Celebrate Dr. Kathy Mullins’ career supporting GRCC students

An open house retirement celebration for Dr. Kathy Mullins, vice president for College Advancement and executive director of the GRCC Foundation, is planned for Thursday, Dec. 15 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in The Heritage restaurant.

Everyone is invited to stop by and thank Dr. Mullins for her years of service to GRCC and its students, and wish her the best in her new role as vice president for University Advancement and Marketing at our partner, Ferris State University.

Dr. Mullins has raised millions of dollars for student scholarships and facility improvements. She worked with community partners and donors to double the amount of money available for scholarships and generate resources to transform and modernize facilities throughout the campus.

Dr. Mullins also oversees GRCC’s Grants and Development team, which shattered the college record for grant funding to support students and programs. She also directed GRCC’s award-winning Communications and Web and Digital Strategy teams.

Dr. Mullins has headed the GRCC foundation since 2012. Last year, it distributed more than $1.4 million in scholarships to more than 1,600 students. The foundation also raised funds to renovate the historical Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, Steven C. Ender Hall and Custer Alumni House. A series of renovations and a new addition have transformed the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center, a building that also houses Ferris programs.

“Dr. Mullins’ work at Grand Rapids Community College has had an impact on every student, whether they are supported by a scholarship or taking classes and accessing services in state-of-the-art facilities,” Interim President Juan R. Olivarez said. “She has built relationships with partners across the region to create more and better opportunities that bring about generational changes for students and their families.”

Please consider making a donation to the Foundation in her honor, a suggested designation would be the Women in Philanthropy scholarship. Kathy has worked hard to cultivate this scholarship over the last few years, with a special group of women from both the external and internal community.  When donating remember to include in the “tribute gift” field; in honor of Kathy Mullins, Women in Philanthropy scholarship.

The GRCC family extends condolences to the family of Wendall Chivis

GRCC sends its condolences to the family of longtime GRCC staffer Wendall Chivis, who passed away on Nov. 30.

Wendall was a Grand Rapids native who attended what was then Grand Rapids Junior College before graduating from Grand Valley State University. He retired from GRCC after 24 years, most recently as shipping and receiving agent.

Visitation is planned for 1-5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9 at Messiah Missionary Baptist Church, 513 Henry St. SE in Grand Rapids. A Celebration of Life is planned for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10 at Messiah Missionary Baptist Church.

700 Senior citizens to have a happier holiday due to GRCC Gerontology students

Students from Gerontology 262, Aging in America completed a volunteer project for the Fall Semester. Several guest speakers regularly speak to the class; one is from a local agency, “Home Instead.”

After listening to the speaker and the needs of the agency, the students decided to help with making the holiday season a little merrier for 700 senior citizens in Kent County.

Students organized the project independently. Holiday greeting cards were made for senior citizens and gifts that had been donated were wrapped. Every student completed their work and the course!

Students Jessica Chandadai, Bryn Perkins, and Monica Middleton went the extra mile to do the organization, drive to and from the agency to drop off cards, pick up gifts and unload/carry the gifts into the classroom for wrapping as well as back out to waiting vehicles after the wrapping was done, and drop wrapped gifts off.

School News Network Feature: GEAR UP program helping high school juniors prepare for success at GRCC – and beyond

After school recently at Lee High School, math tutor Kristine Wright pulled out bags of snacks for the students planning to attend that day’s session.

On Tuesdays she offers math tutoring, and on Thursdays she hosts an SAT prep session. Some students in Wright’s study group at Lee have been a part of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs — GEAR UP — cohort for the past few years.

Both study opportunities are available for Lee’s GEAR UP students, now in their junior year.

Junior Annette Gonzolez said she was afraid to take the SAT in a few months and write essays for her college applications. Wright assured her, “I have everything we need to get you all prepped.”

Junior Alexsandra Cortez-Torres said she’s excited to work with Wright every week, as math is not her favorite subject.

Thanks to Wright’s support and the resources and opportunities offered by GEAR UP, Alexsandra also is now looking forward to college. She plans to attend Grand Rapids Community College and has set her sights on transferring to the University of Michigan, though her major is unclear.

Time is flying for Alexsandra and her classmates as they prepare to take their SAT exams in the spring and continue to tour college campuses.

“They tell you, ‘You’re just a ninth-grader. You have so much time,’” she recalled. “Where did that time go?”

Preparing Families for the Future

GEAR UP has worked since 2018 to increase college and career readiness of students in four Wyoming school districts: Wyoming, Kelloggsville, Godwin Heights and Godfrey-Lee. It started with cohorts of seventh-graders to work with through middle and high school.

GRCC was the only college in Michigan to receive a $2.1 million, six-year grant from the U.S. Education Department to fund the program.

Program Director Steve Beauclair has a checklist for the class of 2024 and their families.

“Now that our cohort students are juniors, we’re asking families to put together a potential college list — the more colleges the better,” he said. “When students make the visit, (we ask) does it feel like a good fit? Do they see themselves being successful here? Do they see people who look like themselves?”

GEAR UP also connects with both English and Spanish-speaking families to research scholarships and to complete federal student aid applications.

“There is a lot of financial aid available,” Beauclair said. “And we want parents of seniors to be in the position to have multiple financial aid packages so they can make the best decision.”

Alexsandra said GEAR UP has helped her understand how to eliminate the financial barriers to college by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – known as FAFSA — and applying for scholarships. 

“It’s not that I’m not smart enough for college, it’s the money that is the problem,” she said.

Building Confidence, Continued Support

Annette said GEAR UP opened her eyes to new opportunities and built her confidence about making decisions about attending college.

“They help you in the present with high school classes, and help prepare you for college and the future,” she said. “Thinking about college gives you anxiety, but being able to (visit) colleges to see what they offer makes the process easier.”

Annette plans to start at GRCC and eventually transfer to Davenport University to “maybe pursue something in business.”

“I want to go to GRCC because it’s close to home and they have resources to help you out,” she said. “I’m nervous but excited to be in a new environment and meet new people.”

Being a part of the GEAR UP cohort has helped alleviate junior Melanie Zapata’s fears.

“We graduate next year, and I’m scared, but not as scared about going to college knowing I have help,” she said.

GEAR UP’s parent and student surveys gauge their comfort as they move closer to applying to colleges.

“We sense a growing urgency amongst parents as they get closer to graduation and college,” Beauclair said. “We stand at the ready to help get (students) into GRCC, and we’ve taken them to all these schools with the purpose of giving them options.”

He said the grant has a goal of 80% completion of the original cohort of 800 students in the four districts. 

“You build connections working with the students along the way, and we’ll still be available for them at GRCC,” Wright said. “We want them to be successful.”

This story was reported by Alexis Stark of the School News Network.

LMCU is bringing our MaxAdvantage to you

Lake Michigan Credit Union is excited to share some exclusive service and benefits with GRCC employees.

With LMCU’s MaxAdvantage program, in addition to earning more on your checking and paying less with $150 off your mortgage, you’ll experience exclusive access to VIP Service.

You can also enjoy close and convenient branch locations.  While LMCU’s branch office at GRCC has closed, we are still open with 20 branches in Kent County and 7 locations in Ottawa, our teams are ready and eager to assist you with all your financial needs.

Ready to get started or interested in learning more?  Visit the LMCU MaxAdvantage page and experience why over 500,000 members have already chose LMCU for their financial needs.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

GRCC in the News 12/08/2022

New athlete mentor program boosts grades, builds community 

12/2/22 School News Network (Kent Intermediate School District)

Grand Rapids Community College freshman Vanessa Hewitt has played softball since she was 4. 

Opportunities + confidence = preparation

12/7/22 School News Network (Kent Intermediate School District)

After school recently at Lee High School, math tutor Kristine Wright pulled out bags of snacks for the students planning to attend that day’s session. 

… Thanks to Wright’s support and the resources and opportunities offered by GEAR UP, Alexsandra (Cortez-Torres) also is now looking forward to college. She plans to attend GRCC and has set her sights on transferring to the University of Michigan, though her major is unclear.

Be loud and proud, refresh your headshot on Jan. 5

GRCC has outstanding faculty and staff members. Help us show students, potential students and community members the quality of the people here at GRCC serving our community by having a current headshot for the website and other uses.

The Communications Department is providing an opportunity for faculty and staff to have free headshots photographed from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 5 – Learning Day – on the third floor of the Student Center in the lounge area.

Without a headshot, the webpage shows a missing photo icon or a RaiderCard photo.

Communications stresses that GRCC provides an affordable education, but more importantly, a quality education. Our expert faculty and dedicated staff members are selling points! Help us highlight your work and attract new students by updating your headshot and web bio.