One in five GRCC students have tuition covered by a grant or scholarship program; the FAFSA form is the key

GRCC English class.

One in five Grand Rapids Community College students has tuition covered by a grant or scholarship program this semester, removing cost as an obstacle to a life-changing education.

Many more students could take advantage of free-tuition programs if they complete the FAFSA – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The FAFSA is required to tap into federal, state and college programs that cover tuition, and GRCC has specialists and resources to guide students and families through the process. This online form requires financial and tax information for students and, if the students are dependents, from families.

“The FAFSA is the key that can unlock opportunities many students don’t know are available for them,” said Kristi Welling, GRCC’s associate director of Enrollment Services and president of the Michigan Student Financial Aid Association.

“We don’t want anyone to miss out on a life-changing college education. GRCC has specialists who can help students and families navigate the application and learn about ways to potentially lower or even eliminate college costs.”

The FAFSA can be completed at using a computer, tablet or mobile phone. The U.S. Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid also has information for students and families available at Students also can download the MyStudentAid app that is available via IOS or Android as another way to complete the FAFSA. The form can usually be completed in under an hour.

Students can connect with GRCC financial aid specialists by phone at (616) 234-4030; email at; or virtually or in-person by appointment.

The state Treasury Department’s MI Student Aid team is hosting virtual college financial aid nights. Sessions will be available on Feb. 22-24 from 6:30- 8 p.m. Registration and information is available online.

Of the 11,376 students enrolled at GRCC in the Winter 2022 semester, 2,346 – nearly 21% — have their tuition covered.

The Michigan Reconnect and Futures for Frontliners programs cover the cost of in-district tuition for eligible students. The Grand Rapids Promise Zone covers education expenses for students living in the city and graduating from public, public charter, and private schools based in Grand Rapids.

The Grand Rapids Community College Foundation also requires a FAFSA for students to be eligible for scholarships. The foundation awarded $1.4 million in scholarships last year to GRCC students. The priority deadline to apply for a foundation scholarship is March 15. Information and universal applications are available at

The FAFSA also is required for students to receive federal Pell Grants, which can cover all expenses for some students.

Here to Help: Jamillya Hardley is an advocate working to create a sense of belonging for all GRCC students

Jamillya Hardley

Always remember, at GRCC, you are surrounded by people who want you to be successful and are ready to walk with you on your educational pathway. We are here to help!

Meet Jamillya Hardley. Jamillya is committed to social justice and advocacy and is working to create a sense of belonging for all GRCC students. As assistant director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Jamillya enjoys learning about GRCC students so she can create opportunities for them to have a voice, and help them as they continue their academic, professional and personal journey.

“My work includes serving our GRCC students, staff, faculty and the Grand Rapids community by creating programs, training, events and other initiatives that educate, strengthen awareness and create spaces that welcome all to be their authentic true selves,” Jamillya said.

“I have a role that serves students, and specifically offers mentorship, programming and student development through a DEI lens, supporting and challenging students, staff and faculty. It is always important to note that I hold a role where I can operate as a change agent, advocate for all, and create spaces for conversations that aren’t typically happening inside the classroom. Being present and accessible is something I take pride in, so whenever there is an opportunity to support, attend, or be present at programs or events happening on campus, I make my best effort to show up!”

Jamillya knows through experience it is important for college students to have a lot of people on campus rooting for them and supporting them. As a student at University of Michigan working towards a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Jamillya found support and career inspiration playing on the women’s basketball team.

“My support from the court initiated my passion for working with college students,” Jamillya said. “I have a strong passion for working with student-athletes and am excited to lead GRCC’s new Champions for Diversity Initiative. This program will create community connections by having our very own student-athletes impact different community service opportunities. I believe athletes are great role models and have remarkable stories to share off the court or field. Teaching all students to use their voice, learn more about their intersecting identities, and stand up for injustice are all valuable in student development. Creating discussions and training will also be a pivotal part of the Champions for Diversity Initiative.”

Jamillya is most passionate about the parts of her work that allow her to connect with GRCC students and employees, and build relationships in our community. And she is looking forward to continuing to learn from students, her team in ODEI and the GRCC community.

