HANCEVILLE, ALA. –Wallace State Community College’s James Foster and Vincent Ponder each finished third in the nation, earning bronze medals, in their respective competitions last week at the 50th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo.

Wallace State’s competitors returned home with the most medals among Alabama community colleges.

Foster, a recent Wallace State welding graduate, earned a bronze medal five years after his brother, Joey Foster, was a SkillsUSA national champion.

“The entire SkillsUSA process took a lot of dedication, time and effort and it paid off. I wish I had finished first because as humans we want more, but I’m happy I finished third. It was great to represent the college at the national competition,” said Foster, a J.B. Pennington graduate.

After finishing fourth in the state competition in 2013, Foster was thrilled with the vast improvement he made within a year by finishing tops in the state and third at nationals. Foster credits Wallace State Welding Instructor Jim Thompson for providing the extra motivation behind his progress.

“We put in a lot of extra hours during the weekend working on it. Mr. (Jim) Thompson never allowed me to get complacent. He kept pushing and pushing me to try to achieve goals and then set new ones,” Foster said. “Jim has helped me strive for perfection.”

Thompson and Foster’s wife, Holly, accompanied James to the national event.

Meanwhile, Ponder continued an impressive string of Wallace State Precision Machining students leaving Kansas City with a medal. Ponder, 20, won a bronze, marking the third straight year the department has laid claim to a national medal winner. Mark Lowrey won a national silver in 2013 and two bronzes were won by Lowrey and Walter Eads in 2012.

Ponder, an Arab native, attempted the state and national SkillsUSA competition for the first time this year. Ponder praised the efforts of his Wallace State instructors, Randy Moon, Gary McMinn and Jonathan Minyard, for giving him the opportunity to succeed on both levels.

“I couldn’t have done it without them,” Ponder said. “I’m real proud I was able to bring back a bronze medal to Wallace State. It was a great experience at the national competition. I’ll remember it forever. I thought all of us represented Wallace State well.”

Ponder’s mother and two siblings made the trip to the national competition with him, in addition to Wallace State’s Minyard.

Other Wallace State students competing at SkillsUSA last week were Matt Phillippo in CNC Milling and Seth Pillow in Jobs Skills Demonstration. Phillippo finished tops in the state in his skill while Pillow was second.

The remaining Wallace State students to finish in the top three in their respective state competitions in May were Dustin Miller, second place in Precision Machining; Caleb Tucker, second place in CNC Turning; Will Hudson, third place in Related Technical Math, Charli Smith, second place in Related Technical Math, Kyle Wright, third place in Technical Drafting; Eddie Lewis, second place in HVAC/R, Robert Summerford, second place in Diesel Technology; Jacob Wright, third place in Automotive Service Technology and Austin Decker, third place in Refinishing.

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations. SkillsUSA serves more than 300,000 students and instructors annually. The organization has 13,000 school chapters in 54 state and territorial associations.

For more information about Wallace State, visit wallacestate.edu.

James Foster of Welding

James Foster

Vincent Ponder of Precision Machining

Vincent Ponder


Russell Moore

Staff Writer

Wallace State Community College

P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077

1-866-350-9722    256-352-8443 direct

256-339-2422 cell

Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu



Kristen Holmes
Communications & Marketing Director

Wallace State Community College

801 Main Street NW | Hanceville, AL 35077
E-mail: kristen.holmes@wallacestate.edu
Office: 256.352.8118 | Cell: 256.339.2519 | Toll Free: 866.350.9722
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