Workforce Wednesday: Thomas Gibson turns from teaching to construction in search for a new career

Thomas Gibson has been a teacher for the past 10 years, but decided he needed a change.

“I left the field of teaching because I really wanted to do something more hands-on,” he said. “I was looking for something in high demand that has vertical growth opportunity. I was really missing the satisfaction of completing a product or project. I like being able to dig into a project complete the tasks and see that finished product.’

Gibson was familiar with GRCC through his work in education.

“As I did research, I found that the GRCC Construction Electrical program was the best fit for me,” he said. “This program is a great environment to learn the basics and because I was transitioning from one field to another, it provides a way to network with others in the field, including employers.”

The GRCC Workforce Training Construction Electrical Job Training program provides the basic knowledge and skills required to be placed in an electrical apprenticeship program in just 18 weeks of training.

“This is a really awesome teaching format,” Gibson said. “The combination of classroom learning and hands-on learning is perfect. The lab is set up with all the different simulations so we get practice for many different situations.”

Students participate in job site, lab area, field trip and classroom settings. Learning is hands-on in all areas of electrical installation including employability skills, construction and electrical safety, hand and power tool safety, electrical math, electrical history, electrical theory, the National Electrical Code, electrical material identification, blue print reading, underground installations and residential and commercial wiring.

As a former teacher, Gibson appreciates his instructor’s learning style.

“Doug Wiersma is awesome and very supportive. He does a great job pushing us. I like the way he allows us a safe place to try and fail and actually encourages us to do that. You couldn’t do that on the jobsite.”

He also enjoys his relationship with others in the program.

“I like the students here,” he said. “We’ve really built a community. The smaller group allows us to get to know each other.”

Gibson will graduate in December and is already applying for jobs. Once graduates of this program are hired, they may register with the State of Michigan as an Apprentice Electrician. The 18-week Job Training program covers the first year of training in the four-year apprenticeship.

This type of life change takes courage and support for the whole family. Gibson is grateful for his wife’s support.

 “When no one is in your corner when making a huge life choice like this it is quite easy to give up. I really enjoy this program. It is the best part of my day!”

According to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, there will be 16 percent job growth annually in this field from 2012 to 2022.

New sessions of GRCC Job Training programs begin throughout the year. The next session begins January 23, 2023. For more information go to

Thomas Gibson stands next to an unfinished wall.

GRCC basketball player Danyel Bibbs earns MCCAA Northern Conference Player of the Week honors after hot start

Danyel Bibbs of the Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team was named Michigan Community College Athletic Association Northern Conference player of the week.

“I’m very excited for Danyel to receive this honor,” coach Joe Fox said. “His work ethic is relentless, and he brings energy and enthusiasm to practice every single day. He has persevered through a lot of adversity to get to this point, and I’m looking forward to watching him keep taking the next step forward in his academic and athletic career.”

Bibbs, a Saginaw native who attended Union High in Grand Rapids, is coming off a season-high 28 points and 11 assists in Tuesday’s game against the Great Lakes Christian College junior varsity team, helping his team to a 103-90 victory.

Last week, the sophomore point guard helped guide the team to two more victories, scoring 27 points against Olivet College JV and 19 points against Cornerstone University JV.  He also totaled 10 assists with seven coming against Cornerstone, while shooting 15 of 26 from the field.

The men’s basketball team is off to a perfect 3-0 start to the season.

The team’s next game is Nov. 10 at the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse against Lansing Community College, a former Western Conference foe, at 7:30 p.m. or 20 minutes after the conclusion of the women’s game.  

Danyel Bibbs tries for a basket as a Glen Oaks player guards him.

With enrollment rising at GRCC Lakeshore Campus, students can learn how college can change their lives at Saturday open house

Enrollment at the Grand Rapids Community College’s Lakeshore Campus is up by more than 20 percent after its first year, and a Saturday open house can help potential students with any questions about enrolling in the future.

Potential students of all ages can learn more about how GRCC can help change their lives at the event, planned for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 12 at the campus, 12335 James St. in Holland.

The event is open to all potential students and families, whether they are considering taking classes at the Lakeshore Campus, on GRCC’s Main Campus in Grand Rapids, or online.

GRCC specialists and faculty can help open house participants navigate through admissions and financial aid processes and discuss eligibility for cost-saving programs such as Michigan Reconnect or scholarships through the GRCC Foundation.

The event also will include tours of the 52,000-square-foot campus, which opened in August 2021 in the Shops at Westshore Mall.

The facility has nine classrooms, four computer labs and five unique labs for biology, chemistry, electronics, automation, welding and machine tooling, housing programs for students working toward an associate degree or a career-focused certificate.

Enrollment at the Lakeshore Campus has increased from 1,025 students in fall 2021 to 1,243 this fall.

“The Lakeshore open house is a great opportunity for people interested in learning more about how a GRCC education can get them the skills, credits or degrees they need to transform their lives,” said Lori Cook, associate dean of Access and First Year Success. “Our new, consolidated GRCC Lakeshore Campus makes an affordable, quality GRCC education more accessible. We encourage people to come and visit whether they are planning to attend, or just want to know more about the new campus and how it benefits the Lakeshore communities.” 

While walk-ins are welcome, students can reserve a spot by registering at

Basic needs drive runs through Nov. 18

Hey all!

Now is a great time to clear out the back of your pantry and cabinets and bring in your usable non-perishable food and basic needs items!

Psi Beta has officially kicked off the food and basic needs drive and we are actively collecting donations! There is a collection bin in the lobby of Sneden, another in the Student Center outside of the Raider Grill, or items can be brought up to the 3rd floor of White hall. We will be collecting until Friday, Nov 18th.

Attached is the flier again. If you could please remind students in class and on Blackboard, and consider donating items yourself, that would be wonderful! It’s possible many of the students who utilize the food pantry in Sneden, the one this food drive helps to stock, are students in your classes.

If you have items you would like to donate but do not come to campus, please let assistant professor Julia Sobesky Carey, Psi Beta advisor, know to arrange a time to meet or pick up the items!

Psi Beta members thank you for your support!

United Way Campaign 2022

Big Thank YOU to everyone that has donated thus far, we are almost half way to our goal.  As of today the campus community has donated $10,000 toward our $25,000 campaign goal.  Congratulations to Don VanOveren, he won the year of free parking for making a donation between November 1 – 4th.  We can’t meet our goal without your help.  Therefore, please consider donating, it is as easy as clicking, entering your username (GRCC email address) and your password (employee ID)!  

Monday, November 14th anyone that has donated to this year’s campaign will be put in a drawing for a certificate to the Heritage and GRCC Swag!  

LIVE UNITED…you CAN make a difference in someone’s life!!