- Cullman, Alabama


September 13, 2013

Association recognizes outstanding WSCC alumni

HANCEVILLE — More than a dozen graduates of Wallace State Community College and three current or recent graduates are among those recognized during the 2013 Alumni Association Outstanding Alumni awards ceremony.

The Wallace State Alumni Association put out a call for nominees for the annual awards, receiving 16 qualified nominees between the Health, Academic and Workforce divisions and three for the Promising Young Alumni category. The nominees and winners in each division were recognized during the Outstanding Alumni Recognition Ceremony on Aug. 13, 2013, in the recital hall of the Burrow Center for the Fine and Performing Arts on the Hanceville campus. The awards were presented by Leah Bolin, vice president of the WSCC Alumni Association and Chamber of Commerce Director, and WSCC President Vicki Hawsey Karolewics.

“Congratulations to each of you up here,” Bolin said. “Your names were not on the list at random. You earned this.”

In seeking Outstanding Alumni nominees, the association sought graduates who have earned an associate degree, certificate or diploma from the college, have demonstrated achievement in their field of work or expertise, and have exhibited significant community-based service and who have in some way demonstrated commitment to WSCC.

Promising Alumni nominees were eligible if they have completed at least 48 hours of college-level courses or have graduated from WSCC within the last five years. They have demonstrated achievement within their major or program and have demonstrated commitment to WSCC.

Outstanding Alumni

The Outstanding Alumni award was presented to Kathy Wilson, a juvenile probation officer for Cullman County who restarted her education at Wallace State.

Described as a “very brave person” by Gloria Williams, who nominated her, Wilson dropped out of high school to start a family. After having three children, Wilson decided to get her GED at Wallace State and then started taking classes at WSCC to work toward a degree in education. She transferred to Athens State University in 1995 to continue her education, graduating cum laude.

“Mrs. Wilson overcame a number of hurdles while working full time and raising three children to obtain her bachelor’s degree, an important milestone in her life,” Brenda Howell, director of Cullman County’s Juvenile Probation Services where Wilson went to work in 1997, said in a letter of recommendation. “The foundation that she received from Wallace State gave her the confidence and determination to go forward and seize her goals of financial security and self worth.”

Howell said Wilson has become her “go to” person when working on special projects, creating new programs and presenting them to the public. Most important, however, is that Wilson has “changed the lives of children and families through her work.”

Wilson also uses her knowledge of Wallace State to try and improve the lives of her clients by encouraging enrollment in the college’s GED and technical programs when in it is appropriate for probationers and their family members, Howell said.

“She exemplifies the fine qualities in students for which Wallace State is known,” Howell added.

“I can’t tell you what an honor and humbling experience this has been,” Wilson said when she accepted the same award her father Jerry Caudle received years ago. “I will tell you this. I didn’t get here by myself. This award is not about Kathy Wilson. This award is about my parents, my children, my husband and my co-workers. To each one of them, I would not be here today if it were not for them. Thank you very much.”

Wilson said she’s honored to have received the same award her father received. “My dad is probably one of the best people who walks this earth,” she said. “He is the patriarch. He leads by example.”

Health Division

Christopher Garrett is the recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award for the Health Division. A graduate of Corner High School, Garrett earned an Associate in Applied Science in Clinical Laboratory Technology from Wallace State in 2002.

Julie Welch, who nominated Garrett, said he worked full-time on the night shift at Walmart as he completed his degree at Wallace State. He then went on to earn his bachelor of science in chemistry in 2012 and is working on his master’s in biotechnology, all while working full-time the past 10 years for Baptist Medical Center Princeton.

Garrett was recently promoted to Supervisor of Transfusion Services at BMC and continues to work with the medical community of Baptist Health System to develop a molecular diagnostic laboratory. He served on the board of directors for the non-profit Stars Over Alabama, which raised money and awareness for Alabama’s HIV/AIDS patients living in poverty. He is an Eagle Scout and served as scoutmaster for two years; and he is a member of a number of professional organizations.

