Learn from the Best: Drew Rozema believes in the power of technology and the power of communication done well

Drew Rozema, head of the Computer Information Systems Department, and nationally known cybersecurity expert, did not start his career with teaching and information security in mind. 

“I always knew I wanted to do something with computers, and sort of bounced around in different roles in IT and engineering until I found cybersecurity,” Rozema said. “The switch to cybersecurity was somewhat serendipitous. I was tasked with helping out with a number of security initiatives and was sent for training while working for a company called Tribune. When I realized I would need a degree to advance my career, I knew security was what would keep me interested enough to complete it.”

Rozema worked at Fox 17 WXMI-TV as a computer systems administrator for two years, and then manager of information systems for seven years, before becoming director of technology at Tribune Co. in 2009.

He connected with teaching during his time at Tribune, when he took an adjunct faculty position in the Grand Rapids Community College CIS department in 2013. Just over a year later he stepped into the position of tenured assistant professor. Two years later he accepted the role of department head for the CIS department at GRCC – working with faculty and industry leaders to keep CIS degrees and certificates at the forefront of emerging software, technology and information security.

Rozema was drawn into teaching by the subject matter

 “I like the opportunity to be immersed in the subject matter I love, and try and share my passion with the students in my classes,” Rozema said. “Our program brings world-class facilities and cutting-edge curriculum to Grand Rapids. We have faculty trained and vetted by some of the biggest names in information technology and rigorous academic programs for students who want to be help desk professionals, IT technicians, network administrators, cybersecurity professionals or research computer scientists. Any of those careers can start (and have started) at GRCC’s CIS department.”

Through Rozema’s leadership and collaboration with faculty and administration members, CIS was recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security in 2018 as one of two Michigan community colleges designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.

That same year, Rozema launched the “Defeasible Reasoning” podcast. Podcasting, he said, is an egalitarian medium that allows for real conversations to happen and for intimate stories to get told in a way that no other media can. Archived podcast episodes cover all things cybersecurity from 2018 to 2020 with co-host Noah DeSmit, a former GRCC Media Technologies Department staff member.

“Like most hackers I remain a techno-utopian at heart,” Rozema said. “I believe in the power of technology and the power of communication done well. I hope that we all benefit when everyone has an opportunity to have a voice. Admittedly, we’re all still figuring out how to make that work, and there are occasional misfires, but I’m confident we can all get there.”

In 2020 Rozema also joined the University of Michigan faculty as an adjunct lead instructor for the Nexus School of Engineering Cybersecurity Professional Boot-camp.

His advice to students? Know the real value of your skills and talent; and how important it is to have credentials that prove them.

Rozema is currently working towards a doctorate through the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security at Purdue – Discovery Park. He holds a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems, with a concentration in security, from Boston University, and a Bachelor of Science from Capella University with a specialization in Information Security and Assurance.

Drew Rozema talks to a student working on a server rack.

Learning experience: GRCC cross country teams struggle in opening meet against four-year schools

The Grand Rapids Community College cross country teams struggled in their first meet of the season, but coaches said the event against four-year programs was a good learning experience.

GRCC was the only community college team competing in the 5-kilometer event, the Central Michigan University Jeff Drenth Invitational. The men’s team finished in seventh place out of eight teams, and the women’s team was in sixth place out of six teams in a field that included three NCAA D1 teams, two in NCAA D3, and one in the NAIA.

“I’m very pleased with the efforts of the six ladies who raced today,” women’s team coach Sharon Becker said. “I’m also very pleased to have this first race under our belts. The athletes and team learned a lot through their experiences racing today. Some struggled because of the heat while others learned they can overcome and adapt through the heat. I’m fortunate to be able to coach a team that includes individuals with the integrity and determination to embrace hard work.”

The cross country teams are coming off a successful 2021 season, with both finishing in the top 10 nationally and each with two runners earning All-American honors.

Men’s team coach Rob Hyde said squaring off against tough competition was a good way to start the year, but the team definitely has work to do. All-American Coleman Clark was the only runner unable to compete, but freshman Mason Kohloff had a strong showing in his first collegiate meet, finishing in 32nd with a team of 16:37.

Seven other men crossed the finished line, with all but one breaking the 20-minute mark.

Sophomores Andrew Periard, 17:51, and Craig Fuller, 18:00 led the remaining GRCC runners. They finished respectably in 53rd and 57th out of 74 total runners.

