GRCC celebrates Black History Month with a keynote address from LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the Black Voters Matter

LaTosha Brown smiling.

LaTosha Brown, an award-winning civil rights and voting rights activist, will offer the keynote address for this year’s Black History Month program hosted by Grand Rapids Community College’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

The virtual event, free and open to the public, will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m. Registration is available via Eventbrite at:

A 2019 fellow with the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, Brown is an organizer, philanthropic consultant, and political strategist with over 20 years of experience working in the non-profit and philanthropy sectors on a wide variety of issues related to political empowerment, social justice, economic development, leadership development, wealth creation, and civil rights.

Brown, a native of Selma, Ala., is also the co-founder of Black Voters Matter. This power-building southern-based civic engagement organization was instrumental in the 2017 Alabama U.S. Senate race and the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

“Ms. Brown’s work mirrors the activism of historical titans such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, and Dorothy Height,” said Dr. B. Afeni McNeely Cobham, GRCC’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. “Latosha’s commitment to expansive voter access has placed her at the epicenter of what some have defined as restrictive election reforms. The keynote address will explore the importance and impact of staying engaged in the democratic process of voting at every level.”

As a catalyst for change, thought leader and social strategist, Brown’s national and global efforts have been known to organize, inspire and catapult people into action.

In 2021, Glamour magazine recognized Brown in the ‘Women of the Year’ issue for her contribution to protect democracy. In previous years, she has received the White House Champion of Change Award, Spirit of Democracy Award, and the Louis Burnham Award for Human Rights.

My Story Started at GRCC: Bistro Bella Vita’s Tristan Walczewski says GRCC business, culinary classes prepared him for success

Tristan Walczewski sitting at a desk looking at a wine glass.

Tristan Walczewski believes in taking “intelligent risks.”

Start at Grand Rapids Community College and go anywhere. Every former student has a story to tell about how GRCC gave them the education and opportunity to be successful.

When an unconventional opportunity came along, Walczewski grabbed it, confident in all he’d learned at GRCC.

“My first year spent studying at GRCC was actually Music Education,” he said. “After revisiting my study, I chose to transition to business.”

Walczewski went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management, with a minor in international finance, from Davenport University.

Shortly after graduating, he decided to pursue a new goal: sommelier certifications. He earned an Advanced Sommelier Certification last year and hopes to gain a Master Sommelier Diploma in 2023. 

“I knew I wanted to do something unconventional, that was dynamic and fast-paced,” he said. “As I was completing my undergrad, an opportunity arose that I never considered as a career path and I was fortunate to be granted the opportunity to try it.”

He’s now general manager of Bistro Bella Vita in downtown Grand Rapids and beverage director for the dining establishment’s parent company, Essence Restaurant Group. In these two roles, he draws equally on what he’s learned in his sommelier studies and in business classes as GRCC.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my speech and communication course along with the very helpful Microsoft classes,” he said. “Professional communication and an understanding of finance are vital in any position.

“The GRCC professors were educated in their fields, and many were working actively in their field in addition to teaching, which I found to be helpful in understanding the real world application of the curriculum.”

Let GRCC help you start your story. The first chapter starts at

Interfaith Roundtable: Can there be good without a higher power?

The Interfaith Roundtable fosters intentional positive interaction and relationships using three pillars of Interfaith Literacy; developing an appreciative knowledge of another tradition, developing the ability to identify shared values between different traditions, and knowing the history of interfaith cooperation.

Join us on Wednesday, February 23 at Noon to discuss goodness in the presence or absence of faith.


Thank you edback

Versiti Phlebotomy Skills Scholarships will support GRCC students who train to collect life-saving blood donations

Versiti, which supplies life-saving blood for medical procedures in Michigan and four other Midwestern states, is funding Grand Rapids Community College scholarships to train the people who collect those donations.

The blood supplier plans to award four Versity Phlebotomy Skills Scholarships nnually to cover tuition for GRCC’s Phlebotomy Skills program. The first two scholarships are going to students in the latest session of the program, which started today.

