My GRCC Story: Morgan Brink says Michigan Reconnect provided ‘launchpad’ to earn a college degree, reinvent herself

Morgan Brink smiling, standing with husband and two children on a bridge.

School was never Morgan Brink’s thing.

“Honestly, I barely graduated from high school,” said Brink, now 32. “But today, I’m taking Honors classes at Grand Rapids Community College — and I’m actually on the Dean’s List!”

So, why the turnaround? Brink credits her new love of learning to three things: maturity, a strict homework schedule and Michigan Reconnect.

Michigan Reconnect is a state scholarship program that provides free in-district tuition for those 25 and older who don’t already have a college degree. This fall, 998 students enrolled at GRCC through Reconnect.

The scholarships are changing the lives of people all over the state.

“After my husband and I lost our screen-printing business during the pandemic, I knew I had to reinvent myself,” said Brink, who lives in Wyoming with her husband, Brandon, and their two children, 5-year-old Thea and 2-year-old Beau.

“As a mom, you really don’t want to take away resources from your kids. But thanks to Reconnect, I can get my degree for free, and it won’t be a financial burden on my family.”

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GRCC projecting 5% enrollment increase for Winter 2022 classes; there’s still time to enroll

Student walking across Dr Juan Olivarez Plaza, near the Student Center.

Grand Rapids Community College enrollment is expected to increase nearly 5% from a year ago, and students still have time to enroll before Winter 2022 classes start on Jan. 10.

As of this week, 10,186 students have enrolled for the Winter 2022 semester, up 4.8% from the 9,715 students a year ago.

About 50% of GRCC’s almost 2,000 available courses are being offered in person, in Grand Rapids and at the new Lakeshore Campus in Holland Township.

Two state programs covering the cost of in-district tuition continue to have an impact, helping students start — or restart – a transformational college education.

“We’re excited to see more people are coming back and enrolling in their first college semester to take advantage of opportunities for a GRCC degree or certificate program to advance in their careers,” said Tina Hoxie, GRCC’s associate provost and dean of Student Affairs. “Students can take as few as two classes a semester to access state financial aid programs and keep moving forward, working around their busy schedules. There is still time to look at courses that are available, and take those next steps.”

Enrollment in Fall 2021 semester credit-seeking classes was up 4.4%.

GRCC has 903 Winter Semester students enrolled through Michigan Reconnect, which is available to residents ages 25 and older who do not already have a college degree. Additional information is available at, by emailing or by calling (616) 234-3366.

So far, 1,477 students have enrolled through Futures for Frontliners, which was available to residents who worked in essential fields during the state’s 2020 COVID-19 shutdown.

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Tech Tip: Google Calendar Focus Time

Google has been working on updating various applications to make them more accessible for users no matter where they are working. The latest update is the ability to add focus time in your calendar. This allows you to add a block in your calendar where no one can schedule a meeting with you and indicates to people who have access to your calendar that you would like to work uninterrupted to focus. 

Instructions to Block off Focus Time:

  1. Navigate to
  2. Select the Create + button in the left corner
  3. Add a title for your focus time
  4. Below the title, select Focus Time 
  5. Add in the dates and time
  6. Select the check box if you choose to automatically decline any meeting requests that come in during your focus time. 
    1. Choose to either Only new meeting invitations or New and existing meetings
    1. Enter a message that will be sent to anyone trying to set up an appointment to you during this block
  7. Add any other details such as location, calendar, or description.
  8. Select Save

       As Google updates more of our applications, we will communicate the changes as quickly as possible to allow for our customers!

GRCC In the News 12/21/2021

News 8 at 5:30 p.m.

12/20/21 WOOD TV

(Beverly Drake’s passing.)

WMU education professors receive $29.5M grant to support Grand Rapids children, families

12/20/21 Western Michigan University press release

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A $29.5 million grant will help two Western Michigan University faculty members expand educational opportunities for thousands of children and their families. Drs. Patricia Reeves and Jianping Shen were awarded the grant through the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods Program. One of the largest federal grants in University history, it will fund the Grand Rapids Southeast Promise Neighborhood Project.

… Western along with a group of partners, including Baxter Community Center, Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative, Family Futures, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Kent Intermediate School District and LINC UP, will create a complete continuum of cradle-to-career solutions for both educational programs and family and community supports, with great schools at the center. 

Annese: “The catalyst of our greatness is love”

12/20/21 The Pioneer (Big Rapids)

BIG RAPIDS – Ferris State’s national championship in football was rewarding for so many reasons for head coach Tony Annese.

… Annese recorded a 195-41 (.826) mark as a head coach in four stops at the high school level before totaling a 30-4 (.882) record in three years as the head coach at Grand Rapids Community College.  His overall career mark at all levels is 325-61 (.842) to date and includes three prep state championships and two national JUCO crowns. He claimed his 300th win in 2018 with the national semifinal victory at Minnesota State.

State issues $2M in grants to build talent pipeline with training centers, employers


The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity has issued more than $2 million in grants designed to build a more robust pipeline between adult education and workforce training programs and local businesses that are looking to hire.

(This article is illustrated with a courtesy photo from GRCC.)

The GRCC family extends condolences to Vicki Janowiak

Condolences to Vicki Janowiak, GRCC’s executive director for operational planning, on the loss of her mother.

Janice “Jan” Vollink, 84, of Holland passed away on Saturday, Dec. 18.

Mrs. Vollink was proud to have been a charter member of Haven Christian Reformed Church and a current member of First Reformed Church of Zeeland. She married Bob Vollink in 1959 and after being a stay-at-home mom for nearly 15 years, Jan re-entered the workforce. She enjoyed working at the Dutchess shop in Zeeland, and then spent 20-plus years as a successful travel agent, allowing her to travel the world with her husband and extended family.

Mrs. Vollink always said “work is what I do best,” and when the travel agency closed she worked for another 20 years at Michigan West Shore nursery and became part of a new work family there. A funeral honoring Mrs. Vollink is planned for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21, at Yntema Funeral Home, 251 S. State St., Zeeland. Visitation is planned for 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., also at the funeral home. Memorial Contributions may be given to Zeeland Christian Schools.