Other GRCC finishers included sophomore Derek Hopkins in 18:38, 63rd place; sophomore Lucas Schneider in 18:39, 64th place; freshman Daniel Kehoe in 18:40, 65th place, sophomore Zachary Richards in 18:59, 66th place; and freshman Alex Weber in 20:17, 69th place.

All-Americans Kaylee Scott and Audrey Meyering again led the women’s team. Battling hot temperatures, the sophomores posted solid times of 20:42 and 21:22.

Other finishers for the Raiders were sophomore Rose Meyer at 21:46; and newcomers Mariana Zaragoza, Chloe Jones and Samantha Sixberry who finished with times of 23:04, 23:22 and 23:53.

GRCC is next scheduled to compete in the Calvin Knight Invitational, which will be a 6K run for the women and 8K for the men.  That event is scheduled for Sept. 10, with the women running at 10 a.m. and the men at 11 a.m. for the men.  

My Story Started at GRCC: John Vesbit says GRCC’s caring faculty helped him find success in the theater

“GRCC is a second chance at success.”

John Vesbit enrolled at Columbia College Chicago after graduating from Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School, but it didn’t work out for him.

John Vesbit
John Vesbit

“When I returned home to Grand Rapids, I wasn’t sure what to do next, so I took a chance enrolling at GRCC,” he said.

He learned a lot – not all of it was on a syllabus.

“I am not a natural student,” Vesbit said. “I love learning but struggled, at the time, to focus on the work at hand. The patience and grace exhibited by many of the professors at GRCC helped me to overcome some of my bad habits as a student.

“It was at GRCC where I became a much more committed student and adult. Even when I failed, I would get up, dust myself off, and try again. GRCC gave me breathing room to fail and taught me the value of perseverance.”

After earning his associate degree in 2008, he received a bachelor’s degree in theater and speech communications from Siena Heights University and a master’s in theater arts from Eastern Michigan University.

He has worked on many theater productions, including “The Fantasticks” on Broadway. Since returning to Grand Rapids, he has taught classes for Grand Rapids Civic Theater, GRCC and Aquinas College and has directed and acted in West Michigan productions. He manages the box office and patron experience for Grand Rapids Circle Theater and has written plays for the Civic and Circle theaters.

“It’s not hyperbolic to say that I don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t chosen to enroll at GRCC when I did,” Vesbit said.

 “More important than the courses I took, it was the professors at GRCC who mentored and helped guide me through my college experience. It was because of their genuine interest in my success that I was able to hone my passions, not only for theater and creative writing, but they also assisted me with building a strong foundation for my eventual professional career.”

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

GRCC In the News, 9-6-22

Inside Track: Gilbert inspires HOAP for young people

9/2/22 Grand Rapids Business Journal

In a small office on 28th Street SE, a nonprofit helmed by founder and CEO Lakeshia Gilbert is offering underprivileged Grand Rapids youth fresh HOAP.

… She earned her first degree from Grand Rapids Community College, where she received an associate degree in criminal justice. From there, her academic and professional life bloomed. She went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in business management and human services and a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Phoenix. She also holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Cornerstone University.

Greek snack food maker bringing 185 jobs to Kentwood

9/2/22 WOOD TV

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — A Greek snack food manufacturer will open its first North American manufacturing facility in Kentwood, bringing 185 jobs to the area.

… The Right Place, Inc. said it worked with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to help lure Unismack to Kentwood. The MEDC’s Strategic Fund Board approved a $1 million performance-based grant for the project. The incentives also include a $614,000 workforce training package by West Michigan Works and Grand Rapids Community College.

Grand Rapids leaders want the city to be a tech hub. Here’s their 10-year plan.

9/6/22 Crain’s Detroit Business

GRAND RAPIDS — When you think of Grand Rapids, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t tech. The region’s economic development arm wants to change that.

… The task force hopes to prepare residents for those fields with K-12 schools, nonprofits, and higher education institutions like like Grand Rapids Community College, Davenport, Grand Valley State and Ferris — all of which participated in the strategic planning process.

National geography group features Mike DeVivo in new series

The American Association of Geographers has asked our very own Dr. Mike DeVivo to give an interview for a new interview series they are hosting! Since Dr. DeVivo is a past winner of the AAG’s Program Excellence Award, he was a natural to be included. This new series will focus on geography departments that have had success in building and sustaining their programs during these difficult past years. Their goal is to showcase exceptional geography programs that highlight best practices during a challenging climate of declining enrollments and funding and Dr. DeVivo’s GRCC Geography program certainly meets those goals! Congratulations to Dr. DeVivo and the amazing program you have created and are still building!  

Teaching, Learning, Distance Education news

We are here for you!

Faculty, are you seeking resources to support your online and/or in-person teaching? Are you thinking about developing a new online course or are you looking for ideas to spice up your instructional activities? The new Teaching, Learning, and Distance Education (TLDE) space can help. 

Feel free to stop by our office at 373 RJF.

Ian Matthews, the GRCC online instructional designer, is available by email, or in-person 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday through Friday to assist you in all things related to online teaching.

Faculty liaisons, Deb Vilmont and Rachel Lutwick-Deaner will hold drop-in hours on Wednesday, 9:00 am -11:00 am, and Thursday, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. 

Featured Upcoming Workshops/Events:

  1. FPE Overview – Wednesday, 9/7, 3-4pm and Friday, 9/9, 10-11am, In-person
  2. Curriculog Training – Friday, 9/9, 10–11am, Hyflex
  3. Panopto Basics – Tuesday, 9/13, 10-11:30am, Hyflex
  4. Quality Matters Rubric – Tuesday, 9/13-Tuesday, 10/4, Online (Asynchronous)
  5. Panopto Beyond Basics – Tuesday, 9/20, 1-2:30pm, Hyflex
  6. Tips and Tricks Fall 2022 – Thursday, 9/22, 11am-12pm, Hyflex
  7. Reminder: ETOM Fall 2022 Conference @ GVSU on Friday, 11/4 – see http://etom.org/event/fall2022conference for more information.

Please visit grcc.edu/CTELearningOpportunties for the current listing of all Fall 2022 Professional Development opportunities being offered by TLDE!

Adjunct Faculty Professional Development Funds
The GRCC website has been updated to reflect contract changes related to availability of adjunct professional development dollars.  Adjunct faculty members are encouraged to review the website and take advantage of this resource!  The Associate Deans continue to be the contact for this process in each of the Schools.

Labor Day plays role in National Payroll Week

It’s National Payroll Week 2022! It’s no coincidence that the week coincides with the week of Labor Day since it highlights the achievements and symbiotic partnerships between America’s employees, payroll professionals, and various government programs and agencies.

Did you know that typically twice a year there’s a third pay date per month on our biweekly pay schedule? To help celebrate National Payroll Week (or because it’s just how the dates fall) one of those is this month! There will be a third pay date in September. Keep in mind that items like health insurance premiums are not deducted on third pay dates, so your pay amount may be somewhat different than what you normally see. That’s the reason why! You can always reference the Payroll Schedule to keep on top of the dates.

GIANT Award ticket sales end on Sept. 19

Ticket sales for the 39th Annual GIANT Awards close at Noon on Monday, September 19, or when tickets sell out.

Online tickets are available on Eventbrite at tinyurl.com/grccequity

Join us as we celebrate the 2022 GIANT Award Honorees:

  • Floyd Skinner Justice Award: Adam C. Sturdivant, Partner, Drew Cooper & Anding
  • Walter Coe Public Service Award: Shellie Cole-Mickens, Founder and Executive Director, Our House of Blessings
  • W.W. Plummer Humanitarian Award: Nikeidra Battle-DeBarge, CEO and Co-Founder, New Destiny Pathways Inc.
  • Ethel Coe Humanities Award: Henry Sapp, CEO, Better, Wiser, Stronger Inc.
  • Milo Brown Business Award: Daryl D. Reece, Owner, Stock Da Bar & Stock Da Bar Vodka
  • Phyllis Scott Activist Award: Grand C.I.T.Y. Sports, Inc., Chris Sain, Jr., Co-Founder and CEO, and Preston Sain, Co-Founder and Executive Director.
  • Raymond Tardy Community Service Award: Raynard Ross, President, Grand Rapids Public School Board, and associate dean of student success at GRCC.
  • H.C. Toliver Religious Life Award: Julian S. Newman, CEO, and Founder, The FutureCast Foundation.
  • Hattie Beverly Education Award: Lorenzo Bradshaw, Principal, Brookwood Elementary
  • Martha Reynolds Labor Award: Kevin L. Clemens, President, Kent County Court’s Union, an affiliate of the Technical, Professional, and Office workers Association of Michigan (TPOAM)
  • William Glenn Trailblazer Award: Jermale Eddie, Co-Owner and CEO, Malamiah Juice Bar & Malamazing Juice Company

And the 2021 and 2022 Junior GIANT Scholarship recipients!

An award presented at the 2019 Giants Awards: the H.C. Toliver Religious Life Award presented to Bishop Dennis J. McMurray and Dr. E. Jean Lackey-McMurray.