As GRCC celebrates 100 years of meeting the educational needs of West Michigan during the 2014-15 academic year, the Grand Rapids Community College Foundation is celebrating 50 years of supporting GRCC students through scholarships. These milestones were celebrated at GRCC’s 100th Anniversary Gala on October 14.
The evening began as guests strolled through a living timeline depicting the people, images and events that defined each decade of the college’s history.
The program began with GRCC alumnus and spoken-word artist Azizi Jasper, whose performance of “Tomorrow, Today” welcomed guests to celebrate what GRCC will be for the next 100 years. Judge Sara Smolenski, another alumna, hosted the event and welcomed to the stage John Kennedy, Gov. Rick Snyder, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and GRCC Foundation Board Chairman Dave Custer. Each shared his or her perspective of the powerful impact the college has on West Michigan.
Mayor George Heartwell lead an invocation before dinner, which was prepared and served with the assistance of GRCC’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education students and faculty. Throughout the evening, guests were entertained by GRCC Music Department students from the Madrigal Singers, Wind Ensemble and Concert Choir.
During his keynote speech, President Dr. Steven C. Ender emphasized the role the college plays in allowing students from all walks of life access to a high-quality education — whether they earn credentials and begin a career, or transfer to a four-year college or university. Dr. Ender went on to say that sometimes a scholarship means the difference between a student attending college or not, and announced that $1.3 million had been raised over the past 18 months for the newly established “Promise for the Future” scholarship fund in honor of GRCC’s 100th anniversary. This total includes contributions from 84 gala sponsors, who when combined with individual ticket sales, were represented by more than 960 guests at the gala.
The GRCC Foundation awards approximately 800 student scholarships annually, which equates to more than $600,000 in scholarship awards each year. The “Promise for the Future” scholarship will allow the foundation to grant more scholarships each year.