Learn from the Best: Nursing Faculty member Fred Comer’s dream? To help his student’s reach theirs.

Fred Comer smiling.

After 10 years of teaching Grand Rapids Community College nursing students as an adjunct faculty member, Fred Comer, MSN RN reached his goal of teaching as a full-time faculty member at GRCC.

Comer values the unique population of students who come to a community college.

“I appreciate the variety of students, and the various walks of life they come from, when starting their life journey at GRCC,” he said. “They are students of different ages, backgrounds, and life experiences. You could have in your class students who are first-time college students, adults that are returning to finish school after life halted their educational journey, and students that are starting a new career path.”

Comer’s students see his commitment to their success as he teaches them. His classes might not be easy, but he is making sure his students graduate with skills to land them a job in a demanding field.

“Professor Comer is caring, willing to help, and has a very calm demeanor,” shared one of his students. “He creates a comfortable atmosphere and will answer any question you have. He is a great listener and really wants you to succeed.”

Being accessible to students in and out of the classroom is key to Comer’s support of their success.

In this virtual world it is important to be accessible to students,” he said.“I flex my availability, and am willing to meet with students outside of my scheduled office hours. This has meant answering a few more emails over the weekend or staying after class an extra 30 minutes to an hour to allow students to ask questions or practice a skill.”

Comer switched careers in his 30s, from biology to nursing, and wishes he would have made the decision sooner.

“This would have given me many more years to serve as a nurse and nursing professor instead of entering a great profession in my mid 30s,” he said. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Biology, Comer earned a bachelor’s degree, and then master’s degree, in nursing.

Look for Comer this fall, teaching Introduction to Practical Nursing Concepts, Health Illness Concepts for the Practical Nurse I, Health Illness Concepts for the Practical Nurse II, Application of Basic Nursing Skills, Health Illness Concepts II, Health Illness Concepts III.

My Story Started at GRCC: CJ Norton shares how Michigan Reconnect, Veterans Center helping him work toward engineering degree

CJ Norton smiling with a flag behind him.

It’s the kind of place where everybody knows your name.

“The Veterans Center is always my first stop when I get to campus,” said CJ Norton, who served in the U.S. Marines and is now enrolled at Grand Rapids Community College. “When you meet another veteran there for the first time, it’s like an instant connection … you know you’ve gone through similar circumstances.”

Start at GRCC and go anywhere. Every student has a story to tell about how GRCC gave them the education and opportunity to be successful, with support services available to help them through.

GRCC’s new Veterans Center on level G2 of Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall opened in October to serve as a single point of contact for students who served in the military, connecting veterans with campus resources, including financial aid, advising and disability support.

It’s also a place to call their own on campus.

“The other veterans I’ve met there have been great. I met another former Marine who I studied physics with, and another guy who I work out with every morning I’m on campus,” said 26-year-old Norton, of Wyoming.

Norton enlisted in the Marines at age 17, serving four years as an embarkation logistics specialist at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. After his 2016 discharge, he returned to West Michigan and tried GRCC for the first time.

“I was still sort of transitioning from the military and I just couldn’t handle college,” he said.

After years working security, waiting tables and odd jobs in warehouses, Norton decided to follow in the tracks of a childhood friend pursuing an engineering degree. He re-enrolled at GRCC in 2019 and is making progress toward his own engineering degree.

“I’m super happy with how I’m doing in school now,” he said.

A big part of that is thanks to GRCC’s Veterans Services team, which Norton said goes above and beyond the call of duty to support military and veteran students at every stage of their academic journeys. It was the Veterans Services staff that told Norton about Michigan Reconnect.

Michigan Reconnect is the largest effort in state history to ensure that Michiganders who are 25 or older and don’t have a college degree have an opportunity to earn an associate degree or skills certificate, with the cost of in-district tuition covered.  

“As soon as they told me about Michigan Reconnect, I applied for the scholarship and immediately qualified. It was a huge weight off my shoulders,” said Norton, who’s transferring to Grand Valley State University this fall to continue his engineering degree.

