GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — 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.
Since establishing the Metallica Scholars initiative in 2019, METALLICA’s All Within My Hands (AWMH) foundation has been working with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to provide direct support for career and technical education programs across the U.S. Having grown from a concept to a thriving educational strategy that focuses on enhancing skills while providing services to students looking to enter a traditional trade or other applied learning program, the Metallica Scholars initiative has generated a proven and measurable impact. AWMH will replicate the program further by adding ten more schools to the roster, investing $1.8 million to expand in year four.
… “I drive into Grand Rapids from White Cloud every day [approximately 50 miles each way] for this training, so receiving the METALLICA Scholarship was like winning the lottery, and the beautiful boots from Wolverine were a bonus, too!” said Armondo Medina, Metallica Scholar, Grand Rapids Community College. “I’m just so thankful!”
Metallica has added 10 schools to their All Within My Hands (AWHH) Scholars Initiative for 2022. The initiative is a collaboration between AWHH and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to provide direct support for career and technical education programs across the United States.
… Those schools join a list of 22 community colleges that have been invited to continue as a Metallica Scholars schools. They are:
… Grand Rapids Community College – Grand Rapids, Michigan
After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a beloved Holland tradition returned over the weekend. Thousands from across the state gathered for ¡Fiesta!, an annual celebration of Latino heritage and cultures sponsored by Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP).
… One of the many volunteers was Emma Garcia, who helped out as a greeter. She works part time at MillerKnoll while attending Grand Rapids Community College, where she studies nursing. MillerKnoll, one of the event’s sponsors, invited employees to volunteer.
A fourth grant from Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation will allow Grand Rapids Community College to help more nontraditional students gain in-demand welding skills.
GRCC was one of the first 10 colleges to be supported by the legendary band when it started the Metallica Scholars program in 2018, and has been included every year since.
The foundation has provided GRCC with $185,000 over the four years, and the grant helps continue a program aimed at underserved community members, giving them career skills as well as hands-on welding experience.
More than 100 GRCC students have earned certificates through the program, a partnership between the band’s foundation and the American Association of Community Colleges.
GRCC currently is one of 32 colleges included in the program, and the only one in Michigan.
“We’re proud that Metallica and its foundation continue to invest in GRCC and our students,” said John Van Elst, interim executive director of Workforce Training. “When you provide someone with a new set of skills, you’re doing more than helping them get a new job. You’re changing the course of their lives.”
GRCC partners with local employers so students can participate in site visits, employee panels and mentoring to help them determine if welding is a good fit for their career goals. Each student participates in individualized career-preparation with GRCC to ensure they are job-ready upon completion of their welding license.
All Within My Hands leaders said the Metallica Scholars program has generated a proven and measurable impact. AWMH added 10 more schools to its roster, investing $1.8 million to expand in year four.
“Our goal for the Metallica Scholars Initiative is to shine a light on workforce education and support the next generation of tradespeople,” said Pete Delgrosso, executive director of All Within My Hands. “With the addition of the 2022-2023 Metallica Scholars program, our grants will reach over 2,000 men and women in 32 community colleges across 27 states. We are honored to support these students of all ages and backgrounds and look forward to growing the program even farther in the future.”
The foundation said on average, students who complete the program see new job opportunities and increased salary potential up to three times higher than pre-program.
The foundation also will continue partnering with the Rockford-based Wolverine Boots & Apparel in a collaboration that has furnished financial support and outfitted Metallica Scholars with work boots.
“I drive into Grand Rapids from White Cloud every day for this training, so receiving the Metallica Scholarship was like winning the lottery, and the beautiful boots from Wolverine were a bonus, too!” GRCC student Armondo Medina said. “I’m just so thankful!”
Mark Andrew Nordblom, 62, of Allegan, MI (formerly of W. Roxbury, MA), passed away June 9, 2022, at his home, surrounded by his wife and family after a yearlong battle with health issues and cancer. He was born February 26, 1960, to Robert and Carol Nordblom in Norwood, MA.
He graduated in 1978 from West Roxbury High. In September of 2000, he married the love of his life, DiAnna Nordblom, whom he met via the internet in 1998 and moved across the country to make a life together. They raised three beautiful daughters that he was so proud of. He adored his grandchildren.
He loved being a part of Grand Rapids Community College, where he had worked since Dec. 6, 1999, moving up through the ranks from help desk, to technician, to finally enterprise analyst as the “Blackboard Guy.” He was hired originally as a contractor for three days of phone support in August of 1999! He loved his GRCC family and was proud to be a Raider! He also did private computer repair for folks, which resulted in many more friendships.
How do you memorialize someone who seemed larger than life? He was one of many talents and hobbies! If something needed fixing, he wouldn’t call someone else. He would figure out how to fix it himself! He was always thinking of ways to make things easier for people. He always had a story to tell and would take the time to listen to anyone who needed an ear.
Before jumping into computers, he was a 3rd generation cabinet maker. He could work magic with wood! It was in his blood and even though it was no longer his “day job,” he still loved building “Markitekture,” as a friend called his work.
Music was deeply ingrained in him; he loved all types of music and was often found with his AirPods in listening to whatever matched his mood at the time. He loved his guitars, even though he had not played in awhile. When he gave up smoking in 2009, he got a Harley and would ride at every opportunity. He loved people in general, and would go out of his way to help anyone in need. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
Mark is survived by his wife, DiAnna; loving children Cami (Andrew) Marvin, Brittani (Chasin) Jelks, and Karmind (Jason) Maddox; grandchildren Connor Nordblom, Hayley Jelks, and Randal Patton; mother, Carol (Leslie Wish) Nordblom; father-in-law Donald (Linda) Chaffee and mother-in-law Susan (Ray) Shingledecker; a brother and many brothers- and sisters-in-law; cousins Gye (Jill) Kohlhafer, Bradley (Hilda) Kohlhafer; and nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father, Robert Nordblom; grandparents, Albert and HazelJean Nordblom, as well as Carl J. and Orma Lundberg; aunt Hilda Johnston; and uncles Robert Lundberg and the Rev. Carl E. Lundberg; brothers-in-law Gerald (Jerry) Chaffee and Roger Shingledecker.
There will be a Celebration of Life to honor Mark on July 16, 2022, starting at 2 p.m. at the Monterey Community Center, 2999 30th St. in Allegan.