My Story Started at GRCC: After seeing ‘real world,’ Daniel Schoonmaker is trying to make it a better place

Daniel Schoonmaker smiling.

As a U.S. Marine and then a journalist, Daniel Schoonmaker has seen a lot of the “real world.” He’s now working to make that world a better place.

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.

Schoonmaker didn’t plan on going to GRCC; when he did enroll, he didn’t plan to be there for more than a semester.

“With all my friends that went away to school complaining about how their classes were being taught by grad students, I realized that GRCC was a better value,” he said. “Looking back, I don’t believe I had the emotional maturity to be successful at a four-year school at that point in my life. 

“Academics were not my priority those first two years. When I was focused, I was pursuing things that I thought I wanted – like being a police officer or a physician – and hating them. It took me some time to figure out who I wanted to be. GRCC was a great environment for that.”

Schoonmaker went overseas with the Marines after graduating from GRCC in 2002. After returning to Michigan, he was able to tap his experience at The Collegiate to get a job as a sportswriter and, later, as a business journalist. He was well-established when he enrolled at Aquinas College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and English.

He then turned his talents to public relations and marketing, serving as a sustainable business advocate and educator.

He’s now executive director of the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.

“My work is heavily focused on network development and movement building,” he said, “Creating momentum for climate leadersip, social justice and the creation of a circular economy in partnership with businesses and institutions.”

Schoonmaker is quick to credit GRCC for some of his success.

“A big part of that was learning to fail,” he said. “I dropped some classes. I got in trouble on some Collegiate assignments. I tried to work double shifts while carrying a full load of classes. On my very first day of class, I insulted a professor so bad he was ready to fail me on the spot.

“GRCC taught me the value of learning from your mistakes.”

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

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