Operation United photos

15 GRCC faculty and staff members participated in Operation United, a veteran-focused service project of home and yard improvements coordinated by United Way. 

The team spent the morning pulling weeds, spreading mulch (so much mulch!), trimming hedges, and doing general yard maintenance at a veteran’s home on the NE side of Grand Rapids.

Volunteers were also able to earn four hours of professional development for this community service project. This program is just one of the ways GRCC gives back to the community!

GRCC student Stephanie Duron says Futures for Frontliners ‘changed her whole life,’ finding college success on third try

Stephanie Duron admits her first go-around at GRCC a dozen years ago was a bit of a mess.

After graduating from Cedar Springs High School in the spring of 2009, she decided to live at home and become a fulltime student at GRCC that fall.

“I was a pretty typical high school student,” she said. “Involved in some plays, decent grades. And I was of that generation where we were told you had to go to college after high school. So that’s what I did.”

Part of her Cedar Springs experience included a TV production class, so she figured she’d study communications in college and maybe end up in a TV production job of some sort after graduation.

“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she said.

Her first semester saw her taking 12 credit hours but without some of the drive and motivation she’d had in high school. She soon realized she had probably taken on too much.

“I passed maybe two of the four courses,” she said. “So, I was on academic probation, and instead of coming back, I decided to take some time off.”

She returned again for the winter semester in 2011. And again, things did not go well. This time she ended up on academic suspension, so she decided to enter the workforce on a fulltime basis and began a series of jobs – first some retail positions and eventually administrative assistant type posts at a law firm and a hospital.

Soon enough she began to feel the nudges to go back to school and get a degree. A career in human resources – based on experiences she had had with both good HR people and bad HR people – intrigued her.

But she was married, had a couple of kids, money was tight, and she tried to resist those nudges.

Until she heard about the Futures for Frontliners scholarship program. The state program covers the cost of in-district tuition for people who worked in essential fields during the state’s COVID-19 shutdown.  While the application period is closed for Futures for Frontliners, many residents age 25 and above are eligible to attend GRCC with in-district tuition covered through the Michigan Reconnect program. 

Frontliners was exactly what Duron needed to turn the nudges into a push.

“I had two little girls,” she said. “And I remember I would often think about how they looked up to me and what I would be showing them if I went back (to college). That I’d be showing them it’s never too late. When Governor Whitmer announced the program (Futures for Frontliners), I thought ‘you’d be pretty dumb to not take advantage of this.’”

And take advantage she has.

“The program changed my whole life,” she said.

Stephanie re-enrolled at GRCC and started her first semester in 2021. She hasn’t stopped since, including summer school classes both last summer and this summer!

“It was tricky to adjust to being back as a college student in my 30s,” she said. “I started slow, only taking six credits a semester since I was still working part-time and taking care of kids.”

But Stephanie soon found her rhythm and soon was getting all As and becoming a regular on the Presidents List.

“I also got myself off the academic probation that followed me from 2009,” she said with a laugh.

She’s now approaching the finish line on an associate’s degree in Business Management and so grateful to GRCC that she said she’d love to find a job at the college after graduation and pay it forward to the next generation of students.

In her words: “I owe this place.”

This story was reported by Phil de Haan.

With prices on the rise, new GRCC automotive detailing class builds in-demand skills, helps drivers hold on to cars longer

Would it surprise you to know the car wash and auto detailing business is a $12-$14 billion industry in the United States?

Chad Lodenstein knows.

He’s head of the Automotive Department at in the GRCC School of Workforce Development. He’s also a graduate of the program and used his associate degree to springboard to a bachelor’s degree in Automotive Management from Ferris State and then a career in the auto industry before returning to our campus as an instructor in 2002.

And this fall he plans to offer GRCC’s first-ever course in automotive detailing. He can’t wait.

“The used vehicle market is so high right now that people are willing to put more money into the car they have,” he said. “Especially here in the Midwest, if we can keep the salt off, keep those interiors nice, it’s a good investment. So, the industry is growing, and there is good money to be made.”

