Learn from the Best: Holly VanRyn is a proud alumni with a fulfilling career because of the students she teaches

Holly VanRyn loves seeing her students succeed in the classroom and in the hospitality industry. “It’s my goal to ensure that my students are given the best education opportunities possible,” VanRyn said. “I’m passionate about the hospitality industry, leadership, customer service, fine wine, and food – and I love sharing these passions with my students.” 

VanRyn doesn’t want anyone to be surprised by the fantastic array of hospitality programs at GRCC through the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. And she wants people to know the reason behind it.

“The faculty here are of world class caliber and talent, and are definitely the department’s greatest asset,” VanRyn said. “And our diverse curriculum offers a variety of associates degrees, tracks, and certificates. We’ve been consistently awarded American Culinary Federation (ACF) accreditation with exemplary status. And we have transfer relationships with larger universities, like FSU and GVSU. These relationships can function as gateways, making it possible for students to pursue additional degree paths and bachelor’s degrees.”

“Another example of the strengths here at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education is our ability to respond to industry’s needs in developing new programs,” VanRyn said. “A perfect example of that is our new Pre-Hospitality Management Associate degree program. This program is for students interested in “front-of-the-house” careers in the hospitality industry. It combines all of our business, front-of-the-house restaurant courses, and sensory analysis classes with core business classes. Students can transfer directly into FSU’s Hospitality Management bachelor’s degree program.”

VanRyn started working in the hospitality industry when she was 15 years old. “I graduated from the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education and went on to finish my bachelor degree in Business Administration at FSU,” she said. “I moved out to Maui, Hawaii with my husband after college to work for TS Restaurants. I was the Dining Room Manager at Hula Grill on Maui before starting work as a professor at GRCC.”

Looking back, VanRyn’s early focus in hospitality did not leave room to diversify her education. “My entire career had been in the restaurant and hospitality industry until I became a professor at GRCC,” VanRyn said. “I wish that I had known at an earlier age that I’d one day become an educator! I would’ve started my Master’s degree in Career and Technical Education much sooner. However, with all of GRCC’s resources, I do feel lucky to be able to complete higher education while teaching full time. I have recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Career and Technical Education from Ferris State University.”

Through the pandemic, VanRyn’s teaching style evolved to embrace technology. “I implemented the flipped classroom approach into my classes years ago,” VanRyn said. “But through the pandemic I learned how to film demonstration videos, how to use video editing software, and many apps that allowed me to connect with students on a deeper level.”

Experience what the hospitality industry has to offer with VanRyn in CA 245 Restaurant Management and Leadership, CA 200 Hospitality Management, CA 233 Wine, Beer and Spirits Management, and CA 243 Wines of the World.

Three GRCC Radiologic Technology students tapped for prestigious program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Schools of Medical Imaging

For a trio of GRCC Radiologic Technology students, applying for a prestigious postgraduate program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Schools of Medical Imaging seemed like a longshot, at best.

The five-month, full-time program prepares students for advanced certification in computed tomography and includes classroom courses in everything from cross sectional anatomy to CT procedures and protocols with associated clinical experiences in oncology, pediatric, critical care, trauma and more.

Fewer than 10 percent of those who apply annually are accepted.

Kyle Cottrell, Alen Dzafic and Emma Seeber, members of the class of 2022, knew that their GRCC education was second-to-none, and they knew the work they had put in during their time on campus had prepared them well for whatever their futures might hold.

Still. The Johns Hopkins? Fewer than 10 percent?

“It seemed pretty overwhelming,” said Cottrell with a smile. “We all applied last minute.”

“And it’s a long application,” Seeber added.

“Then we all got asked to do the interviews,” Dzafic concluded. “And so, we thought ‘Maybe?’”

Those interviews, done over Zoom, also were intimidating, the three said.

“Oh man,” Cottrell said, “45 minutes. Eight or so people from Johns Hopkins. So many questions. It was just one question after another.”

“I’m pretty sure I repeated myself once or twice,” Dzafic added as Cottrell and Seeber both roared with laughter.