Welch said Garrett speaks often of ways he can help Wallace State’s CLT program and has mentored several WSCC graduates as they start their career in laboratory medicine.

“Chris Garrett is a striking young man who has taken firm hold of his future and continues to march tirelessly forward with it,” Welch said. “He has achieved so much already beginning with his associate degree at Wallace, that I can’t begin to imagine where he will be by the time he is finished.

“I know that he will continue to dazzle and amaze the world, and that he is going to make Wallace State Community College very proud,” Welch concluded.

Other Outstanding Alumni nominees in the Health Division include: Marina Baker, Jennifer Chandler, Nathan Drake, Tanya Aaron Godbee, Angie Hall, Lillian Swann, Terrie Wallace and Heather Griffith Watts.

Academic Division

Nathan Anderson was named the Outstanding Alumni in the Academic Division. A 2007 graduate, with a Associate in Science degree in Business Administration, Anderson is the Technology Coordinator for Cullman City Schools. He was nominated by Casey Grier, and is a graduate of Vinemont High School.

Noted among his accomplishments during his time with the Cullman City Schools, is the creation of a video recording studio that has been used by the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce and local television stations; a video conferencing room; an innovate tech repair lab; and online registration for out-of-district students. Anderson has also developed weekly tech tips to share with faculty and staff, devised an online inventory system, implemented a virtual classroom space for homebound students through Google Hangout and Blackboard Collaborate, installed Apple TV, created and directed multiple video announcements, and effectively uses social media and Cloud computing.

In the community, Anderson has served as the chair of the Chamber of Commerce Small Business Committee and currently serves on the Chamber’s Board of Directors. He currently serves as president of the Downtown Merchant’s Association and was part of the planning and promotion of the organization’s Christmas in Cullman and Celebrate Cullman events. He serves a volunteer co-host for Cullman’s TV27 and has volunteered his time with The Foundry. He served on leadership teams at Daystar Church and coordinates high school volunteers for community service credit hours.

Other nominees in the Academic Divisions were Patrick McMaster, Jason Morgan and Adrian Scott.

Workforce Division

Joey Foster earned the title of Outstanding Alumni in the Workforce Division.

Foster is a 2010 graduate of Wallace State, earning a certificate in Welding.  A graduate of Locust Fork High School, Foster was nominated by welding instructor Jim Thompson.

Foster is an American Welding Society Certified Welding Inspector, A.W.S. Certified Educator and A.W.S. Certified Welder Level II. He earned Magnetic Particle and Liquid Penetrate Test Certifications.

Foster serves on the committee for the SkillsUSA Alabama State Postsecondary Welding competition, of which he is a past gold medal winner in the National Welding Competition in Kansas City. He also serves on the advisory committee for the WSCC Welding Technology program.

“He is an outstanding young man who assists in our program to help graduates find welding jobs and is always willing to help and assist the welding program,” Thompson said of his former student.

Mark York, a 1989 graduate, with an Associate in Applied Science degree in Electronic Engineering Technology, was also nominated in the Workforce Division.

Promising Young Alumni

Austin Monk is the Promising Young Alumni award winner.

A dual enrollment student, Monk is a 2010 graduate of WSCC, earning at Associate in Science degree in General Studies while also earning diploma from Cullman High School. He received full scholarships to both Wallace State and Auburn University. He also earned a graduate assistantship while at AU, which allowed him to work on his master degree as an undergraduate.

While at Wallace State, Monk served as the SGA president and volunteered in numerous events and activities. He recently received the Promising Young Alumni Award from the Cullman City Schools Foundation.

Monk is the director of the Washington County Economic Development Initiative in Alabama.

Other nominees for the Promising Young Alumni award were Haley Mabrey and Yancey York. Both were also dual enrollment students at Wallace State.

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