GRCC In the News 02/03/2023

An inspirational friendship

2/2/23 Community College Daily (American Association of Community Colleges)

Shawn Cheshire rode across the country on her bicycle, depending on Jesse Crandall, a chemistry professor at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), to guide her every bit of the two-month, 3,700-mile trek.

Grand Rapids Pride Center director to give keynote speech at Black History Month event

2/3/23 MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Jazz McKinney, the executive director of the Grand Rapids Pride Center, is the keynote speaker this year for Grand Rapids Community College’s Black History Month celebration.

Things to do in Grand Rapids this weekend!

2/2/23 Grand Rapids Magazine

A vast array of activities to help beat the winter blues are happening around the area this weekend. Try your hand at Snow Snake for a chance to win $500, register to win free boba drinks for a year at a new eatery, or have  your photograph taken with a princess, there’s a lot to do. The fun begins tonight with opening night of a play!

#1. Attend “The Creation of the World and Other Business!” Feb. 2, 4 & 5,
a play by Arthur Miller, at GRCC Spectrum Theatre, 160 Fountain St NE.
Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids presents “The Creation of the World and Other Business.” This three-act play by Arthur Miller puts a satirical and philosophical spin on the epic creation myth in a twisted retelling of our origin story. God wants Adam and Eve to procreate, but doesn’t know how to move the process along. Onto the scene comes Lucifer, who thinks he has the solution. 

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. 

HR is conducting a poll for interest in Weight Watchers at GRCC

HR is exploring the possibility of GRCC being a community WW site — providing space for a weigh in location and in person WW staff led workshops.

We’re curious how many GRCC employees would take advantage of this. This would be somewhat different than WW at work has been in the past. 

Please respond to this short poll to indicate your interest.

Thank you! We’ll keep you posted.

Volunteers needed for the GIANT Awards 40th Anniversary Celebration

The event will be at the DeVos Place (303 Monroe Ave NW) on Saturday, February 25th. 

Are you available during the evening of Saturday, February 25 from 4 p.m.- 9 p.m.? Would you like to assist in making this event a success?  Yes? Then volunteer!  

Volunteers will be provided with dinner and positions will be assigned.  

Contact Mary Reed at 3930 or to sign up. 

Volunteers needed for the GIANT Awards 40th Anniversary Celebration

The event will be at the DeVos Place (303 Monroe Ave NW) on Saturday, February 25th. 

Are you available during the evening of Saturday, February 25 from 4 p.m.- 9 p.m.? Would you like to assist in making this event a success?  Yes? Then volunteer!  

Volunteers will be provided with dinner and positions will be assigned.  

Contact Mary Reed at 3930 or to sign up. 

My GRCC Story: Lizzy Hornack shares her journey from England to becoming GRCC’s first women’s soccer coach

Lizzy Hornack smiling.

The passion for soccer runs deep in Lizzy Hornack’s family.

“I played it all my life! It’s the only sport I know. It’s the only sport I did.”

Hornack is the coach of Grand Rapids Community College’s first women’s soccer team, which will take the field in fall 2023, along with a men’s team coached by Damiekco Smith.

Hornack appeared on the My GRCC podcast to talk about her journey from growing up in Manchester, England to becoming a two-time collegiate All-American to building a program from scratch.

She was introduced to the sport, called football in the rest of the world, by her brother and father.

“I have an older brother. He’s 18 months older than I was,” she said. “I was pretty much just following his footsteps. He wanted to play football, so I wanted to play football. He joined a boys’ team, so I joined a boys’ team. It’s been a thing since I was four. Whatever he did, I did. My dad played and he coached us.”

She came to the United States in 2010 to play with Davenport University, earning All-American honors in 2010 and 2013. She is atop Davenport’s leaderboard in nine categories, including points, with 131; goals, 55; and game-winning goals, 14.

She has been coaching at the collegiate and youth level since graduating with has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a master’s degree in Human Resource Management, and was thrilled when she learned GRCC started a program.

 “When the athletic director, Lauren Ferullo, said, ‘Hey, I have a women’s soccer program,’ I was, like, ‘Love it! It’s got my name on it!’ and we went from there.”

With the addition of both soccer programs, GRCC now offers 10 athletic programs, including men’s and women’s cross country, golf, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and softball.

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

Sally Merrill matches her career-high 27 points to lead GRCC women’s basketball team to victory over Delta College

Sally Merrill  shooting a basket.