Hannah Tuuri, Versiti Inc.’s talent acquisition specialist, said the organization hopes the scholarships encourage people in underrepresented populations to consider this rewarding career.

“Versiti is committed to building ethnic diversity within the donor population,” she said. “The scholarship is designed to help us develop diversity within our industry and teams to ensure that we reflect the population in which we serve.”

Linda Witte, program developer for GRCC’s health certificate programs, said demand for phlebotomists is projected to grow by 21% each year with 400 job openings annually. GRCC’s 10-week Phlebotomy Skills program is presented in a hybrid format, with lectures online and smaller groups of students meeting in person on the downtown campus for labs and demonstrations.

“This is a skill-building course,” Witte said. “About half of the people who come into this class are already working in health care, and the other half are looking for that entry-level job.”

Those who are interested in the Phlebotomy Skills program can find more information online.

Dr. Kathryn Mullins, vice president of College Advancement and executive director of the Grand Rapids Community College Foundation, said the Versiti Phlebotomy Skills Scholarships will encourage people to train for an important job, benefiting all of West Michigan.

“Community partners like Versiti are critical to GRCC’s role of providing people with opportunities for higher education and skills training,” she said.

Recording on Google Meets no longer available

Over the past year, we have all been accustomed to meeting with our students, coworkers, and teams through video conferencing. Many of us have recorded meetings so that others can rewatch the meetings if they need to.

Google has recently made a change to Google Meets and will no longer allow us to record Google meetings. But don’t worry, we can still record meetings with Zoom! 

When you record Zoom meetings to the cloud, they are automatically transferred to your Panopto account and stored in the meeting recordings folder. To access your Panopto account, login to MyGRCC and click on the Panopto tile. 

Zoom/Panopto Integration

Sharing a Panopto Video

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 

Sally Merrill scores 26 points, leads GRCC women’s basketball team to eighth-straight win

Sally Merrill playing basketball.

The Grand Rapids Community College women’s basketball team’s win streak is at eight games after Sally Merrill dropped in 26 points against Glen Oaks Community College on Monday. The men’s team struggled against the Vikings, losing 91-70.

Ten different members of the women’s team scored at least two points and every player grabbed at least one rebound in the 72-58 victory. 

“Hard fought win tonight against a talented and improving Glen Oaks team,” Coach David Glazier said.  “I felt we again had to fight through a slow start. But credit to our entire roster for stepping up and contributing when we needed it.”

Merrill led GRCC in scoring for the 12th time this season, shooting 10 of 19 from the floor and 5 of 6 from the free throw line.

The Raiders’ bench outscored their opposition 25-1, led by Allison Kellogg, who poured in eight points.

The win keeps GRCC all alone in second place in the MCCAA Western Conference with a 13-7 record, 9-1 in the conference.

GRCC’s men’s team shot 34% from the field compared to 52% for Glen Oaks. The team also was outscored by 30 points in the paint. 

Ten players scored in double digits during the game, including six from the Vikings, who were led by Qualen Pettus with 19 points off the bench.

The Raiders, who are 9-14 overall and 4-8 in the conference, were led by forward Nyuon Nhial, who scored a career-high 17 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.

Ryel Daye had his seventh double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

“In this league, you have to go into every game wanting to win, not expecting to win,” Coach Joe Fox said.  “I thought the guys from Glen Oaks executed and were focused, and I thought we were a bit on our heels. Thankfully it’s a quick turnaround to a big rematch game for us, and we get to take on a very good Jackson College team on Wednesday. Our guys will be ready.”

Both teams will be back on the Hunsberger Arena court to take on Jackson College on Feb. 9. 

GRCC In the News 02/08/2022

Phlebotomy scholarships now available at GRCC

2/7/22 WZZM

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — New scholarships are now available for Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) students who wish to study phlebotomy.

