Celebrating Women's History Month

Mar 28, 2024
Dr. Vicki Karolewics, President of Wallace State Community College

Women's History MonthWe close our celebration of Women’s History Month with a tribute to Wallace State Community College’s President, Dr. Vicki P. Karolewics. 

Dr. Karolewics has served our college since August 2003. Her passion for the community college philosophy was born from her own modest beginnings. Raised by a single mother in a rural school district, she was the first in her family to graduate from high school. The possibility of going to college wasn’t discouraged so much as it was simply never a part of the family conversation, she said. “I remember sitting in our high school commencement ceremony, all robed out, and the unairconditioned gym was as hot as a south Alabama May. There were people awarding college scholarships to students, and I definitely remember wondering, ‘How did they do that?’” In those days in small schools in rural Alabama, guidance counselors were not available to discuss college opportunities with students in career education programs.  

She had also never been instructed on how to prepare for a job interview, so, on her first attempt at a job interview, for a position as a keypunch operator, she didn’t get the job. But, taking advice from the interviewer, she enrolled in Reid State Technical College’s Business program, where she learned to dream and learned the value of the community college. She would continue on to earn an associate degree from Patrick Henry State Community College, bachelor’s degree from Troy University Montgomery, and master’s and doctorate degrees from Auburn University.  

Dr. Karolewics would proceed to spend 16 years working at Reid State Technical College and later Chattahoochee Valley Community College, advancing to vice president. “As my exposure to college life ignited a passion for higher education, I knew that I ultimately wanted to become a president of a community college, she said. At the time, opportunities for college presidency were not prominent for aspiring women. When the president’s position opened at Wallace State, she interviewed, and was the only candidate to receive a unanimous vote from the committee.

Dr. Karolewics with students

“Community colleges are magical places where we invest in students’ futures and their dreams, and that’s what happened to me. Community colleges are places where barriers to success are removed,” Dr. Karolewics said. 

She has led Wallace State to the highest heights. Under her leadership, Wallace State has been recognized among the top colleges in the nation for student success by the Aspen Institute, as well as an Achieving the Dream Leader College, National League for Nursing Center for Excellence, National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, NC3 Leadership School, and All-Steinway School. WSCC is ranked among the Top 3 in the South for workforce development, was selected as one of 30 colleges in the nation to lead the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Pathways Project, rated the most preferred community college in Alabama by high school students taking the ACT, and the No. 1 Online Community College in Alabama.  

Dr. Karolewics serves on the American Association of Community Colleges Board of Directors, and has held many community, state and national civic and professional leadership roles. She was appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey to the Alabama STEM Council, and by Lt. Gov. Ainsworth to the Alabama Commission on Artificial Intelligence and Associated Technologies. She has chaired the Alabama Community College System’s College Readiness Task Force, among other initiatives. Dr. Karolewics has been recognized among the Birmingham Business Journal’s Who’s Who in Education, and Alabama Media Group’s Women Who Shape the State. She is the recipient of the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction Award, The Cullman Times Distinguished Citizen of the Year, the Insight into Diversity Giving Back Award, the Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction by Phi Theta Kappa, and the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce’s Lucille Galin Public Service Award and Emma Marie Eddleman Citizen of the Year Award.

We are so proud to claim Dr. K, as she is affectionately known, as our student’s #1 supporter and the head Wallace State Lion! Please join us in celebrating her today!

Dr. Karolewics with student

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