GRCC representing at Hall of Fame Golf Classic

GRCC was represented in the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame 22nd Annual Golf Classic this week.

The team didn’t win its division, but came close! Former GRCC football coach Fred Julian is among those being inducted in the Hall of Fame this year.

Competing in the event for GRCC was professor Chris Johnston, Associate Provost Sheila Jones, former Associate Provost Tina Hoxie, and Associate Dean Raynard Ross.

GRCC volleyball team starting the season ranked No. 11 in the nation in NJCAA DII poll

The Grand Rapids Community College volleyball team will start the season ranked No. 11 in the nation in the National Junior Community College Association Division II poll released on Monday.

Last week GRCC was named the preseason favorite to win the newly created Northern Conference in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association, voted on by coaches in the conference.

“I’m very excited to get back in it,” returning player Audrey Gower said. “The returners and I are determined to make it to the national tournament this year since our season was cut short last year. We will all have to work nonstop together as a team to achieve our goals one step at a time.”

GRCC last year posted a 24-7 overall record, and was undefeated in the MCCAA Western Conference. The team finished as the runner-up in regionals after winning its 10th conference championship and eighth MCCAA title. Will reached a milestone 400th victory, and is 410-75 in his 15-year coaching career.

Nine players are returning, including outside hitter Audrey Torres, who earned All-Region, First Team All-Conference honors; setter Shannon Russell, who earned Second Team All-Conference honors; and Kara Hecht, Karissa Ferry and Eliza Thelen who were all named All-Conference Honorable Mention.

Also returning is Alena Visnovsky, recently named to the NJCAA All-Academic team for a perfect 4.0 GPA; Rylee VanPatten, an outside hitter from Charlotte; Charlie Baker, a defensive specialist from Whitehall, and Gower, a defensive specialist/libero from Dimondale.

The team has five incoming freshmen. Outside hitter/defensive specialist Braelyn Berry graduated from Morley Stanwood High School and was named Female Athlete of the Year.

Defensive specialist Lexi Heavner went to Rockford High School, and defensive specialist Vienna Koenigsknecht comes from Portage Central High School.

Also joining the team are setters Autumn Cole and Alyssa Wierenga. Cole is a graduate of Kenowa Hills High School and Wierenga is from Forest Hills Northern High School.

The regular season begins on Aug. 19 as the Raiders travel to Rockford, Ill. for the McHenry County College Invitational. The team will face stiff competition including No. 3 Johnson County Community College and No. 4 Iowa Central Community College, which finished third and fourth in the NJCAA National Tournament last year.

One week later the team travels to Owens Community College and will play No. 6 Terra State and the host team, Owens who comes in at No. 1 in the pre-season Division III poll.

GRCC partners with Ludwig Institute to help students overcome financial barriers while gaining new career skills

Grand Rapids Community College is partnering with the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity to remove financial obstacles preventing residents in underserved communities from connecting with life-changing career skills.

LISEP is providing financial support to GRCC to cover living expenses for eligible students. Students with dependents will receive $350 stipends per week or $6,300 over an 18-week career-training course. Students without dependents will receive $225 per week, or $4,050 in total.

The Washington-based institute will cover students enrolled in GRCC’s welding, electrician, and computer support technician courses.

“To date, these students haven’t received financial assistance geared specifically toward living expenses while they pursue their credential,” said Gene Ludwig, who founded LISEP in 2019. “This means some of them have had to forego valuable training courses or drop out prior to earning an industry certification. This stipend is intended for students to be able to put food on the table and complete classes at the same time. Ultimately, it will give young adults a better chance at a good-paying job and a better future.”

GRCC will work to place these students into jobs with local, minority-owned businesses they are working with that employ welders and electricians and that are positioned for growth.

“We get to see the transformation in a student’s life when they leave our program with in-demand skills and a job,” said Julie Parks, GRCC’s Dean of Workforce Training. “We also know there are so many more people who could benefit, but worry about the financial obstacles. The Ludwig Institute’s program will remove those barriers and give people opportunities that will not only help these students, but the region’s employers as well.”

West Michigan employers are looking for welders, fabricators, electricians, and computer support technicians, and are often struggling to find people with the needed skills to fill openings. GRCC partners with employers to create programs that match the skills needed in evolving fields.

The Ludwig Institute’s mission is to improve the economic well-being of middle- and lower-income Americans through research and education. Its research includes new economic indicators for unemployment, earnings, and cost of living. Gene Ludwig is an internationally recognized leader on matters related to banking and fiscal policy and was Comptroller of the Currency during the Clinton Administration.

Ludwig is also the co-founder of the Carol and Gene Ludwig Family Foundation, whose grantmaking in education primarily focuses on empowering young people from low-income backgrounds to achieve their educational and professional goals. The Carol and Gene Ludwig Family Foundation has been helping grantees award direct financial assistance to students from low-income communities since 2014.

My Story Started at GRCC: KSSN’s Sonia Riley connects families with support services to overcome obstacles

GRCC alumna Sonia Riley is always finding – and learning – new ways to serve her community, taking on roles in education, politics and health care.

Riley is a community school coordinator for Kent School Services Network, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with K-12 schools to connect families with support services. She works with Dickinson Academy in the Grand Rapids school district.

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.

“The majority of my career has been working for nonprofit organizations that work with underserved communities reducing health disparities, removing barriers to academic success and providing a voice for those who have been intentionally marginalized,” said Riley, who earned an associate degree in Criminal Justice in 2010.

Working with one agency or organization frequently points her to others that need her help.

