School News Network feature: Voca Ford earns high school diploma, GRCC associate degree — and is just 15

During the Tri County High School graduation ceremony last month, senior Voca Ford gave a speech on the importance of personal fulfillment.

“I focused on pushing everyone to find happiness in their lives and not focus on objective or perceived success,” said Voca, who was one of three valedictorians at the Howard City school. “I think that’s really the most important thing in life — to do something you actually enjoy doing.”

What personal success will look like for Voca is anyone’s guess, but it’s safe to say anything is possible. When she walked across the Tri County stage to receive her diploma, she had already done the same at Grand Rapids Community College, where she received her associate degree in general studies.

While that’s an impressive feat for any high school senior, Voca is just 15 years old and started taking college courses at age 12.

Voca — who her mom, Tyana Ford, describes as “always a precocious child” and “like a sponge” — moved up several grade levels as a child, beginning with third-grade reading classes while in kindergarten. 

“I’ve always really enjoyed learning. It’s a weird thing to say because I feel a lot of life is just learning and adapting to what is around you,” said Voca, noting that her mother introduced her to math and reading very early on. “I really like the challenge of learning new things and broadening my horizons … Just learning as much as you can with as much time as you’re given is really important to me.”

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Lauren Ferullo brings more than 20 years of leadership to role of new GRCC athletic director

Lauren Ferullo smiling.

Lauren Ferullo will be Grand Rapids Community College’s new athletics director, bringing more than 20 years of experience in athletic leadership to a program with nationally ranked teams coming off highly successful seasons.

Ferullo has been Davenport University’s assistant athletic director for compliance since 2010, and held a similar role at Lake Erie College in Ohio. 

“Lauren has a proven track record of leadership and will do an outstanding job guiding the Athletic Program,” President Bill Pink said. “For more than 100 years, GRCC has been an institution where student-athletes have come to gain an excellent education while working with some of the very best coaches in the business. We’re proud of that tradition, and I know Lauren is the right person to lead the next generation of Raiders.”

At Davenport, Ferullo worked with students and staff to ensure athletes maintained academic and other responsibilities to be eligible for competition. She served as the primary liaison between the Athletics Department and other departments with compliance responsibilities, including the registrar, Admissions and Financial Aid.

Ferullo prepared the university for its transition from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics to NCAA Division II.

“I’m excited to be a part of the proud GRCC Raiders tradition,” she said. “Our goal is to prepare students to be successful both on and off the court. I want to ensure we provide them with the best possible student-athlete experience.”

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Retirement bio of Gloria Thomas

Gloria has worked for GRCC for 16 years. It has been a wonderful journey spent in the Academic Testing center as the Lead Testing Proctor for professional certification exams to the business community in Michigan.

Her fondest memory in the Testing Center is the pivotal role she had in initiating the accreditation of the GRCC Academic Testing Center with the National College Testing Association (NCTA).

Way to go Gloria!

Gloria says: “My GRCC family has always been a true family to me throughout the years. Their support and flexibility has given me a sense of belonging since the first day I began work for GRCC.”

Her retirement plans include fun in the sun, and relaxation in Florida, enjoying friends and family!

Congratulations Gloria! – We wish you all the best!

Retirement bio of Mark Vogel

Mark Vogel smiling while holding computer parts.

Mark began working for GRPS 40 years ago and has worked at GRCC since it split off from the public schools. He has held a long list of positions which showcases his variety of skills and strengths: AV Repair Technician at the GRPS Service Building, AV Manager and the GRPS Book Depot, TV Engineer for the GRPS Media Center, TV Engineer for GRCC Media Technologies, Team Leader for LRTS Gateway (Campus Works Era) and Directory of GRCC Media Technologies.

Mark says there are too many stories to list but “I’ve really enjoyed working with the best media team in the state!”

His plans for retirement include spending more time with family and friends. Mark wants to share the following sentiment: “Thank you all for making my career at GRCC so special! GRCC is a fantastic place to work, don’t take it for granted!!!”

Congratulations Mark! – We wish you all the best!

Many thanks for the 2021 Van and Marinus Swets Travel Award from Mary Johnson!

People on a Bermuda  beach.

It was wonderful being a Swets Travel Award Winner this year and being able to help fund some trips after all the pandemic changes!

May brought two trips to my calendar. One to Bermuda, where there was beauty to be seen both above and below ground, and another to Chicago by train, where we saw the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit.  This exhibit will also be traveling to Detroit in the fall, with huge moving projections of Van Gogh’s works to enjoy.  Below are a few pictures to show you a bit of what I enjoyed.

With things opening up again, keep on traveling!  Thank you to Van and Marinus for their wonderful gift to GRCC employees!

Immersive Van Gogh exhibit.
Underground cave in Bermuda.

Tech Tips: Acceptable Use Policy

Do you know what is allowed and not allowed to be done with your GRCC computer and systems? Check out the following video where Kelly, from IT Customer Support, gives us an explanation of our Acceptable Use Policy.

Acceptable Use Agreement

For more information and helpful tips, please visit the IT Customer Support Portal or contact the IT Customer Support Desk at x4357.

If you have a suggestion or a Technology Tip you think can be useful, you can submit them by emailing 

GRCC In the News, 06-24-2021

A Jump for Summer?

June 24, 2021; Inside Higher Ed

Spring enrollment for undergraduates this year was down nearly 5 percent from last year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. That is roughly 10 times the decline experienced from spring 2019 to spring 2020. Community colleges were the hardest hit, losing more than 9 percent of their students.

… At Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan, for example, summer enrollment is up nearly 9 percent from last year’s session and 3.7 percent from 2019, a spokesperson for the college said. The term doesn’t start until June 29, leaving room for some additional sign-ups.

UM Names New Head of Equal Opportunity and Regulatory Compliance

June 23, 2021; University of Mississippi website

OXFORD, Miss. – Kimberly DeVries has been hired as the new director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Regulatory Compliance at the University of Mississippi.

Formerly director of Equal Opportunity Compliance at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan for the past six years, DeVries joins the university on Aug. 2.

New trustee appointed to Grand Rapids Community College board

June 23, 2021; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees has appointed Salvador Lopez to fill a vacancy on the board.

Grand Rapids Community College announces new athletic director

June 23, 2021; MLive

Lauren Ferullo will be Grand Rapids Community College’s new athletic director effective July 19.

…She is GRCC’s first female athletic director.

Grand Rapids Community College names new athletic director

June 23, 2021; FOX 17

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Lauren Ferullo will be Grand Rapids Community College’s new athletics director, the college announced Wednesday.

Summer course serves as bridge from high school to college

June 23, 2021; (Kent Intermediate School District)

In an upstairs classroom in GRCC’s Sneden Hall, Dana Sammons, head of the mathematics department, showed East Kentwood 2021 graduate Shi’Ann Moore how to complete a statistics problem.

Shi’Ann was eager to learn. If she scores high enough on a math placement test, she will be able to take the college-level math course as a GRCC student in the fall. To prepare, she is working to fill in a few gaps she has noticed in her learning as a result of the pandemic.