Lodenstein said that when he returned to GRCC to teach, he did so because he believes the college is “the best place ever. GRCC gave me so much. The chance to give back was too good to pass up. I want to see our students succeed, and everything I do is for that goal.”

The new course fits right in with helping GRCC students succeed, he said.

“My hope is that the course will appeal to people who don’t necessarily want to have a wrench in their hands,” he said. “It might even be interesting to people who are not part of our (automotive) program. I could see business students take it if they are interested in maybe setting up their own detailing shop or getting involved in the detailing industry. This can be a great side hustle for people.”

The new course at GRCC will be 45 contact hours: one three-hour class a week for 15 weeks. It comes as a result of a former student’s suggestion, Lodenstein said.

“I was visiting a student on an internship a couple of summers ago,” he recalled. “The student told me, ‘I really wish the college had a detailing class.’ It got me thinking, and I started doing some research. And I thought, ‘Yeah, detailing is something we should be able to do.’”

To get ready for this fall, Lodenstein went back to school.

He spent a week in North Carolina, in the classroom eight hours a day, taking a class offered by CARETECH, a detailing training center. He got a hands-on education in interior and exterior cleaning and polishing, sanding and leveling paint correction, ceramic coatings and more.

“Taking the class gave me a great structure for what we will offer our students,” Lodenstein said. “It was really set up well, and the materials were great. Plus, they will be a great resource for me, and for our students, going forward too.

Being back in the classroom as a student was both exciting and exhausting, he admitted.

“It was a great reminder for me,” he said. “I remembered how tiring it can be to be a student. It’s always good for me to be reminded how students have to take in so much material that is new to them and the ways I can be sensitive to their lives and their workloads.”

And though it has been a lot of work to plan for and establish the new course, Lodenstein said that as he was considering it and what it would take to bring it to the college, he kept thinking back to President Bill Pink.

“Dr. Pink always says that we need to be relevant and responsive,” he said. “This course seemed like a perfect fit for both categories.”

This story was reported by Phil de Haan.

GRCC baseball’s Ryan Dykstra earns MCCAA Western Conference Player of the Week honors for postseason heroics

GRCC baseball player Ryan Dykstra was named MCCAA Western Conference Player of the Week after his performance against Jackson College on May 12 in the NJCAA Region XII opening round games.

The 6-foot outfielder batted .571, going 4-for-7 against Jackson with two doubles, three runs scored and a walk. He also stole home, which put GRCC up for good in a 2-1 ball game to clinch the series and send the Raiders to the next round of regionals.

Dykstra is from Byron Center, attended South Christian High School, and plans to attend and play for Oakland University next year.

He leads GRCC in multiple statistical categories, including batting average, .411; slugging percentage, .675; runs scored, 44; hits, 67; runs batted in, 43; doubles, 14; home runs, 7; and total bases, 110.

GRCC finished second in the conference and is headed to the final four of regionals, facing conference champion Kellogg Community College, in a 3 p.m. matchup on May 19.

The tournament will be played at Siena Heights University’s baseball field in Adrian, Mich. Should the team lose, it will play at 7 p.m., and if they win they will play next on May 20 at 1 p.m.

Tech Tip: Disabled Peoplesoft accounts

Information Technology has noticed  an increase in PeopleSoft Accounts being disabled. This includes the Online Center, CSProd, HRProd, and FSProd. A disabled account causes users to get a login error at sign in stating they need to contact the Support Desk.

To avoid this, we highly recommend logging out of your account before entering into another environment. For instance, switching from the Online Center to CSProd. 

You can log out of your account by selecting the 3 vertical dots at the top left of the page and selecting sign out. Once you have successfully logged out, you will be redirected to the MyGRCC Portal.

From there, you can select the new environment. If you have a need to be logged into 2 different environments at the same time, we encourage you to use a separate browser for each to avoid potential issues.

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 techtips@grcc.edu