Her jobs as a community health care worker with Strong Beginnings, a federal program that works to improve the well-being of African American and Latino families during pregnancy and early childhood, and as an administrative aide for the city of Grand Rapids led to her entering the civic sphere.

“Although I was doing great work for some amazing organizations such as Strong Beginnings, I felt obligated to do more,” she said.

That led to her roles on Wyoming’s Community Enrichment Commission and as 2nd vice chair of the Kent County Democratic Party.

Every step of the way, Riley has taken advantage of opportunities to learn more. She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Ferris State University and is looking at programs to earn a master’s in education leadership. 

She also completed FSU’s Latino Talent Initiative (now known as the Leaders Program), a Fellows Program at affordable housing advocate LINC Up, and New American Leaders training.

Riley credits her time at GRCC for giving her a strong foundation for her work.

“I value the connectivity and the real-life experiences that were shared with us,” she said. “GRCC gives a lot to the students. It’s not just the textbooks, but also the internships. It was the whole college experience.”

She has maintained her GRCC connections, serving on the Juvenile Services Advisory Board and collaborating with the Criminal Justice Club.

“They have been a great partnership to our school, providing winter gear for all our students during the pandemic,” she said. “Anytime I presented to the club and staff, they have answered the call to action.”

Riley, who was a single mother of three during her time as a GRCC student, said her journey hasn’t been easy, but it’s been fulfilling.

“I have a lot of people who provided a lot of support on my journey, and the GRCC staff is one of them, because, as an alumna, I know I can count on them to steer me in the right direction,” she said.

“They believed I could do it, and I did.”

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

GRCC volleyball team is the preseason favorite to win the new MCCAA Northern Conference crown

The Grand Rapids Community College volleyball team is the preseason favorite to win the newly created Northern Conference in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association.

The MCCAA released its coaches’ poll on Friday, with GRCC earning four of six first-place votes. North Central Michigan College and Muskegon Community college each earned one first-place vote. Alpena Community College, Delta College and Bay College round out the conference.

The MCCAA split into three conferences this year in five sports due to the addition of three additional schools to the association. Two of the schools, North Central Michigan College in Petoskey and Bay College in Escanaba along with Delta College, are first-year programs.

“I’m very confident that this year’s team has what it takes to contend for another regional championship and get back to nationals,” Coach Chip Will said earlier this month.

“We should have strong leadership from our nine sophomores and a great incoming class and I’m very excited to get the season underway.”

GRCC last year posted a 24-7 overall record, and was undefeated in the MCCAA Western Conference. The team finished as the runner-up in regionals after winning its 10th conference championship and an eighth MCCAA title. Will reached a milestone 400th victory, and is 410-75 in his 17-year coaching career.

Nine players are returning, including outside hitter Audrey Torres, who earned All-Region, First Team All-Conference honors; setter Shannon Russell, who earned Second Team All-Conference honors; and Kara Hecht, Karissa Ferry and Eliza Thelen who were all named All-Conference Honorable Mention.

Also returning is Alena Visnovsky, recently named to the NJCAA All-Academic team for a perfect 4.0 GPA; Rylee VanPatten, and outside hitter from Charlotte; Charlie Baker, a defensive specialist from Whitehall, and Audrey Gower, a defensive specialist/libero from Dimondale.

The team has three incoming freshmen. Outside hitter/defensive specialist Braelyn Berry graduated from Morley Stanwood High School and was named Female Athlete of the Year.

Defensive specialist Lexi Heavner went to Rockford High School, and defensive specialist Vienna Koenigsknecht comes from Portage Central High School.

Also joining the team are setters Autumn Cole and Alyssa Wierenga. Cole is a graduate of Kenowa Hills High School and Wierenga is from Forest Hills Northern High School. 

The regular season begins on Aug. 19 as the Raiders travel to Rockford, Ill. for the McHenry County College Invitational. The team will face stiff competition including Iowa Central Community College and Johnson County Community College, which finished third and fourth in the NJCAA National Tournament last year.

GRCC In the News 08/16/2022

 Former Cherry Deli building sold to growing catering, personal chef business

8/14/22 mibiz.com

GRAND RAPIDS — A husband and wife duo are moving their catering and personal chef business into the building formerly occupied by neighborhood staple Cherry Deli and Catering in Grand Rapids’ East Hills neighborhood. 

(This article doesn’t mention it, but owner Jason McClearen is a GRCC alum.)

2022 Readers’ Choice Awards

8/15/22 West Michigan Woman

What makes a community? Undoubtedly, the magic comes from its people. Our lives wouldn’t be what they are without the stellar local establishments found around every corner of West Michigan, from the newly-founded to the well-established and everything in between.

… West Michigan Woman readers voted and rallied to have their voices heard. Keep reading to see our finalists for our second annual Readers’ Choice Awards.

… CONTINUING EDUCATION

Aquinas College
Grand Rapids Community College
Grand Valley State University

SKILLED TRADE EDUCATION

Grand Rapids Community College
Kent Career Technical Center
West Michigan Construction Institute

 ‘Link with Pink Tour:’ Meet Ferris State University’s new President

8/15/22 Huron Daily Tribune

BIG RAPIDS – New Ferris State University President Bill Pink, whose presidency started on Monday, July 11, is ready to go on the road to engage alumni and friends across Michigan.

… Two days later, Pink returns to Grand Rapids, where he served as Grand Rapids Community College’s president before becoming Ferris’ president. “The Link with Pink Tour” hosts an event from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15 at McKay Tower.