- Cullman, Alabama

April 9, 2014

Wallace State Sophomore Ponder named 2014 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholar


HANCEVILLE — Levi Ponder, a 2012 Vinemont graduate, is one of only 50 Gold Scholars among qualified candidates across 38 states, standing out among more than 1,700 applicants. The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society administers the Coca-Cola Community College Academic team and it will recognize Ponder at the Phi Theta Kappa National Convention on Friday, April 26 in Orlando, Fla.

As a Gold Scholar recipient, Ponder earns a $1,500 scholarship for the fall semester.

“This is a great honor. I’m excited to be chosen. My parents have always stressed education, so this is huge to help get me through college,” said Ponder, who plans to transfer to Auburn University in the fall and pursue an accounting degree.

Ponder is on track to graduate from Wallace State in May with an associate degree in business administration. Ponder maintained a 3.93 grade point average at the end of the fall semester.

Along with his academic success, Ponder has served a strong example outside the classroom at Wallace State, participating in the college’s Student Government Association, as a Student Outreach And Recruitment (SOAR) participant and as an ambassador for area high school students through Wallace State’s inaugural Youth Leadership Development Program. 

As a member of Wallace State’s SGA, Ponder has been active in the community, joining classmates at Victorian Manor assisted living in Hanceville to play bocce ball with the residents. He has also assisted with a letter writing campaign to soldiers for Thanksgiving 2013 and a food drive at Christmas.

Ponder served as a college ambassador during Wallace State’s inaugural Youth Leadership Development Program, which allows two juniors and six seniors from Cullman High School, all of the high schools in the Cullman county system and Hartselle High School to visit campus once a month during the school year to learn about leadership traits through various discussions, activities and presentations.    

"In addition to being an outstanding student, as a SOAR student, Levi has been invaluable during the inaugural year of the Youth Leadership Development Program of Cullman. Not only has he assisted with numerous aspects of the program, he has served as a mentor and group facilitator to roughly twenty YLDP students from the surrounding area. Levi has also participated in several service projects benefiting the Cullman community,” said Tad Parker, a Wallace State employee in the Enrollment Management Department and an YLDP staff member. “Levi is an exemplary student and has represented Wallace State Community College well."

Ponder was eligible for Gold Scholar status because he’s a member of Wallace State’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in American higher education with 1,285 chapters on two-year and community college campuses in all 50 states and in Canada, Germany, Peru and other select republics or territories. More than 2.5 million students have been inducted into Phi Theta Kappa since its founding in 1918, with approximately 135,000 students inducted annually.

Gold Scholar students are judged on outstanding academic rigor, grade point average, academic and leadership awards and engagement in college and community service.

Ponder was required to write a series of essays in order for him to be selected for the recognition. His main essay was about the Wallace State Phi Theta Kappa chapter encouraging its students to commit to graduating before they leave Hanceville and fulfill future academic endeavors.

“We’ve made it a goal to try to improve the graduation rate as much as possible. We especially want to get those students to graduate who lack just a few credit hours before they transfer. You can graduate and still move on to where you want to go,” said Ponder, who estimates he also served 200 community service hours when he in high school.

The Gold Scholar scholarship covers tuition and fees towards full-credit programs aimed at a bachelor’s or a higher degree.

For more information about Wallace State, visit