HANCEVILLE, Ala. — Supporters of Wallace State Community College’s Future Foundation gathered recently to celebrate scholarships provided to the college and those who made them possible.
The Wallace State Future Foundation hosted a Scholarship Celebration Luncheon to recognize those who provided the funds for scholarships and the students who received scholarships. Since 2005, the Future Foundation has been able to award 1,700 scholarships. About $150,000 in scholarships is provided each year through 70 named and endowed scholarships supported by generous donors.
“We are delighted to have you here today to network with those who help make your scholarships happen,” Suzanne Harbin, WSCC Director of Advancement, told the scholarship recipients attending the event.
President Dr. Vicki Karolewics thanked those who make the scholarships possible for Wallace State students. . “Our students are a worthy investment,” she said.
“We want to keep the best and brightest here to advance the community.”
Nanci Tidwell and her husband Jim established a scholarship in memory of his sister and her sister-in-law, Angela Joy Tidwell, a Wallace State graduate who tragically died in a motorcycle accident in 2007. Mrs. Tidwell spoke of her sister-in-law’s love of life and how she loved her job as a respiratory therapist. “She loved the wonder of helping others,” Mrs. Tidwell said.
“Our family was devastated and we searched for answers and reasons why and we couldn’t find it,” Mrs. Tidwell said. “But to help us with our grief and to help us continue on, we came up with this plan to establish a scholarship in her memory.”
Mrs. Tidwell said Harbin walked them with the steps they needed to take to establish a scholarship and they began raising funds for the scholarship in February of 2008. They surpassed their $10,000 goal and raised $12,000 by May, with donations provided by doctors Joy worked with, family, friends and colleagues. A year after Joy’s death, the Angela Joy Tidwell Memorial Scholarship gave its first scholarship for second-year students in the college’s Respiratory Therapy program. “We are proud to say that we have awarded seven scholarships all together,” Mrs. Tidwell said.
Zina Stansberry, helping students achieve their goals is something her uncle Joe Brock would have appreciated her doing in his honor. Brock died tragically in a boating accident several years ago. He had come to live with Stansberry’s family when he was 16 after the death of his own parents, and was more like a brother to her than an uncle, she said.
Stansberry said she realized how the unexpected things that happen to everyone can have a lasting effect on a student’s education and wanted to do something. “I wanted to help and I wanted Uncle Joe to never be forgotten,” she said, of establishing the fund in his honor.
For the students who receive Future Foundation scholarships, they are often life-changing and can mean the difference between success or failure in their education.
For Patricia Williams, a single mother to three children, her life and educational pathways have been littered with numerous speed bumps that resulted in detours, first as a teenage mother, then through divorce and other life-altering moments.
She began her college career 13 years ago with a calling to become a registered nurse, but she had to withdraw from classes due to those “speed bumps.” Caring for three children on her own, working a full-time job and taking a full class schedule wasn’t an option anymore. “I had no choice but to let go of school,” she said.
In 2009, Williams had another chance to return to school, but was once again forced to put her education on hold.
“Throughout all of this, although I realized I still wanted to help people, nursing was not the right thing,” she said. “Through a part-time job that I currently have, I fell in love with physical therapy and I chose to seek a degree as a physical therapy assistant.”
Williams started her college career again in January 2014, taking a full schedule while working two part-time jobs and caring for her three daughters, one of which was in her senior year in high school. She excelled, earning all A’s and making the Dean’s List.
During fall registration, however, she learned she would no longer be eligible for assistance through financial aid or student loans. With the help of her Future Foundation scholarship, she’s adjusted her plans to earn this next month her Associate Degree in Science from Wallace State. She said she could have qualified for financial aid assistance at other institutions. “But my heart was at Wallace State,” she said.
“My passion for helping others, my desire to reach this goal in my life and my wanting to succeed for my girls has gotten me where I am today,” she said. “On May 8, 2015, I will be the first in my family to graduate from college. I will receive my associate degree in science, with high hopes of returning to Wallace State in a year or so as a student the PTA program.
“This has taught me that nothing is impossible,” she added. “The value of education is high and the stress is sometimes overwhelming, but in the end that feeling of accomplishment and knowing my girls are proud of me is priceless. And I just want to say thank you to each and every one of you that donated, because without you I wouldn’t be able to make this possible.”
Brent McDonald’s Future Foundation Scholarship also helped him come back to college to enter into the Emergency Medical Services program. McDonald, who earned his GED from Wallace State, also later graduated with a degree in visual communications and found work as a graphic artist at a Trussville church. But he also felt called to help people, and decided to return to college.
His previous times at Wallace State helped and his faith give him the confidence to come back to school. “I had a sense of self confidence that I never had before, because I knew with God all things are possible,” he said. “I want to say how thankful I am for this college. This college is a tremendous blessing, not only to me, not only to you, but to this county, to Cullman, this state and this nation.”