Wallace State kicks off semester, 50th anniversary celebration with Fall Convocation

Wallace State News

HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State Community College’s 50th anniversary celebration officially kicked off Tuesday as employees met for the institution’s annual convocation at the newly renovated James C. Bailey Center auditorium, marking the beginning of another fall semester.

Wallace State has a host of events and initiatives planned through Sept. 2016 in recognition of the college’s 50th anniversary.

Since Wallace State began serving students half a century ago, the college has grown to become one of the top ranked community colleges in America, according to Aspen Institute, Community College Week and others. Wallace State is the first choice for Alabama high schools seniors taking the ACT and the college has the best record of successful student completion in the Alabama Community College System.

Wallace State’s LaDonna Allen began convocation by detailing some of the 50th anniversary festivities and events planned at the college and in the community, including a 50th anniversary float in both the Cullman County Fair and Christmas parades, a Community and Business Partners breakfast, a campus-wide day of giving, an outdoor music festival, a Dinner Under the Stars, the re-establishment of the Wallace State Athletics Hall of Fame and many other giveaways and special events.

Select Wallace State employees were recognized for various achievements, including Courtney Walker, the Wallace State Bookstore assistant manager, who was named the Employee of the Year.

Michael and Lauren Salerno were named the Innovators of the Year. Michael Salerno is an English instructor at the college and Lauren Salerno is director of the Wallace State Theatre program.

Members of the inaugural Wallace State Teaching and Learning Academy were recognized. The faculty members making up the group were Allen Keener, Krystal Beasley, Brian Hall, Marcie Hill, Penny Aldridge, Gayle Ledbetter, Mary Leah Moss, April Sutherland and Beth Williams.

Wallace State’s latest batch of Leadership Wallace State graduates were also recognized, adding to the college’s goal to cultivate leaders in programs and departments all across campus. The 2014-15 Leadership Wallace State group consisted of Virginia Barber, Tonda Carter, Gail Crutchfield, Anthony Hilliard, Elizabeth Hunt, Cindy Maddox, James Malone, Keisha Miller, Anita Monk, Susan Peek, Jeremy Smith, Jill Strickland, Jim Thompson and William Weaver.

Wallace State’s FOCUS (Follow One Course Until Successful) members over the past year were Kathy Miller, Gena Rice, Megan Smith, Kathy Taylor and Jennifer Twitty.

Liz Derrough, the Campus Director of InsideTrack, served as the Convocation keynote speaker. Derrough and her team focused throughout the day on low-income families and students who attend college from a poverty background.

InsideTrack is made up of coaches working to support community college students in progressing successfully toward graduation.

Derrough, who grew up in a low-income family, shared the four types of poverty — generational, working class, immigrant and situation – with the Wallace State assembly and described each category in detail.

Statistics were also cited regarding poverty in Cullman County. A family is considered below the poverty line if they are a family of four making $23,500 or less annually. In Cullman County, 16.4% of residents live below the poverty line and 22.6% of children live below the poverty line.

Breakout sessions presented by the InsideTrack team were also offered to Wallace State employees.

Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics followed Derrough’s presentation with her annual state of the college address. Employees were also treated to a 50th anniversary video compilation, depicting the college’s journey from its inception to 2015 with photographs and interviews over the last five decades.

Wallace State’s fall semester classes began Thursday. Late registration continues until Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Article originally published in Wallace State News, July 2015

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