More than 1,500 students are still eligible to attend GRCC with costs covered by Grand Rapids Promise Zone

More than 1,500 students are still eligible to receive a quality Grand Rapids Community College education with costs covered by the Grand Rapids Promise Zone.

Students may be eligible to receive the Promise Zone scholarship even if they took time off after graduating high school, or are attending another college or university and are looking to earn more affordable credits as a guest student.

“Many people took a gap year or headed into the working world during the pandemic, and might not realize they are still eligible to attend GRCC through the Grand Rapids Promise Zone,” Promise Zone director Ashlee Mishler said.

“We are still here for them. And GRCC is offering classes in a variety of formats to help students plan around their work and home responsibilities. It’s a perfect opportunity to gain credits or in-demand skills to advance in their careers.”

The Promise Zone scholarship is available for students who live within the Grand Rapids Public Schools service area and graduate from one of the 25 public, public charter, or private high schools located within boundaries of the Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Started in 2020, the Grand Rapids Promise Zone is a “last-dollar” scholarship that covers up to 60 credit hours — 30 credit hours for those 50% eligible — including the costs of tuition, books, required course materials and any required fees associated with attending GRCC.

Eligible students have five years to access these funds from the time they graduate high school. Once enrolled, they must take at least six credits a semester, unless classes are taken during the summer semester. Students who opt to attend a different college or university can still use the Promise Zone scholarship as a GRCC guest student during the summer semesters.

About 500 students are attending GRCC this fall.

“There was so much uncertainty during the pandemic, and many people put their college education on hold,” Mishler said. “GRCC will work with them to get back on track, because having that degree or career certificate will help them in whatever they plan to do in the years to come. The Grand Rapids Promise Zone is a community investment in their future.”

Additional information is available at, by email at and by phone at (616) 234-4321. 

Learn from the Best: GRCC’s Sue DelRaso tells students it’s never too late to pursue a change

Sue DelRaso loves working with GRCC students, because she was once in their shoes. 

DelRaso came to GRCC pursuing a complete career change. She had been working as an executive assistant for nearly 20 years while also managing debilitating migraines. After doctors in 2004 informed her to reduce stressors in her life, DelRaso enrolled at GRCC and pursued a new career path in Computer Applications. 

DelRaso came to GRCC as a mother of a middle school student and recalls studying and doing homework with her son. 

On top of juggling studying, attending classes, and being a mom, she began working at the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center Computer Lab as a student tutor. 

DelRaso began receiving more responsibilities and worked her way up as she completed her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ferris State University. 

Finally, in 2009 she started working full time at GRCC and is now the tutorial coordinator for the ATC and the Open Computer Lab, Mechanical & Architectural/CAD Lab, and the Sneden Computer Lab. 

DelRaso said the best part of her job is getting to meet and help a variety of people.

“It’s fun to see the light bulb go off when a student finally understands,” she said.

DelRaso’s tutoring strategy involves helping students find answers themselves, rather than giving them the answers. She encourages tutors to ask students questions to find the answer. 

Students should leave with the tools to solve problems themselves in the future. It works, too. One particular student who graduated with honors, credits the tutoring lab for giving him the skills he needed. 

DelRaso is proud to have watched GRCC change and grow for the past 19 years. 

“We have been changing and adapting to what goes on in the community and the job force;  evolving what we offer and how we offer it,” she said. 

The changes we are making allow us to better serve our students. DelRaso uses her own story to prove it is never too late to start a new career or go back to school. Encouraging students not to give up.  

“There’s always people who are willing to help you,” she said. “We want you to succeed, we are doing everything we can to help you succeed”. 

More information about the ATC Tutorial Lab and Open Computer Lab can be found here. 

GRCC women’s basketball team tops Hope College junior varsity in double overtime, while men win ninth straight

The Grand Rapids Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams picked up two wins against Hope College junior varsity on Thursday, with the women outlasting the Dutch 71-69 in double overtime and the men dominating to stay unbeaten with a 90-66 victory.

The women’s team played from behind nearly the entire night, trailing by as many as 15 points in the game, but surged back with big play after big play down the stretch in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore guard Alyssa Katerberg hit a three-pointer with 1:48 left in regulation to tie the game. On the next possession she put the team up for the first time since early in the first quarter with a free throw to make it 55-54. Emersyn Koepke made it a two-point game, but Hope forced overtime with a bucket with 27 seconds to go.

In the first overtime, with the team down by two points, Marlene Bussler drove through multiple Hope players to sink a layup with 12 seconds left. The GRCC defense didn’t allow a shot, forcing the teams to a second overtime.

Sally Merrill scored the final go-ahead bucket with 27 seconds left in the game and then held on to her career-high 21st rebound just as the final buzzer sounded after a missed Hope three-pointer.

Grace Lodes recorded a double-double with 13 points and 18 rebounds while adding a career-best six assists. Bussler finished with a team-high 22 points and Katerberg finished with 12 points.

The men’s team cruised to its ninth straight win to start the season, forcing 16 turnovers while only having eight giveaways.

Freshman guard Jajuan Walker nearly had a triple-double posting 18 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists.

Freshman Bashir Neely was the game’s leading scorer, finishing 12-of-24 from the floor for 29 points.  He also had a team-high eight assists and four steals.

Jordan Houser dropped in 18 points, while Chris Coleman scored 16 and Seth Schuitema added nine.

Both teams return to the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse on Dec. 10 for a matchup against former Western Conference rival Lake Michigan College.  The women will tip-off first at 1 p.m. 

The GRCC family extends condolences to the family of Wendell Chivis

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

Wendell 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.

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.

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.