May 15, 2021
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HANCEVILLE, Ala.—Wallace State Community College and President Vicki Karolewics celebrated the college’s commencement at Traditions Bank Arena in Tom Drake Coliseum Friday. Two ceremonies were held to allow for social distancing, with Academic and Applied Technologies graduates honored in a morning ceremony, and Health Science graduates honored in the evening. More than 500 students participated in the ceremonies.

“Congratulations graduates,” said Dr. Karolewics, “you are the workforce of the future, the future of our state. We are overjoyed to be able to celebrate with you in person today.”

Graduates of the Class of 2020 were invited to join the Class of 2021 in the celebration. Last year’s commencement was celebrated during a drive-thru event necessitated by the pandemic.

“You have risen to the challenge, you have met the moment, and you have achieved this most incredible feat during an incredibly difficult time in history,” Dr. Karolewics said.  “Thank you all for choosing Wallace State to open the door of opportunity.“

Two students were invited to give this year’s graduation address – Edgar Nunez Zavala and Lorri Eggink.

Nunez is a graduate of Oneonta High School, who graduates from Wallace State with an Associate degree in General Studies. He is the president of Next Gen, the first generation student organization on Wallace State’s Oneonta Campus, a senator in Wallace State’s Student Government Association, member of Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society, and Phi Theta Kappa, the college national honor society. He will enroll at the University of Alabama in the fall of 2021, where he has earned the Tutwiler Excellence Scholarship and plans to major in Marketing and Public Relations.

Nunez, having been told “You will never make it to college” instead leaned on words his mother told him, “Don’t ever let anything or anyone cut your wings and keep you from flying.” He pushed forward and found himself at Wallace State, and soon to enroll at Alabama.

“For immigrant students like myself, the odds sometimes seemed stacked against us,” he said. “It is my hope to continue to help open the door of opportunity for other students like myself and I encourage you, the Wallace State family, to keep opening that same door of opportunity for students of all cultural backgrounds.”

id="attachment_17811" align="alignright" width="300" Lorri Eggink - Physical Therapist Assistant graduate Lorri Eggink receives the Presidential Award for Excellence in Health Science from Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics at Friday night’s graduation ceremony for Health Science graduates at Wallace State Community College.

Eggink graduates from the Physical Therapy Assistant Program. She was awarded the President’s Cup, the highest honor presented to a student during the Honors Ceremony, and she was also presented the Presidential Award for Health Science Excellence at Commencement. She is active in the Student Physical Therapy Organization, the previous Physical Therapy Organization treasurer and fundraising chair, a PTA peer tutor and leader, and volunteer with Mobility Worldwide.

A mother of three children with special health challenges and former missionary, she came to Wallace State to embark on a new career after the death of her husband.

“I never expected to be a widow at the age of 38,” she said. “Change will happen in your life. Period. Big or small. Good or bad. How you cope with these challenges, can make a huge difference in how you move forward through them. I urge you to embrace change that will alter your future.”

In addition to the special presentations made to Eggink, Jonathan Allred, a General Studies graduate, was presented the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence, and  Maira Rios Cortes, a Cosmetology graduate, was presented the Presidential Award for Technical Excellence. These awards go to students of superior achievement in each area and are the highest academic honors presented at graduation.

Dr. Ryan Smith, dean of students, gave special recognition to students who were wearing medals and pins received during the college’s Honors Night for program excellence, leadership, and service, as well as recognizing members of Phi Theta Kappa national honor society, Sigma Kappa Delta English honorary society, Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honorary society, Kappa Beta Delta business honor society, state SkillsUSA medalists, and other honor graduates with GPAs of at least 3.5 or higher. He also recognized Veterans in the student body.

Music was provided by the Wallace State Concert Choir and Concert Band. Choir Director Tiffany Richter sang “America” for the audience.

Students Daniel Terry, Campus Ministries president, and Carli Jo Ashley, Nursing class president, offered the invocations.

Wallace State has educated hundreds of thousands of students since opening its doors in 1966, and tens of thousands have had degrees conferred. The college is nationally recognized for its work in student success.

Both events were livestreamed.


id="attachment_17809" align="alignright" width="300" Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics addresses the 2021 Academic and Technical graduating class.id="attachment_17808" align="alignright" width="300" Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics, left, takes a selfie with student Maggie Ramirez, of Hanceville, prior to Friday morning’s commencement.id="attachment_17807" align="alignright" width="300" Jonathan Allred is Wallace State’s 2021 Presidential Award for Academic Excellence recipient. He is pictured with Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics.id="attachment_17806" align="alignnone" width="640" Miara Rios Cortes, left, is Wallace State’s 2021 Presidential Award for Applied Technologies Excellence recipient. She is pictured with Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics.



VIDEO: Videos of the two Wallace State Commencement Ceremonies can be viewed at youtube.com/wallacestate or at www.wallacestate.edu/graduation.


Direct links:

Academic and Applied Technologies Livestream:  https://youtu.be/Zn4Px3oHRAc

Health Science Livestream:  https://youtu.be/rrcCS9Ylqqs


Flickr Albums:

Academic and Applied Technologies Ceremony: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmVDRwqB

Health Science Ceremony: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmVDxeJU

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