premiere fundraiser for the Future Foundation and will also be a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Foundation.

For more information about the Wallace State Future Foundation or to donate, visit

See photos from the Scholarship Celebration at


About Wallace State

Wallace State Community College (Ala.), a member of the Alabama Community College System, is a comprehensive community college in north central Alabama offering more than 200 options in academic, health and technical programs of study leading to an associate degree, certificate or transfer, as well as non-credit training and adult education. An Achieving the Dream Leader College, nationally-recognized by the Aspen Institute among the top 10 percent of institutions according to student outcomes, ranked by Southern Business and Development among the Top 3 institutions in the South for workforce development, named a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing Center and the National Security Administration, rated the Top Online Community College in Alabama, a Military Friendly Institution and an All-Steinway School, Wallace State is an outstanding place for students to pursue their education and career goals. Classes are offered online and on campus, day, evening and on weekends, with numerous start dates each year. Visit Wallace State’s beautiful main campus located on 300-acres in Hanceville, Ala., our satellite location in downtown Oneonta, Ala., find us online at, or call 256.352.8000.

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