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Alabama Community College System Marks 50th Anniversary with Alumni Scholarship Contest

Alumni invited to share their story for a chance to win a scholarship in their name for a deserving Alabama student

To mark the 50th anniversary of its founding, the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) is launching a scholarship contest that aims to capture inspiring real-life stories of success from former students of its 26 colleges.

“For five decades, the community college system has educated Alabama’s leaders, innovators and workers,” ACCS Chancellor Mark Heinrich said. “The stories that these people can tell will inspire the next generation of students to accomplish great things and make Alabama’s future even brighter.”  The roots of ACCS date back to 1963 when the state Legislature passed a series of acts that gave the State Board of Education oversight of junior colleges and trade schools operating in Alabama. Since then, the system’s institutions have become a pathway to a university degree, filled a critical workforce development role, and helped adults earn their high school equivalency credential.

To display student success stories, the system today launched AlabamasFuture.com, a website where alumni can submit their written or video testimonial to share how their Alabama Community College System education has helped them to succeed in their career and influenced their impact on the community. One alumnus who submits a story will be honored with a $5,000 scholarship in the alumnus’ name to benefit a student from his or her Alabama high school alma mater who plans to attend an ACCS college in 2014.

The real-life stories of nearly 20 ACCS alumni already are included on the website, including tales of people who used a community college education to overcome long odds, land their dream job, start a new business or launch a new career.

In the Gadsden area, this includes Jana Vallejo, who dropped out of high school to raise a family and later obtained her GED and enrolled at Gadsden State Community College. Today, she is a full-time psychology instructor at Gadsden State.  “Gadsden State has changed my life,” she said.  Acting President William O. Blow said, “We hope that our former students will share their success stories to encourage others to pursue a college education.   We are here to meet the needs of the communities that we serve and offer an affordable quality education.”

Stories captured on AlabamasFuture.com will be shared on the ACCS Facebook page and official Twitter channel, and those who enter are encourage to share their stories with family and friends through their personal social networks as well. The winner of the scholarship contest will be selected based on the answer to the following question: How have you used the education you received as an ACCS student to strengthen your life and your community?

Submissions will be accepted on the site through January 10, 2014 and a list of finalists, selected with input from a panel of six ACCS college presidents, will be posted by January 24. (Testimonials can still be submitted after Jan. 10, but they will not be eligible for the alumni scholarship contest.) .

Participants must have attended an ACCS institution for at least two semesters.  The contest winner will be announced in February. For more information on the contest or to submit your story, go to AlabamasFuture.com.

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The Alabama Community College System is the state’s largest system of public higher education and the state’s most affordable and accessible system of higher education. The system’s 26 public community and technical colleges, Marion Military Institute, and the Alabama Technology Network provide a broad array of educational services for hundreds of thousands of individuals, meeting diverse and changing local needs and fulfilling a vital function within their service areas.