Read To Act Collective Returns

Formed during the height of a global pandemic and summer of social unrest, the Read To Act Collective served as a brave space to examine socio-political issues that impact the ecosystem of higher education.

Dr. Maya Angelou’s famous quote“…when you know better, [you] do better,” is a catalyst for the Read to Act (RTA) Collective.

ODEI, in partnership with Instructional Support, invites GRCC faculty and staff to come together to increase awareness and understanding (know better) about the impact of structural oppression. As a group (collective), we will use applied knowledge and industry best practices to shift the culture in our classrooms, departments, and work environments (do better).

For the next installment, we will read and unpack the book An Unseen Unheard Minority: Asian American Students at the University of Illinois by Sharon S. Lee

According to a recent study, “Asian Americans and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) have a reputation for being successful students, with data on academic outcomes often painting the portrait of a high-performing group, especially for East and South Asian Americans.” “These perceptions, however, stem from group averages that mask the variation in both access to higher education and success after college enrollment … giving rise to a common misconception that Asian Americans and NHPIs attending our nation’s colleges and universities are universally succeeding without a need for better or more targeted support. Not only does this model minority myth harm students, but it also hamstrings college leaders and policymakers in ensuring practice and policy decisions reflect their constituents’ needs,” the report concludes.

The (virtual) three-part book discussion will meet weekly on Tuesdays from Noon to 1:15 pm.

The first session begins on August 2, 2022.

A complimentary copy of the book is available to registered participants. 

RSVP by Monday, July 11 to:  

Learn from the Best: Lyn Jansen teaches OTA students career and life skills

Lyn Jansen has been leveraging her 15 years of clinical experience to teach students at GRCC working to earn their two-year occupational therapy assistant degree.

Occupational therapy assistants help patients recover. Under the supervision of registered occupational therapists, they help patients with physical or mental challenges by developing and carrying out programs that include educational, vocational and recreational activities.

Jansen specializes in work hardening, hand therapy, adult disabilities and rehabilitation, kinesiology, functional capacity evaluation, upper extremity injury, job analysis and injury prevention, transitional living for traumatic brain injury and home health. 

And she teaches these skills as an adjunct faculty member and faculty advisor to the OTA club.

“I love being able to help students achieve their academic and career goals,” Jansen said.

“The GRCC OTA program is operated by an extremely connected, committed and supportive faculty. Support from GRCC administration also allows the program to flourish. We are able to be creative in ways that we see best to help students succeed. And they do!”

Jansen has noticed that through the pandemic, having more grace toward each other in difficult situations has also helped students succeed.

“This doesn’t mean that standards or expectations have changed, but rather there’s a slightly different perspective of patience and understanding going in both directions,” Jansen said.

This insight comes with the learning and practice that Jansen has done over her clinical and teaching career. 

“I’ve observed throughout my life people who display qualities that I appreciate and strive to manifest in myself,” Jansen said.

This skill has suited Jansen as her career evolved.

“I didn’t begin my OT career with an intention to teach,” Jansen said. “But as a clinician I accepted GRCC fieldwork students and eventually found a good fit in teaching these students within their academic college program as well as in my OT work setting.”

Now Jansen is focused on her journey as a practitioner and a teacher. She is certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and is licensed to practice in Michigan. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy and a Master’s in Adult Education. 

“I maintain and enhance my treatment skills through continuing education in the areas of shoulder, wrist and hand injury treatment, injury prevention management, ergonomics, and treatment of traumatic brain injury, CVA, and handwriting dysfunction,” Jansen said.

Summer Teaching and Learning Institute

Save the Date!

The Summer Teaching and Learning Institute will take place from August 10 – August 12, 2022. 

The event will offer a mix of session modalities including in-person, virtual and hyflex formats. 

Highlights of this year’s sessions include…Beyond the File Cabinet: Moving from Paper to Digital, Building Your Own Virtual Field Trips, Using They/Them Pronouns (Parts 1 & 2), and Don’t Panic: Condensing from 14 to 7 Weeks without Losing It, just to name a few. 

Guest speaker Amelia Gamel, founder of Equitable EDU, will discuss ways to Support Inclusion from the Start, providing faculty with high-impact practices that can be implemented on the first day of class that will foster an equitable environment to close the achievement gap. 

Look for an email with information about registration in mid-July.  

The CTE will offer the option of lunch on Wednesday and Thursday during the event. Registration for lunch will be required.

Our Stories Started at GRCC: Hector Ortega and Loyda Cruz left Cuba searching for opportunities, found success at GRCC

Hector Ortega and Loyda Cruz in graduation gowns, smiling.

The journey of Hector Ortega and Loyda Cruz has been a long one, taking them from Cuba to the United States and, eventually, GRCC. It has been filled with love – for each other and for learning – and it has been marked by persistence and dedication.

It’s not over yet. But after their June graduation from GRCC’s Computer Support Specialist program, both Hector and Loyda are as confident about the next steps on their journey as they ever have been.

They have been married for almost six years and met in their native Cuba as university students, both studying computer science. After finishing their studies, they had the opportunity to come to the United States permanently. 

“When we moved from Cuba to the United States, we had to face many new challenges and the main one was the language,” recalled Hector. “That’s how we started our adventure at GRCC, taking English as a Second Language classes.”

