My GRCC Story podcast: Melissa Gheorghiu shines in college after 20 years away

Melissa Gheorghiu graduated high school in 2000 and never attended college. She was a little nervous about starting at Grand Rapids Community College as a single mother of three children.

Flash forward a year, and Gheorghiu ahs been wildly successful. She was named to the All-Michigan Academic team, is a leader of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and worked a project to help fellow students and community members overcome obstacles to success.

“I have a friend who told me I should go to college,” Gheorghiu said on the My GRCC Story podcast. “I’m good with numbers, and he said I should go into finance. So, I decided to try it. GRCC is local, and it does stuff online, which I need to do since I’m a single mom.”

Gheorghiu completed GRCC’s Honors Program and is involved with the Psi Beta Honors Society for psychology students and TRIO Student Support Services, a program for first generation college students.

She has made the Dean’s List every semester since she enrolled. She is a chapter officer for Alpha Upsilon Kappa and serves on the PTK bylaws committee for the Michigan region.

Gheorghiu is a semifinalist for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship and received a GRCC Salute to Women award this year.

She will start a combined bachelor’s and master’s program in finance at the University of Michigan next fall.

“I honestly didn’t know what to expect,” she said of her decision to attend college after 20 years away.

“I knew in high school I did really well, but that was some time ago and now I have three small children. So, I juggle my children and my house and being a mom. But I put the time into all my studying and it’s really paid off. And I also reach out to any and all professors at the beginning of every semester to introduce myself and let them know who I am, that I’m an honors student and also a PTK officer, and tell them what I’m expecting.”

Gheorghiu said she took advantage of GRCC’s online opportunities so she could scheduled classes around her family responsibilities. She said GRCC tutoring labs were a great asset, and can be accessed remotely.

She encourages others who have been away to try taking courses.

“You don’t have to be a full-time student like I am,” she said. “You can do it part time. Last semester I took five classes, I completed an honors project, plus I did the capstone project and I’m an officer for PTK, so I come and do stuff on campus for that as well. And – I did it!”

Gheorghiu said she became interested in the Honors Program after getting an email saying she qualified on her high school grade point average. She was excited to learn about capstone projects, which include a community service component.

She worked with classmate and felloe nontraditional student Kim Budde on a clothing drive, which took place in November.

“I knew exactly what she wanted to do,” she said. “I have three children who are constantly growing, and clothing can be very expensive. I always have giant piles of clothing in my house that need to be donated, and I knew other people could benefit from it.”

The students collected enough clothing to fill 12 eight-foot-long tables, and shared leftovers with local shelters.

The My GRCC Story podcast is available here, Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other hosting sites.

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