GRCC’s Sophia Brewer sharing her expertise, passion for learning in statewide leadership role with Michigan Library Association

Sophia Brewer standing next to a bookshelf, holding a book, smiling.

GRCC Reference and Collection Development Librarian Sophia Brewer is sharing her expertise and passion for learning and history in a new statewide leadership role.

Brewer was elected to be one of the Michigan Library Association’s three new directors-at-large, a move she said is a logical progression in a career that has been marked by a love for libraries.

“I want to serve the profession that has given me so much,” she said.

The Michigan Library Association is the state’s oldest and largest library association, serving the library profession for more than 130 years.

The organization supports more than 2,000 libraries throughout Michigan from public, academic, school and special libraries, as well as organizations that are supportive of libraries. The group advances the profession through sharing of best practices, innovative ideas and new programs and services that benefit library personnel, library patrons and the communities it serves.

Brewer added that she was intrigued by one of the MLA’s top strategic priorities: efforts around equity, diversity, accessibility and belonging.

“I want to learn more about and have an impact on these efforts,” she said. “Banning books and the efforts to suppress the history of Black, Indigenous and people of color concerns me. I am my ancestors, so that history follows me when I walk into the room and sit at the table. I am the walking story and legacy of my ancestors. I will not be banned.”

That passion is also evident in her work at and love for GRCC.

She started part-time at GRCC as an adjunct in 2007 and as a full-time librarian in 2014. She oversees a wide variety of resources, but she loves that her work puts her in regular contact with students.

“I love to help students with research, including finding scholarly material and citing sources,” she said. “The best part about my job is the ability to work with students and staff via campus-wide efforts. I teach information literacy classes and serve as a liaison for several departments, including business, communications and culinary arts. I represent the library in everything I do, but I also am able to share and learn about the people who make GRCC great.”

A native of McComb, Miss., Brewer went on to attend Jackson State University, one of the largest HBCUs in the United States, and there she majored in elementary education before going on to earn her master’s degree in Library Science from Wayne State University in Detroit.

Prior to earning her MLA seat, Brewer spent seven years as a Grand Rapids Public Library commissioner, and her decision to run for the state seat compelled GRCC professor Lauren Woolsey to run for Brewer’s vacated position.

She said it was gratifying to be a GRPL commissioner and serve and have a positive impact in the community where she lives and works.

She also has served as a board member and presenter for the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council and is a member of the Grand Rapids Civilians Appeals Board, which she joined in 2020 after the killing of George Floyd.

And she writes a regular column for the Grand Rapids Times, founded in 1957 and the oldest existing weekly publication targeted to Black communities in Grand Rapids.

“I represent the voice of an everyday person,” she said. “I use my words to draw lines and images that connect our present to our past and future. It’s important for me to keep doing this because, in my mind, the reader of my column and I are growing together. As we grow, we learn, and when we know better, we do better.”

This story was reported by Phil de Haan.

Raider Salute to Dewayn Faber and Jeremy Manning

Our maintenance and custodial staff have been working so hard this winter!  A special shout out to Dewayn Faber and Jeremy Manning.

They have been short staffed, but Dewayn has been coming in at 3 AM to get all of the sidewalks and things cleared for everyone. Plus they both have taken care of countless issues in White Hall.

Thanks Dewayn and Jeremy – your hard work is appreciated!

–Kate Christian

Reminder that nominations for the Salute to Women Awards are due Feb. 17

25th Annual Salute to Women Awards logo in fancy blue script.

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) wants to send out a friendly reminder that the 25th Annual Salute to Women Awards is right around the corner.

The deadline for all nomination submissions are due Friday, February 17, 2023.

The award celebrates the accomplishments of women and gender equity advocates who impact the GRCC community.

The award is open to all GRCC stakeholders regardless of gender or gender identity.

The nomination form is available on the ODEI Salute to Women website.

The awards recognition ceremony will take place Wednesday, March 29 from Noon to 1 p.m. in Sneden 108.


Versiti is back at GRCC on Wednesday, March 22

Did you know that even though approximately 38% of the population is eligible to donate blood, less than 5% actually do? Every day, patients in our communities need red blood cells, platelets and plasma to keep them feeling healthy and strong. 

The blood you donate today ensures there is enough for tomorrow. One pint of your blood could be used to save three lives in the local community.

Have an hour to spare? Collection only takes about 10 minutes, and you can save time by pre-registering online! After registration and collection, you get to sit back and relax with some snacks and activities!

Other perks include:

  • a $10 e-gift card
  • a free parking pass
  • a Noodles and Company gift card for buy-one-get-one noodles. Yum!
  • learn your blood type
  • check off an item on your bucket list!

Help us reach our donation goal!

Schedule an appointment online or reach out to Rebecca Lubbers at for more information.

‘Darwin Never Saw This Coming’ lecture by Dr. Forbes on Feb 7 is cancelled

This lecture is cancelled due to illness

As part of the national Darwin Day celebration, GRCC Biological Sciences will partner with the Michigan Humanists to offer a public lecture presented by GRCC professor Greg Forbes.

The lecture, “Darwin Never Saw This Coming; A Human Population Beyond 8 Billion!” will be a discussion of population biology, evolution and the future of Earth’s ecosystems.