“I have always been a firm believer in being a teacher and a learner,” Jamillya said. “There is always room to grow when it comes to DEI work, and I am very grateful to work in an office where I can constantly be challenged and pushed to learn new things every day.”

Jamillya attended Grand Rapids Christian High school. She played sports, focused on academics, and earned a full-ride scholarship to U of M. She continued her education at Grand Valley State University where she earned her master’s in the College of Student Affairs Leadership Higher Education program, and strengthened her ties to GRCC.

“I have always had a connection to GRCC,” Jamillya said. “During my master’s program, I volunteered as an assistant coach helping out the Women’s Basketball program. I loved having a role where I was more than just a basketball coach. I served as a mentor, role model, life coach, motivator, advisor and more for the team.” 

After her master’s program, Jamillya grew her career in student affairs gaining experience in student conduct, academic advising, career development and athletics. Most recently she worked as a residence life administrator and an adjunct professor at GVSU.

She said working with GRCC Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer B. Afeni McNeely Cobham and the ODEI team “has been a phenomenal transition, so far!”

“I am proud to be a part of this team, connect with students and be a part of something greater, making a difference!”

You can learn more about the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at and contact the office via email at or phone at (616) 234-3390.

GRCC women’s basketball team keeps conference championship hopes alive

Grace Lodes making a basket.

Grand Rapids Community College’s women’s basketball team kept its conference championship chances alive with a 68-60 victory over the visitors from Kalamazoo Valley Community College. The GRCC’s men’s team made a great second half comeback, but fell just short, 91-80.

Sally Merrill tied a career-high with 15 rebounds to go with her team-high 20 points for the women’s team. 

GRCC, one of the best rebounding teams in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association, out rebounded the Cougars 54-42, and had a staggering 21-3 advantage in second chance points.

Grace Lodes put up triple-double-like numbers for the second consecutive game with 10 points, eight rebounds and seven points. Karissa Ferry had seven points and eight rebounds while point guard Marlene Bussler added 15 points and seven rebounds.

“Proud of our kids again finding a way to win when we were challenged,” Coach David Glazier said. “Credit to Kalamazoo Valley. That group is playing well and it understands its roles. It was a quality, late season MCCAA Western Conference win that was important to get.”

GRCC improved to 16-9 overall and stayed in second place in the conference with a 12-3 record.  The Cougars dropped to 5-16 overall and 5-11 in conference play.

KVCC’s men’s team jumped out to a 14-point lead and never looked back despite a valiant effort down the stretch by the Raiders. 

“Great effort from our sophomores to help us go toe to toe with one of the top teams in the conference,” Coach Joe Fox said. “These games are great learning experiences for our young guys, but we have to be able to do the little things down the stretch. Looking forward to celebrating our sophomores on Monday night, who have been great representatives of GRCC on and off the court.”

Andrew Moore, one of the league’s top scorers, connected on three free throws with four minutes left, making it just a two-point deficit. But that was as close as his team would get.

Moore scored 25 points on 9 of 16 from the floor and 6 of 8 from the free throw line.

Ryel Daye played all 40 minutes, finishing with 16 points and a team-high 12 rebounds.  Nyuon Nhial was nearly perfect from the floor, going 7 of 8, scoring 16 points, but was limited by foul trouble and played just 19 minutes.

The men’s team’s record drops to 9-18 overall, 4-12 in the conference. KVCC improved to 21-7 and 12-4. 

GRCC will have just one day off before hitting the hardwood at Hunsberger Arena again on Feb. 21 against Lake Michigan College. This will be the regular season finale for both teams.  

My Story Started at GRCC: Assistant Attorney General Ben Holwerda says success ‘would not have been possible’ without GRCC

Ben Holwerda smiling.

Ben Holwerda didn’t really know what he wanted to do with his life, but that didn’t matter at GRCC.

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

“GRCC not only gave me the space and freedom to explore my academic curiosities, it equipped me with the foundational skills to succeed in whatever career I wanted,” Holwerda said.