But then came the emails.

Each student received one.

Each was a “yes.”

A 100 percent success rate for the three GRCC grads.

Heather Klare, an assistant professor and clinical coordinator in the Radiologic Technology program, said the outcome – acceptance into a fully paid internship that includes both clinical and didactic education together – is amazing.

“All of us in the program were thrilled with the students’ acceptance,” she said. “The honor of being accepted into this program speaks volumes about these students, their knowledge, their abilities as future radiographers, and their willingness to take a chance to apply for an opportunity that does not occur very often.”

For their part, the students said Klare and the other professors in the program –plus the GRCC courses they took and their many clinical experiences — are the reason for their success.

Klare said the Radiologic Technology program provides students learning opportunities that enable them to attain certification as Registered Radiographer in Radiography. It also introduces them to other modalities such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Computed Tomography as possible certifications in the future and empowers students to succeed in an ever-changing healthcare environment.

Beyond that though, the students said, the program has people who care — lots of people.

Dzafic, Seeber and Cottrell recalled FaceTiming with Klare when they found out that all three of them had been accepted.

“She was so excited,” Dzafic said. “I think she might have dropped her phone, jumping up and down.”

Seeber beamed as she remembered that moment.

“Heather is one of the most involved, fantastic people I have ever met,” she said. “She wants to see you do well, and she makes sure that educationally and academically that you are put in a position to succeed.”

All three noted that good support is critical because their program is rigorous.

“There were so many times my brain just hurt,” Seeber, a 2017 Forest Hills Central grad, said laughing.

“There’s clinicals and homework and studying and sometimes it’s like it never ends,” added Cottrell, a 2016 graduate of Catholic Central.

“But there isn’t anything we took that was fluff,” said Dzafic, a 2014 graduate of Forest Hills Northern. “And, at the end, the payoff is real. You work hard and you graduate and then you have a job, a career, in front of you. It’s a good feeling.”

All three graduates said the job security of their profession is appealing but so is the variety of opportunities they can pursue going forward.

“My sister asked me once what you can do with an X-ray degree,” Seeber recalled.

“Anything you want,” Cottrell answered with a broad grin.

“It’s always changing, and there is always something new,” Dzafic said.

“I know I’ll probably end up selling equipment someday,” Seeber said. “Once you’ve worked for a while with the various machines, it’s pretty easy to transition to sales. You’ve gained some credibility, so that’s something I’ll probably explore.”

Before then though, the three colleagues and fast friends have some preparations to make. Their program in Baltimore starts on July 25, and they have to wrap things up in Grand Rapids, find places to live in a new city and much more.

“They now are preparing to take the national American Registry of Radiologic Technologists board exam in July and juggling their other personal and professional obligations,” said Klare. “But our program has prepared these students to be adaptable.”

The students agreed. They’re heading east, they said, with smiles on their faces, knowing that new opportunities await and that they’re Raider-ready for whatever comes next.

My Story Started at GRCC: Activist Michael Tuffelmire says lessons from GRCC professors help him today

Michael Tuffelmire had a difficult time adjusting to civilian life after returning home from serving with the Army during the Iraq War.

“I sought treatment at the Veterans Center, and one recommendation was that I go to college to build myself professionally,” he said. “GRCC was a very welcoming environment with other vets I could network with. I worked on the campus and went to school full time, so I spent a good amount of time 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.

Tuffelmire made connections on campus, serving as treasurer of the Black Student Union and participating in a one-of-a-kind event.

“Professor (Robert) Hendershot of the History Department picked me to take part in an Irish peace conference with former members of the Irish Republican Army,” he said. “I was able to have dinner with them on campus. The entire event was very memorable!”

After graduating from GRCC in 2009, Tuffelmire earned a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management from Ferris State University and a master’s degree in sustainable business from Aquinas College.

“I still tell people that out of all the higher learning institutions I have attended, GRCC was my favorite,” he said. “It also had some of the most challenging classes with hands-on faculty who helped me achieve more than I thought I was able.

