Retirement bio of Mary Hofstra

Mary Hofstra smiling.

Mary’s career at GRCC – in her own words…

I have worked at GRCC in the area of Workforce Training for 27.5 years. My primary role has been to serve the Business community in ways that help elevate the knowledge
and skills of their employees, while promoting all that GRCC has to offer. This may
mean supplying them with on-site training quotes, referring them to other areas/people
within GRCC, recommending public workshops, and writing grants to offset company

It also means working with some external partners to help them with
attraction projects by promoting the capabilities within GRCC, or working with external
partners to help employers secure different funding options that are not
available through GRCC. I love the fact that although my primary job
responsibilities have been the same, my job is different every day and I have been
blessed to meet so many wonderful people.

I am still trying to figure out what life will be like when I am retired. I know I will be spending more time with family (especially my grandkids), relaxing at our summer place
at Sandy Pines, traveling to Tucson, AZ in March, Israel in May, Alaska in September,
and hopefully doing more volunteer work.

Congratulations and best wishes Mary!

My GRCC Story: Shamarri Key taps Michigan Reconnect and campus mentors for successful return to college at 27

Shamarri Key holding a pan of freshly baked loaves of bread, smiling.

For Shamarri Key, cooking is love.

“I can vividly remember cooking with my family, all of us laughing and joking together,” said Key, a 27-year-old enrolled in Grand Rapids Community College’s culinary arts program. “I felt the overall presence of passion and perseverance that gave me the enthusiasm to thrive for a bigger purpose.”

Thanks to GRCC’s award-winning Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, plenty of hard work, and financial aid from Michigan Reconnect, Key is bringing his childhood dream to life.

The Grand Rapids native enrolled at GRCC after graduating in 2013 from Creston High School. While attending GRCC for two years, Key balanced two part-time jobs, carried nine credit hours, coached track at Ottawa Hills High School, and volunteered as a mentor for the DECA program at Innovation Central High School.

Eventually it became overwhelming, and Key decided to put his education on hold to establish himself in the workforce as an adult. But after five years, Key felt he wasn’t getting the most out of life that he could.

“My twin, Jamarri, had graduated from GRCC with his associate degree in science, and my mom graduated from GRCC; she has degrees in art and nursing. I said, ‘Hey, I need a degree, too. I can’t be left behind,’” he said.

He returned to GRCC in August 2021, successfully repaying a balance from his first time at school using the college’s Debt Forgiveness Program.

But Key still had a hill to climb: Despite taking out a student loan in early 2022 to continue his academic career, he was still short on tuition and uncertain where to turn.

“Then I was in Student Life one day talking with the director, Lina Blair, and she told me about Michigan Reconnect,” Key said.

Michigan Reconnect is a state program that covers the cost of in-district tuition for Michiganders 25 or older without a college degree. This program provides eligible students with access to pursue an associate degree or occupational certificate at their local community college.

“The Reconnect program is a door-opener for people who have that financial barrier in front of them and think they don’t want to go to school if they have to pay it all themselves,” said Key, who qualified for the program in April 2022.

With tuition covered by Reconnect and the help of his GRCC mentor, Dr. Andre Fields, Key decided to pursue a degree in the culinary arts.

“The fondest and happiest moments in my life revolved around family dinners and cooking sessions as a child with my mother and grandmother,” he said. “The memory of my grandma making Southern spicy fried corn and letting me taste it … that’s what really brought me back to college — and the culinary arts,” he said.

Now Key, who works part-time in GRCC’s student records office, is taking a smaller class load so he doesn’t get overwhelmed. And he loves his culinary arts classes — especially baking.

“It’s fast, it’s exciting, it’s a lot of different information,” he said. “But it makes you want to thrive because the program and the people are all so passionate.”

Once he earns his degree, Key has plans to become a personal chef, own a food truck, cater, teach cooking, and create cooking video tutorials.

Key hopes other students find their passion and follow their dream.

“Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back,” he said.

This story was reported by Beth McKenna.

Happy (Belated) Random Acts of Kindness Day

Did you know that being nice can make you healthier AND happier?

This article, Random Acts of Kindness Day 2023: The health benefits of a simple act, talks about the benefits of being a “RAKtivist!”

We know that GRCC employees are the kindest folks there is! So get out there and spread some Raider love! 

This friendly (and kind) public service announcement is brought to you by the Employee Wellness Team. 

GRCC In the News 02/21/2023

Community Updates: Friday, February 17

2/17/23 The Rapidian

… The City of Grand Rapids, in partnership with Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), has announced that there will be two ‘Water Pool-ooza’ events coming up at the end of February and the beginning of March. With support from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), interested students in the fourth through twelfth grades (and their families) can attend these events to learn more about the water system and possible careers within it.

Jimmy Carter has been longtime LGBTQ ally

2/19/23 Q Voice News

Former President Jimmy Carter, a long-time ally of the LGBTQ community, will begin receiving hospice care, according to a statement from The Carter Center on Saturday.

… A deeply religious man, Carter was asked about LGBTQ rights during an appearance at Michigan’s Grand Rapids Community College in 2014.

“I never knew of any word or action of Jesus Christ that discriminated against anyone,” Carter said.

Black History Month: WHIO celebrates all who have pushed our nation forward

2/20/23 WHIO

Every February, Black History Month gives us the opportunity to learn about the rich and, oftentimes, forgotten pieces of American history.

… Eddie Davis Jr.

… Earned his associate degree at Grand Rapids Community College, bachelor’s at Capital University, and master’s in Educational Leadership at Wright State University.

Cedric Ward: the co-founder of the Giants Awards and Symphony of Soul

2/21/23 95.7 FM

All month long, the Grand Rapids Historical Society and I will be sharing Black History facts that have taken place right here in Grand Rapids.

… He was honored by the Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids for his leadership and received the Dr. MaLinda P. Sapp Legacy Award posthumously from the Grand Rapids Symphony. Today, The Cedric and Sandy Ward Leadership Award goes annually to a Grand Rapids Community College student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills throughout the community or at GRCC.

Change-Ups: Gallagher joins Kentwood as deputy administrator

2/17/23 Grand Rapids Business Journal


Kathryn K. Mullins has been selected as Big Rapids-based Ferris State University’s vice president for University Advancement and Marketing. As Grand Rapids Community College’s vice president for College Advancement and executive director of the GRCC Foundation, Mullins has worked with community partners and donors to double the amount of money available for scholarships and generated resources to transform and modernize facilities throughout the campus. 

Now Open: GRCC Online Store

The GRCC Online Store is open once again!

We are actively stocking our shelves with all kinds of great equipment. The Online Store sells replaced computer equipment and more back to the community at hugely discounted pricing.

Head to the link below to see what’s in stock.

New walk-in store area opening Feb. 22!

The Online Store now has a store front located on Devos Campus, Sneden Hall, Room 115. We will be doing a soft opening for all GRCC students and employees on Feb. 22, 2023. The store will be open from 12pm-5pm.

Come shop in person or just stop in to say hello.

FERPA focused employee learning opportunity

Join GRCC registrar, Valerie Butterfield, as she leads a session entitled “Student Records and Privacy” which explores how FERPA works and the implications here at GRCC.

If you serve students at GRCC, this is an opportunity for you to learn how to protect information while delivering great customer service.

In person on Tuesday, February 28 from 3 to 4 p.m. in room 108 RJF.

Register for this and several other learning opportunities through your Online Center account.