After receiving his associate degree in 2010 – with fond memories of Raider Grille breakfasts – he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and then a Juris Doctorate from William & Mary Law School.

While a law student, he worked as an intern with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He also competed in moot court competitions around the country. In 2017, he passed the bar exam on his first try.

Holwerda composed draft opinions and advised on law and case disposition as a clerk with Michigan’s 49th Circuit Court until becoming an assistant attorney general in 2018.

“I am truly blessed to be where I am today,” he said. “However, it would not have been possible without the skills and knowledge that I obtained from GRCC.

“GRCC laid the foundation for my career as an attorney and as a public servant, teaching me to think critically about issues and to write and speak persuasively.”

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

GRCC exhibit explores the idea of memory through award-winning artist Damian Goidich’s work over more than a decade

Pictures in Grand Rapids Community College’s Paul Collins Art Gallery

The latest exhibit in Grand Rapids Community College’s Paul Collins Art Gallery explores the idea of memory through an award-winning artist’s work over more than a decade.

“Now and Then,” featuring the work of Damian Goidich, runs through March 1 in the gallery, on the fourth floor of Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, 143 Bostwick Ave. NE.

Goidich, who has taught drawing at GRCC, won a Juror Award in the 2018 West Michigan Regional Arts Competition. He was awarded an art residency in Maine in 2013 and 2014, and received the Ferris State University MFA Excellence in Studio Art Purchase Award in 2013. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ferris State University’s Kendall College of Art and Design, where he served as an adjunct instructor. 

His GRCC exhibit is split between “Then,” covering his work from 2010 to 2014, and “Now,” from 2015 to the present.

“My older artwork is based on memory and the act of remembering,” he said. “Memories are an integral part of our inner monolog, and how we interpret these memories continues to influence and partially define who we are in the present.”

The more recent pieces echo the themes of memory and perception but are more fragmented and abstract.

“In my mind, I see the past in a very particular way – like peering through a fog or a wet window,” Goidich said. “It’s there in my consciousness, but indistinct, hard to see clearly. Charcoal proved to be the most effective material to get what I was looking for as I attempted to blur, fragment, reveal and obscure the abstract shapes and shadows that I see within my memories.”

The Collins Art Gallery has free admission and is open 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

TechSmith Knowmia decommissioning March 1, 2022

On March 1, 2022, GRCC’s TechSmith Knowmia site will be permanently shut down. Videos that are hosted on TechSmith Knowmia will no longer be accessible and any Blackboard links still pointing to those videos will no longer work. Videos not previously migrated or downloaded prior to that date will be permanently deleted and unrecoverable.

GRCC has switched from using TechSmith Knowmia to Panopto for our video hosting. Any video uploaded to TechSmith Knowmia prior to 8/14/2021 has already been migrated to Panopto. Any videos uploaded to TechSmith Knowmia after 8/14/2021, that are still needed, will need to be downloaded prior to March 1st. Here is a tutorial walking through that process.

As a reminder, most of your Blackboard links to TechSmith Knowmia videos were updated at the end of December 2021. However, we were unable to update all links, so some links will need to be updated manually (see bullet points below).

TechSmith Knowmia video links that were not updated in Blackboard:

  • Any link to TechSmith Knowmia added to your Blackboard course in 2022.
  • Any link to a video that was uploaded to TechSmith Knowmia on August 14th or after.  These videos were not migrated to Panopto and will need to be manually moved to Panopto (or another video hosting solution) and the Blackboard links to the videos updated accordingly.
  • Any link that is to a TechSmith Knowmia Collection.  The concept of Collections doesn’t exist in Panopto, however you can link to a Panopto folder, which can contain multiple videos.
  • Any link that is utilizing the TechSmith Knowmia Quizzing feature with Blackboard grade integration.  Links to videos containing quizzes could be updated, but there isn’t a way to update the quizzing/grading integration automatically.  If you want to continue using quizzing in your videos, you can utilize Panopto Quiz.
  • Any link to TechSmith Knowmia content that returns a “Media Missing” or “Page Not Found” error.  These errors are most likely because the video was deleted in TechSmith Knowmia, but not the reference in Blackboard.  If the video no longer exists in TechSmith Knowmia, then the video will not exist in Panopto.  The link will need to be updated to an alternative video or removed, since it’s currently broken.
  • Any link to a TechSmith Knowmia video that was created by importing from YouTube.  These links will need to be updated to point directly to the video in YouTube.  An alternative option would be to download the YouTube video, upload it to Panopto, and then update your Blackboard link to point to the video now in Panopto.
  • Any link to TechSmith Knowmia that is part of a course restored after 1/1/2022.  The TechSmith Knowmia links in the restored course will need to be manually updated to point to Panopto.