The Veterans Center is helping GRCC expand its partnerships with state and local veterans’ agencies, helping students access benefits and support in the community. It’s also making veterans in the community aware of opportunities at GRCC to earn credits for degrees or transfer and in-demand career skills.

Norton said the center fills different needs for veterans.

“If you want to go there and study, you can study,” he said. “If you want to talk with another vet, you can do that. If you want to play video games with a buddy, you can do that. There are people there to help you in whatever you might need.

“I see it as such a bright light, and I feel like if other veterans go in there they’ll feel the same way.”

Students can connect with the Veterans Center by phone at (616) 234-2578, and by email at veterans@grcc.edu. Additional information is available online at grcc.edu/veterans

This story was reported by Beth McKenna.

GRCC TRIO students looking to study abroad will gain help purchasing passports through an Institute of International Education grant

Up to 25 Grand Rapids Community College students will be able to get United States passports for studying abroad through a grant from the Institute of International Education.

The IIE American Passport Project, in its second year, is intended to increase participation and diversity in study abroad programs, giving all students access to the academic and career benefits of international experience.

GRCC, one of 40 colleges and universities selected for this second cohort, will identify 25 students in the TRIO/Student Support Services program to participate. TRIO is a federally funded program that provides academic advising, tutoring, financial guidance, counseling and other supports to assist students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A United States adult passport costs $165, a price that can put studying abroad out of reach for many students.

“A passport is an essential tool of mobility for our students,” said Anna Maria Clark, academic advisor for GRCC’s TRIO program. “So many current events around the world today continue to show us that we live in a global society, and lack of experience within our global world will only continue to perpetuate our world’s inability to work together to solve problems.

“A passport, learning a new language, and study abroad go hand in hand in providing our students with essential experiences they, in turn, will be able to apply to their studies and professional lives.”

AAA Kentwood-Grand Rapids has also committed to providing 25 sets of passport photos for free to the 25 GRCC students.

GRCC is restarting its Study Away program, which shut down temporarily because of the pandemic. Past trips have allowed students to work in health care in Costa Rica, study literature in Spain, and learn about the cultures of Morocco, Greece and France.

GRCC In the News 05/31/2022

Baseball legends honored at JUCO banquet

5/28/22 The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction, Colo.)

Mayhem breaks loose today for the 64th Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, but the 10 teams, coaches and community gathered Friday at the Grand Junction Convention Center for the calm before the storm.

… Doug Wabeke (2022)

Wabeke was a decorated athlete with Grand Rapids Community College (Michigan) before parlaying the success into a stint at Central Michigan University.

Longtime Walters State baseball coach Ken Campbell inducted into NJCAA Baseball Hall of Fame

5/29/22 Citizen Tribune (Morristown, Tenn.)

GRAND JUNCTION, CO – With his former program in attendance, longtime Walters State baseball coach Ken Campbell was inducted into the NJCAA Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday night at the NJCAA DI JUCO World Series’ annual banquet.

Campbell was announced as a member of the Hall of Fame in 2020 but, due to COVID-19, was not officially inducted until Friday night. Campbell went into the Hall of Fame with Lamar Community College’s Scott Crampton, Rick Hitt of South Florida State and Charlie O’Brien of Cecil College (Maryland) in the class of 2020 and Andrea Gordon of Diamond Sports, Doug Wabeke from Grand Rapids Community College, Rob Fournier of Wabash Valley and Jeff Johnson of Chipola from the class of 2022.

Internet Explorer- End of life

Internet explorer symbol - an e.

Beginning June 15, 2022, Microsoft will be retiring Internet Explorer.

If you are still using Internet Explorer as your default browser, please switch to another browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

We have a helpful knowledge base article to assist you.

Any applications or sites that are traditionally only accessible in Internet Explorer can be opened in Microsoft Edge using the Compatibility Mode feature

If you use Internet Explorer for linking documents, you may now use any browser to complete this function. 

If you have any questions about this change, we encourage you to reach out to the IT Support Desk at 616-234-4357 or by visiting our Customer Support Portal at supportdesk.grcc.edu to submit a ticket.