My Story Started at GRCC: Ben Gerlofs says GRCC’s flexibility allowed him to discover his passion, and a career in Hong Kong

Ben Gerlofs.

Ben Gerlofs was a man without a plan.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that GRCC offered me a life-changing opportunity,” he said. “As an underperforming high school student without a plan for college, I bounced around for a couple of years, through several part-time and full-time jobs before deciding to apply to GRCC. Despite my poor grades and lack of preparation, GRCC accepted me.”

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 offered Gerlofs what he needed: flexibility.

“The flexibility of my AA degree plan allowed me to explore a wide variety of classes, which was extremely important to me as I had no idea what to do with my life at that point and no clear interests or ambitions.

“I took courses in yoga, American history, composition, poetry, math and economics, among a few other subjects, and eventually found my way to geography, which – much to my surprise – became a lifelong pursuit.”

GRCC’s Geography program included training in the use of scientific equipment, development of skills in map reading and interpretation, field trips, and valuable mentoring.

Gerlofs also found help with his post-GRCC plans: “The attention and training I was given at GRCC prepared me to apply for scholarships and other support to continue my education, which allowed me to complete my BA degree at a highly reduced cost and to complete my MA and Ph.D degrees at no financial cost to me.”

After earning his associate degree in 2010, he completed a bachelor’s degree at Aquinas College, a master’s degree from Syracuse University and a doctorate from Rutgers University.

Gerlofs has worked as a lecturer, postdoctoral researcher and visiting professor at Queens College, Princeton University and Dartmouth College. He’s researched gentrification, urban politics, political revolution and urban change in Chicago, Mexico City, Hong Kong and Singapore. His first book is scheduled for publication next year.

He’s now a geography professor at the University of Hong Kong, specializing on urban geography in his teaching and research.

Gerlofs traces his purpose and success to his GRCC start.

“GRCC is the place that gave me a chance I hadn’t earned, convinced me that I had potential I hadn’t explored, and gave me the tools to build a future I couldn’t have imagined.”

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

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