We are asking you to review all your courses/organizations to ensure all links are updated accordingly prior to March 1st 2022.  In addition to reviewing your courses/organizations, you may need to adjust the sharing privileges on your Panopto videos and/or folders, to ensure they can be accessed from Blackboard.  For any assistance or questions on how to manually update your links in Blackboard or how to adjust the Panopto folder/video sharing, please contact DLIT via email at or via phone at (616) 234-3205. 

If you haven’t started using Panopto, we highly recommend attending a training session, watching a webinar, or reviewing resources on Panopto as soon as you can. We have listed some Panopto recorded webinars and resources below. You can also sign into Panopto at any time at, where you will find some getting started videos. Panopto also provides direct support to all employees and students via Panopto’s Support Portal.

Panopto Getting Started Resources:

Panopto Basic Training Recorded Webinars:

Panopto Weekly Q&A Virtual Office Hours:

Panopto Support:

  • or (855) 765-2341.
    • Talk to Panopto Support via phone or chat, submit a ticket, search knowledgebase, and access Panopto resources.  

GRCC In the News 02/21/2022

Governor Whitmer Makes Appointments to Boards and Commissions


LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the following appointments to the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board “Children’s Trust Fund”, Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan, Michigan Board of Veterinary Medicine, Electronic Recording Commission, State Historic Preservation Review Board,Horse Racing Advisory Commission, Public Health Advisory Council, and the Co-Chair of the Black Leadership Advisory Council. 

… Sonya M. Hernandez, of Muskegon, most recently served as an educator with the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System and ALAS coordinator and adjunct instructor at Grand Rapids Community College. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Sociology, a master’s degree in Educational Leadership, and an educational specialist degree, all from Grand Valley State University. Ms. Hernandez is reappointed to for a term commencing February 18, 2022 and expiring December 10, 2024. 

McCarthy takes on superintendent’s post, without the ‘interim’

2/18/22 (Kent Intermediate School District)

Thornapple Kellogg – Since being named interim superintendent in early September, Craig McCarthy essentially has been doing two jobs – that of assistant superintendent, which he has held for 3 ½ years, and the interim position filling in for Dan Remenap after he took a medical leave of absence Sept. 3.

… A graduate of the former Creston High School in Grand Rapids Public Schools, he earned an associate degree from Grand Rapids Community College, a bachelor’s in accounting from Michigan State University and a master’s from Western Michigan University. He acquired certificates in secondary education and vocational teaching from Aquinas College.

Universities link Native American homelands to campus sites

2/21/22 Great Lakes Echo (Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism)

Acknowledging Native American ties to the land that Michigan universities occupy can make a powerful statement honoring the traditional history and culture, a tribal leader says.

… Many higher education institutions in the state, including Northern Michigan, Michigan State and Grand Rapids Community College, have adopted acknowledgments to recognize Native American culture in their areas.

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

Over $1,000,000 available for our Students

Financial Aid representative working with student.

Please encourage the students you teach and support to complete the GRCC Scholarship application. They can fill out a single application to be considered for over three hundred scholarships!

These scholarships can provide them with free money to help cover 2022-23 GRCC tuition, books and fees. 

Students should apply for GRCC scholarships on our Scholarships webpage. The priority deadline is March 15, 2022. In order to maximize scholarship opportunities, students should also complete a 2022-23 FAFSA.