The event is planned for 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the Calkins Science Center Auditorium, room 348. Doors open at 6:40 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

GRCC In the News 02/07/2023

Community college plans Center for Automation to boost talent pipeline

2/6/23 Grand Rapids Business Journal

A local community college unveiled plans for a hub to train the next generation of advanced manufacturing and automation workers. 

Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) announced late last week, alongside U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Hillary Scholten, it plans to create a $998,000 Center for Automation. 

Check out these Black History Month events in Grand Rapids for 2023

2/6/23 MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — West Michigan residents have a host of events to choose from to celebrate Black History Month, from lectures to cooking classes to museum exhibits.

… Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) will host Grand Rapids Pride Center Executive Director Jazz McKinney for a keynote address at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at the college’s Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center Auditorium, 151 Fountain St. NE. McKinney has worked in the mental health field for over 10 years and has done racial justice advocacy work for nearly two decades.

Early Learning Neighborhood Collective looking for more teachers

2/6/23 FOX 17

GRAND RAPIDS, Mi. — Children who attend a quality pre-school program get a boost and studies show they’re more prepared as they move on to kindergarten and elementary school. The impacts can often be felt long after those formative years, making early childhood education crucial on so many levels. But there are plenty of children missing out.

… But this community problem may have a community solution. The ELNC (Early Learning Neighborhood Collective) has established an apprenticeship program – hoping to partner parents with teachers, get them on the job training, to grand rapids community college and finally into the empty classrooms. Dr. (Nkechy) Ezeh is confident they can find people perfect for these positions. “I want the community to know we need them. There are so many people sitting out there that love the children, love working with children. They love seeing children being happy, exploring, being free. If you are one of those people we need to come on in we can train you we can give you all the skills you need.” Skills that will have an impact – by making sure more children will have a place where they’re learning, growing and loved.

Ottawa County details $57 million in ARPA money payouts


Ottawa County will distribute $57 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money. The federal aid is intended to address the economic impact of the pandemic and ensure a strong and equitable recovery. The county will use the money to help increase staffing numbers for nonprofits, improve and expand natural areas available to the public, create more affordable housing, and other projects.

… GRCC direct care provider certification programs

Nonprofits Benjamin’s Hope, Harbor House Ministries, Heritage Homes Inc., and MOKA Corp., organizations that work to improve the lives of and care for those with developmental differences or mental illness, in partnership with Grand Rapids Community College and Community Mental Health

2022 Newsmaker: Jen Schottke

2/3/23 Grand Rapids Business Journal

… GRCC is a partner on the West Michigan Construction Institute, which is working with area public school systems, including Northview High School, Jenison High School and Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Chartreuse Sisters: A Taste of France

2/6/23 Revue

Alyson and Mallory Caillaud-Jones, born to a Muskegon father and a French mother, spent their childhood summers in the south of France. The village of Roquebrun was not large, its population never straying much from the mid-hundreds. 

… “Somehow being an actor in Grand Rapids seemed more realistic than being a baker,” said Mallory, laughing. Still, she enrolled in Grand Rapids Community College’s culinary program. One semester in, the pandemic hit, forcing a pause: a potential dealbreaker.

Mental Health First Aid is back

Head with a heart bubble that has a yellow plus sign in it.

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course (divided up over two days) that teaches you how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders in adults (ages 18 and older). The training gives you the skills you need to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or is experiencing a crisis.

The next chance to participate in this learning experience is March 21 & 22.

Participants in past MHFA trainings had this to say about their experience:

“This training required the participants to step out of their comfort zone and have somewhat uncomfortable but necessary conversations regarding mental health. Conversation and sharing helped me realize that my own experiences were not that different than those of others in the group.” 

“I took this workshop to be sure I was using the correct verbage and steps necessary to assist a student appropriately in a crisis situation.  I had always wondered if I was saying the right things to them and was I taking the right steps to assist a student in a crisis. I was glad to find out that I was saying the right things and taking correct actions and I was also able to practice a discussion with a pretend student in a suicide crisis. Which I found it was not easy for me, but now I know what I must say and take action.”

“The Mental Health First Aid training is a valuable opportunity for all employees at GRCC. The training is beneficial for the work we do at the College as well as within our personal lives.”

“I’m glad to see training provided on another facet of first aid. If training exists for first responders to physical crisis, it makes sense that we are trained for those in mental/psychological crisis.”

Lunch will be served on both days.

Register for this opportunity via your Online Center account.

Faculty cap, gown orders due by February 10

The GRCC Bookstore is taking orders for caps and gowns for staff and faculty through February 10.

If you are in need of any commencement regalia, please stop in the bookstore and fill out the form to order yours today! Please fill the form out entirely – we will need both your height and weight to submit the order for the correct size.

Due to turnaround time and production needs, all orders and prepayments must be in by February 10 to be ready in time for the April GRCC Commencement ceremony.

We are open Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.  Payment is due at time of order. We accept cash and credit cards. 

Faculty gowns are solid black with black cap and black tassel. 

Hoods are custom to your school and degree. 

See the order form below for reference. 

Saturday morning playgroup at the ECLL

Play and Learn GRCC is offering a monthly Saturday morning playgroup at the ECLL for families living in Kent County with a child/infant through 5 years old. 

Join us this Saturday for a morning of play, stories, song, and fun! This program is funded by the Ready by Five Early Childhood millage.


January 14: 10:30-12:00

February 11: 10:30-12:00

March 11: 10:30-12:00

210 Lyon Street NE, Grand Rapids, MI

Questions? Email: