My Story Started at GRCC: Microsoft’s Justin Ruehs says GRCC allowed him to grow as a person, learn at his own pace

Justin Ruehs had goals, and GRCC worked with him at his own pace to reach them.

Justin Ruehs
Justin Ruehs

“GRCC allowed me to grow as a person and as a student at a pace and at a scale that was not overwhelming coming from a smaller town that didn’t have as many opportunities for students as some of the bigger or wealthier West Michigan public school districts,” he said. “GRCC gave me the opportunity to achieve higher education goals on my own by allowing classes that fit around my work schedule.”

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.

During his time at the college, Ruehs worked at the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center, which counts among his favorite GRCC memories.

“I paid my tuition as I went – not to say it was easy taking a full class load, working on campus part time as a student worker in a work-study program and holding down a full-time job, but it was my path to bettering myself through education.”

Ruehs also appreciated the ease with which his two associate degrees transferred to Grand Valley State University, where he earned a bachelor’s health communications with a minor in public relations in 2000.

He later received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and recently completed an MBA with a concentration in insurance from Olivet College. He also has earned professional designations through The Institutes and the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research.

He’s put his classroom knowledge, as well as his time management and teamwork skills, to use as a risk manager for Microsoft.

“I oversee six of their insurance programs as well as working with our three ‘captives’ (wholly owned subsidiaries),” he said. “Prior to Microsoft, I worked as a large property underwriter for Liberty Mutual, AIG (American International Group) and AFM, part of FM Global.”

He also works on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at Microsoft and with outside organizations, such as the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation and the Chicago chapter of the CPCU Society. The father of triplets, he’s also a mentor with Foster Progress, which helps Illinois youths in foster care attain a college degree and successfully transition to adulthood.

Ruehs is passionate about helping others because he’s grateful for the support he’s received in his life.

“I am so fortunate for a few key people in my professional and educational journeys that took a chance on me and gave me a shot to learn new skills or roles,” he said. “Showing up, doing the work and exceeding expectations always opened the next door.”

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