Ryel Daye using basketball to become a Tik Tok sensation

2/7/22 FOX 17

Ryel Daye was a standout at both football and basketball at East Kentwood and decided to hit the gridiron in college at Central Michigan.

… Daye came home and joined the GRCC basketball team playing 23 games two years ago averaging five points per game.

Homecoming 2022 activities include first Young Alumni Award winner, meals, and basketball

The introduction of Grand Rapids Community College’s first-ever Young Alumni Award winner, breakfast with presidents, and basketball games against rivals Kalamazoo Valley Community College are among the week of activities featured in this year’s Homecoming.

While a number of the activities are taking place remotely, others will be conducted in person with wellness protocols as the campus faces challenges created by the pandemic.

“There is truly something for everyone in this year’s Homecoming celebration,” said Lina Blair, director of the Office of Student Life. “We’re proud of who we are and what we do at GRCC. It’s exciting to recognize our alumni – and our future alumni – with activities that are fun, informative, and inspirational.”

Additional information is available at

Friday, Feb. 11:

  • It’s Spirit Day! Employees, students, alumni, families, and even pets are encouraged to show their spirit by wearing your GRCC attire. Take individual or team photos for a chance to win prizes.

Monday, Feb. 14:

  • GRCC’s first-ever Young Alumni Award winner will be announced on social media. The GRCC Foundation is honoring alumni age 40 and younger, highlighting accomplishments and sharing inspiring stories about how a GRCC education is vitally important to launch educational journeys and careers.
  • A virtual Student Organization Mixer is planned for 2-4 p.m. Representatives from groups across campus will be available using REMO and will share information about opportunities and activities.  Registration is available here.

Tuesday, Feb. 15:

  • Have breakfast with GRCC President Bill Pink, Student Alliance President Brendan Burke, and other student leaders. Grab-and-go meals will be available between 9 and 10:30 a.m. on the fourth floor of Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall.
  • Get vaccinated or boosted. We’re all fighting the pandemic together. GRCC’s latest vaccination and booster clinic is planned for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the fourth floor of Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall.
  • We’re celebrating leaders, events and opportunities during Black History Month. The GRCC Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is hosting a virtual keynote address at 6 p.m. featuring LaTosha Brown. She is a 2019 fellow with The Institute of Politics at Harvard University, is an award-winning organizer, philanthropic consultant, political strategist, and jazz singer with over 20 years of experience working in the non-profit and philanthropy sectors on a wide variety of issues related to political empowerment, social justice, economic development, leadership development, wealth creation, and civil rights. Details about registration are available here.

Wednesday, Feb. 16

  • Employees are invited to a Winter Warm-up presented by the GRCC Human Resources Department. Three kinds of soup will be available as a grab-and-go meal between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at Sneden Hall Room 103 and Student Center Room 234.
  • Students can participate in a BINGO night sponsored by the Campus Activities Board in the Raider Grill between 5:30 and 7 p.m.
  • Learn how to create a charcuterie board with alumni Chef Jennifer Fillenworth. Jennifer is executive chef at Roots Farmacy, a graduate, and an adjunct professor at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. You also watched her on television when the emerged victorious on Food Network’s “Supermarket Stakeout.” The free class will be on GRCC’s YouTube channel and go live at 7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 17

  • Leslie Tassell M-TEC employees are invited to a Winter Warm-up presented by the GRCC Human Resources Department. Three kinds of soup will be available as a grab-and-go meal between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the M-TEC.

Friday, Feb. 18

  • It’s Spirit Day! Show your Raider Pride by wearing your GRCC attire. The winner of the Raider Spirit photo contest will be announced.
  • Raiders on Ice! GRCC students, employees and alumni are invited to skate for free between 5 and 10 p.m. at Griff’s Ice House Address: 30 Coldbrook St NE in Grand Rapids.

Saturday, Feb. 19

  • The Big Game! The GRCC men’s and women’s basketball teams are taking on the rivals at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. The action will be available for viewing online. The women’s team tips off at 1 p.m., with the men’s team starting at 3 p.m.