Sally Merrill matched her career-high of 27 points to lead the Grand Rapids Community College women’s basketball team to a gritty, 71-61 win at Delta College.

The men’s team snapped a three-game winning streak, losing in overtime 91-81.

GRCC’s women’s team jumped out to a 23-7 first quarter lead and seemed to be in control.  But the Pioneers fought back from a 22-point deficit to make it just a three-point game with just 30 seconds remaining. 

Delta was forced to foul and it nearly worked out to perfection. But after GRCC missed both free throws, Delta called a time out it didn’t have, resulting in a technical foul.

Merrill knocked down both technical free throws to seal the victory for GRCC, which has won two in a row and improved to 10-6 overall, and 4-2 in the conference.

Head coach David Glazier was extremely proud of the way his players executed the game plan and was happy to see their hard work pay off in a big game.

“Can’t say enough about how this group battles together in the high and low moments throughout a game,” Glazier said.

Merrill added seven rebounds and a career-high six steals, playing in all 40 minutes.

Allison Kellogg and Grace Lodes both nearly had double-doubles with 12 points, nine rebounds for Kellogg and 11 points, eight rebounds for Lodes.

The men’s game was within three points nearly the entire game and each team had a chance to win in regulation. But GRCC missed a free throw and Delta’s three-point attempt was blocked as time expired.

In the extra session GRCC was out-scored 16-6, and falls to 14-5 overall and 3-3 in the conference after the loss.

“It’s really hard to win on the road in this league, and it’s even harder when you don’t make free throws down the stretch,” head coach Joe Fox said. “It’s always tough to lose games you have a chance to win, especially on the road. We just have to pick ourselves up and be ready for Saturday.”

Saginaw native Danyel Bibbs put up some big stats in his return home, scoring a team-high 22 points, grabbing a team-high nine rebounds and led the team in assists and steals with five and four.

Bashir Neely totaled 16 points and Brockton Kohler and Herman Brown added 14 and 11.

Both teams will be back at home on Feb. 4 to take on North Central College.  The women will tip-off first at 1 p.m.   

GRCC In the News 02/02/2023

40th anniversary of GIANT Awards will salute decades of Black leadership in Grand Rapids

2/1/23 MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – This year is the 40th anniversary of the esteemed annual GIANT Awards, and Grand Rapids Community College is hosting a special celebration to salute the decades of Black leaders who have contributed to the city of Grand Rapids.

Holland Christian pitcher Trevor Nagelkirk signs with GRCC

2/1/23 The Holland Sentinel

HOLLAND – Trevor Nagelkirk just wants to get better.

… He will get a chance to continue his career and improve some more next year. He signed a natinal letter of intent to play baseball at Grand Rapids Community College.

Leading the band, on field and off

2/1/23 School News Network (Kent Intermediate School District)

Godwin Heights — Carlos Soto-Castillo’s interest in the saxophone started with a YouTube video.

… Because his dad works in construction, he quickly discovered it as a potential career. Carlos plans to head into construction management by first attending Grand Rapids Community College and then on to Ferris State University.

Grant expands GRAAHI’s power to eliminate health disparities

1/30/23 Rapid Growth Media

Thanks to a $1 million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant awarded by Kent County, the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute (GRAAHI) will expand and enhance programming aimed at reducing health disparities within the county’s BIPOC communities. Founded in 2002 in reaction to a Kent County Health Department community needs assessment, the grassroots organization has leveraged community input and collaborations with other organizations to address disturbing racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality, diabetes, access to mental and medical health care and more.

… The grant will also expand GRAAHI’s Pathways to Healthcare Careers program, which seeks to increase underrepresented students in health care professions.
Launched in Grand Rapids Public Schools in fall 2022 at Stocking Elementary and UPrep Middle and High Schools, Pathways connects educators, healthcare professionals, academic tutors and mentors with students during after-school sessions. Additional Pathways pilot programs are being developed with Grand Rapids Community College, Davenport University, Ferris State University, Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University as well as with three Grand Rapids area hospitals — Spectrum Health Butterworth, Trinity Health Saint Mary’s and University of Michigan Health-West.

HR is conducting a poll for interest in Weight Watchers at GRCC

HR is exploring the possibility of GRCC being a community WW site — providing space for a weigh in location and in person WW staff led workshops.

