Each year the Wallace State Alumni Association recognizes alumni who have demonstrated achievement within their field of work or expertise, community based service as a volunteer, and demonstrated commitment to Wallace State. Individuals are nominated by their peers, faculty, or community members to be recognized for their outstanding accomplishments. 

 2017 Outstanding Alumni Winner

Steve James : CEO/Founder   Cullman Native Steve James Delivers Hope Healing Through Kenya Relief   

Steve James

Steve James is the founder of the international relief organization, Kenya Relief. He was among five male students in the college’s first graduating nursing class of 25 students in 1975. He went on to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist with a successful career spanning 30 years in the field.

In 2002, Steve founded KenyaRelief.org in memory of his daughter, Brittany, who passed away the previous year. Brittany had sponsored a child in Kenya and had dreamed of visiting there. Steve’s visiting Kenya and founding Kenya Relief with his wife Greta was their tribute to her.     

KenyaRelief.org, which began as a small orphanage in Migori, Kenya, has grown to serve nearly 200 children today, many who continue to be orphans of AIDS. The organization has expanded to include a private K-7 elementary school, and the Kenya Relief Academy, which now educates 500 students each year with a waiting list to serve more. Kenya Relief’s Brase Vision and Medical Clinic, the most modern medical facility in the area, has treated more than 115,000 patients to date with thousands more served each year.

Today, Kenya Relief is still based in Cullman, Alabama, and recognized on par with the largest relief agencies in the world. Steve has mastered the organization of short-term medical and surgical missions and created a safe, sustainable program, which involves over 20 teams of missionaries each year who provide free and low cost medical services including, but not limited to, pediatrics, ophthalmology, and obstetrics/gynecology. James’s goal is to leave a legacy of hope for the people of western Kenya.


2016 Outstanding Alumni Winner

Gloria Williams

Gloria Williams was the first Lifetime Member of the Alumni Association and she served as President for five years. She established the first scholarship for women through the Little Black Dress Charity Bash. She is a graduate of Wallace State Community College and owner of Freedom Insurance Agency. In addition to Wallace, her community service includes: Cullman County Commission on Aging, Cullman Caring for Kids, HOPE Horses, Cullman Regional Medical Center Board Member, Cullman County Hospice Board Member, Field of Miracles Board Member, Cullman County Lions Club, Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce Board and Committee Member, Cullman County Schools Foundation Board Member, and Veteran’s Park. She received the Emma Marie Eddleman Citizen of the Year Award.

2014 Overall Outstanding Alumni Winner

        Martha Burchell

Martha Burchell came to Cullman in 1979 without a job and with two young sons.  She worked at a mill and then became an office manager at a bank.  During her years in banking her entrepreneurial spirit surfaced and she began what would become the biggest Welcome Wagon business in the State of Alabama.  She then began working for State Farm and after a while decided she wanted to have her own insurance agency.  Upon learning that she must have a college degree to do so she began classes at Wallace State and upon completion continued her studies at Athens State University.  She sold insurance by day and was a student by night.  She completed her degree in 1994, began working on the requirements to own her own agency, and in 1998 the Martha Burchell Nationwide Agency became another goal accomplished.  Since that time, she has been awarded the Alabama Nationwide Service Award, the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business Person of the Year Award, and is in the Top 10 Nationwide Agencies in the state.  Martha has also served as President and a Board member of the Cullman Area Kiwanis Club.  According to her nominator, “Martha continues to make a difference in the lives of the people in and around Cullman.  She came from humble beginnings and remains a humble human being that just happens to be a successful woman with an encouraging story to tell.  A story that should be required reading for anyone ready to toss in the towel and give up on their dreams.”   

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2014 Outstanding Alumni Nomination