Hector remembered at first being “horrified at introducing myself in English in front of my classmates,” but soon, he added, he had progressed to being able to speak quite fluently.

He added, with a smile: “This made me fall in love with GRCC. Then, my wife and I, browsing the GRCC website, discovered the Computer Support program. We both liked what the program would offer us, and we felt that it was just what we needed.”

Loyda said their hopes for the program were very much fulfilled.

“GRCC is a college with great opportunities for all kinds of people,” she said. “It has a large faculty of well-prepared professors who want students to learn correctly and efficiently. As an immigrant, I can only say that GRCC is the place that has opened doors for me in this country.”

Both students said they appreciated the Computer Support Specialist program’s emphasis on real-world skills.

“When I studied Computer Science in Cuba, the studies were mostly focused on mathematics, programming and everything related to software,” Loyda said. “I always wanted to learn and obtain skills that would help me solve problems related to different devices and that also involve the physical part or hardware. This program helped me a lot to learn how to identify and solve problems related to software, hardware, security and networks.”

Both used financial support programs to make their dreams a reality with Loyda taking advantage of the Michigan Reconnect scholarship and Hector part of the Futures for Frontliners program. 

Michigan Reconnect is a state program covering the cost of in-district tuition for people age 25 and older without a college degree. Additional information is at Futures for Frontliners was a similar program for people who worked in essential fields during the state’s shutdown.

They said those programs made possible what otherwise might have been impossible. And they praised the fast-track nature of the GRCC certificate program, which they said packs a lot of learning into just 18 weeks but allows graduates to quickly jump into the job market and do well.

“When we arrived in the United States, without previous work experience, we always thought about the possibility of studying something shorter in this country, but related to our previous knowledge,” Loyda said. “The GRCC program linked all the studying we did previously (in Cuba) and now is opening doors here in the United States.”

Hector said the same.

“What I liked most about this program is that it not only taught me the technical aspects, but also taught me how to apply for positions that I like, increasing the possibility of being accepted,” he said. “I rediscovered myself as a professional and stopped saying ‘no’ to myself.”

And, thanks to GRCC, companies are also saying “yes.”

“In the same week as our graduation ceremony, I received the news that I was accepted to work in IT at Amway,” Hector said. “So, we were celebrating our graduation, our wedding anniversary, my new job and the high hope that Loyda can also get a position in the field.”

After what the couple has already overcome, don’t bet against her.

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

This story was reported by Phil de Haan, and photographed by Andrew Schmidt.

GRCC In the News 07/05/2022

First Class Of Men’s Golf Signees Announced

6/28/22 Central Michigan University press release

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Central Michigan men’s golf coach Kevin Jennings has announced his inaugural class of signees, set to arrive on campus later this summer as the university resurrects the program after a 37-year hiatus.

… Arie Jackman • Caledonia, Mich./Caledonia HS/Grand Rapids Community College
2021-22 (GRCC): Shot 73-73-78 – 224 to capture medalist honors and win by eight strokes at the Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) Championship … shot 75-76-72 – 223 to tie for third in 50-play field at Bill Bockwitz Classic … shot 79-74-78 – 231 to tie for seventh in 36-player field at Ron Marshall Spring Fling Tournament … tied for 22nd in 67-player field at Heritage Hill Collegiate … served as team captain.

Grand Rapids Promise Zone invites 900 eligible high school graduates to attend GRCC tuition-free

7/1/22 MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – More than 900 students are invited to attend Grand Rapids Community College during the 2022-23 academic year with financial support from the Grand Rapids Promise Zone scholarship.

News at 4 p.m.

7/1/22 FOX 17

(GRCC’s FAFSA hotline.)

Grand Rapids Promise keeps expanding with 900 eligible recipients

7/2/22 WOOD TV

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — More than 900 Grand Rapids high school graduates have a helping hand to further their education during the upcoming school year.

The Grand Rapids Promise Zone scholarships cover the tuition, fees, books and course materials for associate’s degree, job training and certification programs at Grand Rapids Community College. For the 2022-2023 school year, some 900 new students are eligible.

GUEST VIEW: A way to help adult learners prepare for college

7/2/22 The Daily News (Greenville)

Everyone should have access to a college education that can change their lives. A new Grand Rapids Community College program can help adult learners prepare for college, and to be successful once they get there.

(Guest column by Teera Wilkins, director of the GRCC Educational Opportunities Center.)

Michigan’s Best Local Eats: EB Coffee & Pub offers lattes, beer, brunch burgers and more

7/2/22 MLive

KENT COUNTY, MI — At EB Coffee & Pub, customers can unwind with a beer, coffee, tea or late, and enjoy a selection of house-made bake goods, breakfast sandwiches, and baked oatmeal.

… (Justin) Nichols, who studied baking and pastry making at Grand Rapids Community College, also makes a selection of scones and muffins.

Coming Soon: Website updates to reflect the new ASA reorganization

As part of the Academic and Student Affairs reorganization, we will be launching new webpages on for the School of Business and Industry, School of STEM, School of Liberal Arts and School of Health Sciences. All information found on the current School of Workforce Development and School of Arts and Sciences webpages will be found on their new corresponding school webpage.

Stay tuned!