On April 10, 2103, Grand Rapids Area Higher Education Network hosted the 13th annual Outstanding Adult Learner Award ceremony and reception celebrating the accomplishments and achievements of adult and nontraditional students at colleges and universities throughout the Grand Rapids area. There were 11 award recipients from the 11 member schools of GRAHEN. These students have the extraordinary ability and determination to successfully balance jobs, classes, families, and community involvement. A winner from each school is selected with the help of nominations from faculty and staff.
The 2013 OAL award recipient from Grand Rapids Community College is Paul Drenth.
Paul Drenth has made himself into a successful adult learner in a short amount of time. He has remained focused on his goal of securing a highly coveted spot in the Ferris State University Doctor of Pharmacy program, which he achieved and will undertake this upcoming fall. After enduring the effects of the automotive industry’s downsizing measures, Paul made the bold decision to return to school and begin a new journey in life which ultimately resulted in a great personal and academic achievement. His commitment to his family strongly motivated him to accomplish his goals.
Paul has remained connected and involved in the community throughout his busy time as a student at GRCC. He gives back to the community by participating in Habitat for Humanity endeavors, volunteering his electrical expertise for his fellow church members, assisting with youth sports and career days as well as supporting the Multiple Sclerosis Society charity through fund raising and care of those with the disease.
Paul’s hard work in his classes has earned him all A’s for the past 11 semesters at GRCC. Peers often look to Paul for academic support and guidance and follow his example in the classroom. One of Paul’s professors, Dr. Jennifer Batten, commented that Paul “is easily in the top 5 percent of all the students that I have taught at GRCC.”
This year also brought additional pride to GRCC as one of our own staff members won the Outstanding Adult Learner Award as well.
Miguel Espinoza, who works at GRCC’s Lakeshore Campus in Holland, is in the Master of Social Work graduate program at Western Michigan University-Grand Rapids. He has worked hard to maintain a high grade-point average in this program, while remained devoted to community involvement and certainly his commitment to excellent customer service and student support at GRCC. “Miguel feels that through social work he will best be able to utilize his bilingual and bicultural skills assisting those who most need the help, empowering them to bring out their creative talents to live truly meaningful lives, while making a positive impact and contribution to society.”
Congratulations, Paul and Miguel!