“I still think of some of the challenging accounting classes under professor (Jeff) Spoelman, and some of his advice that I still use today. Also, not a day goes by that I do not think about what professor (Felix) Pereiro might say when I am thinking of marketing strategies.”

Tuffelmire is now a Realtor with Kent County Real Estate while working with several community initiatives.

“After graduation, I became a member of the Friends of Transit, who passed a successful tax millage in 2009 that greatly expanded the G.R. metro area bus system,” he said. “I went on to be the director of Decriminalize GR, a political organization that ran a successful ballot initiative to decriminalize cannabis in the city of Grand Rapids in 2012, with the support of several local and state elected officials.”

He served on MI Legalize’s board of directors, working on a successful ballot initiative that legalized recreational cannabis in 2018. The following year, he co-founded the West Michigan Cannabis Guild.

Tuffelmire credits GRCC with helping him build a civilian identity: “GRCC is a gateway to a lifetime of academic achievement.”

Let GRCC help you start your story. The first chapter starts at grcc.edu/apply.

GEAR UP Wyoming Week 2 Summer Career Exploration

 “Don’t step on the M!” With these instructions from University of Michigan tour guides, GEAR UP Wyoming students ventured about the main campus in the morning and north campus in the afternoon.

The cohort learned about U of M academic programs, support services, clubs and organizations, and sampled campus fare in one of the dorms.

Closer to home, at GRCC’s Early Childhood Development Learning Lab, three GEAR UP Wyoming students completed a two-week program under the direction of Kathleen Neumann:  Winona Frantz, Godwin Heights; Lailah Barnes, Wyoming; and Julissa Garcia, Godfrey Lee.

On Friday, June 17, GEAR UP Wyoming musicians joined various combo and big band ensembles to perform works by jazz greats at the Aquinas College Music Department’s Summer Jazz Camp Showcase.

This week GEAR UP students begin a financial literacy program at Western Michigan University’s Grand Rapids campus. Others will explore career pathways in nursing, history, and filmmaking at Calvin University’s Summer Career Exploration program.

GRCC In the News 06/20/2022

Hospitals are suffering from worker shortages. Can technology fill the gaps?

6/20/22 Crain’s Detroit Business

The great resignation in health care has been years in the making — COVID-19 just sped up the problem.

… The program, developed with Grand Rapids Community College and Michigan Works!, is 12 months long and has boosted Trinity Michigan’s medical assistant retention rate to 76 percent one year after graduating from the program. The health system has trained 129 medical assistants since launch six years ago.

Dean of Business & Industry candidate presentations on 6/20 & 6/22

The Dean of Business & Industry screening committee invites the campus community to attend the candidate presentations. 

The presentations are available in-person and virtually. We would encourage anyone who can attend in person to join us in ATC 168 (Auditorium). 

Candidate 2: Monday, June 20 from 4:00 – 5:00 pm in ATC 168 or live streamed

Candidate 3: Wednesday, June 22 from 3:30 – 4:30 pm in ATC 168 or live streamed

Dean of Health Sciences candidate presentations on 6/20 & 6/22

The Dean of Health Sciences screening committee invites the campus community to attend the candidate presentations. 

The presentations are available in-person and virtually. We would encourage anyone who can attend in person to join us in ATC 168 (Auditorium). 

Candidate 2: Monday, June 20 from 12:30 – 1:30 pm in ATC 168 or live streamed

Candidate 3: Wednesday, June 22 from 10:30 – 11:30 pm in ATC 168 or live streamed

Dean of Liberal Arts candidate presentations on 6/23 & 6/24

The Dean of Liberal Arts screening committee invites the campus community to attend the candidate presentations. 

The presentations are available in-person and virtually. We would encourage anyone who can attend in person to join us in ATC 168 (Auditorium). 

Candidate 4: Thursday, June 23 from 10:00 – 11:00 am in ATC 168 or live streamed

Candidate 5: Friday, June 24 from 10:00 – 11:00 am in ATC 168 or live streamed.