We’re curious how many GRCC employees would take advantage of this. This would be somewhat different than WW at work has been in the past. 

Please respond to this short poll to indicate your interest.

Thank you! We’ll keep you posted.

February employee learning opportunities

Register via the Professional Development tile in your Online Center account.

Thursday, February 2
Supervisor Technology Course

Wednesday, February 8
Building Healthy Team Culture

Thursday, February 9
Where Do I Go For What I Want To Know?

Monday, February 13
Navigating Challenging Situations

Wednesday, February 15
How To Get It Wrong

Thursday, February 16
Intro To Peoplesoft

Tuesday, February 21
Formula for Success – Google Sheets

Thursday, February 23
25Live Pro Training

Friday, February 24
Mindfulness Made Simple

Tuesday, February 28
Student Records & Privacy

February 6, 2023 Economic Club of Grand Rapids opportunity for GRCC students

The Economic Club of Grand Rapids has gifted us with the opportunity to have GRCC students participate in an upcoming luncheon FOR FREE.

The next event is with Governor Gretchen Whitmer (“Building a Brighter Future”) on February 6. 

Limited seats are available so please complete this google form and get more information here:

Grand Rapids Pride Center director Jazz McKinney to serve as keynote speaker for GRCC Black History Month celebration

Grand Rapids Pride Center director Jazz McKinney smiling.

Jazz McKinney, the executive director of the Grand Rapids Pride Center, will deliver a keynote address as part of the Grand Rapids Community College Black History Month celebration.

GRCC’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion worked with campus partners to create a month of events.

“Black History Month is a time for us as a campus and community to come together and remember, reflect and celebrate,” said David Selmon, GRCC’s dean of Strategic Outreach and interim director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “The team has created a slate of events that are fun and informative, and might challenge people to see things differently.”

McKinney is planned to speak at 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 in GRCC’s Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center Auditorium, 151 Fountain Street NE.

McKinney is a Black, Indigenous Two-Spirit individual who has been involved in the mental health field for more than 10 years and with racial justice work as well as advocacy/activism in the 2-SLGBTQ+ community for more than 18 years, committing themselves to highlighting the importance of education, awareness, and involvement to create change.

McKinney is co-owner and lead trainer of Paradigm Shifts Consulting in addition to being executive director of the Grand Rapids Pride Center.

The Detroit native is passionate about working to decolonize gender roles and identities as well as discussing the impact harmful gender binaries can cause within communities. 

Other events include:

  • Black History Month Trivia, with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The event is planned for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 2 in Student Center, 122 Lyon Street, NE room 234.
  • “A Black Woman’s Survival Kit,” a virtual event hosted by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion set for 4-6 p.m. on Feb. 14.
  • Silent Disco, presented by the Campus Activity Board with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The event is planned for 4-6 p.m. on Feb. 16 in the Raider Grill in the Student Center.
  • “The Black Male Narrative,” a virtual event hosted by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, planned for 4-5:30 on Feb. 21.
  • “Real Talk Student Round Table,” planned for 4-5:30 p.m. on Feb. 23 in room 205 of the Student Center and offered virtually as well.

Registration for all of the events is available here. 

Recap of January Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) Meeting

GRCC’s Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) met on Friday, January 27th, from 9 a.m.-Noon.  Here is a recap of the meeting.

SLT Operations – Team members heard an update on the following:

  1. The updated SLT Bylaws are now posted on the Strategic Leadership Team website.
  2. SLT Exec is working with Vicki Janowiak, Chair of the SLT Subcommittee to Fund Action Projects, to update the SLT Funding Request Form and Process.  The Subcommittee is also in need of new members.  If you are interested in serving on the subcommittee, including as its Chair, please contact Vicki.
  3. SLT Exec continues to collaborate with our Strategic Goal Co-Leads to support existing Strategic Initiatives (SIs) and College Action Projects (CAPs).  In addition, there is a new form that any GRCC stakeholder can complete to propose a new SI and/or CAP. 

GRCC Admissions and Recruitment Presentation:

In an effort to focus on one of our 2022-25 Strategic Plan Framework’s overarching principles, Enrollment is a focus for all GRCC stakeholders, attendees heard a presentation from Lori Cook, Francisco Ramirez, and Jason Schueller, about current admissions and recruitment efforts.  The presentation included information from the popular “Recruit your Barista!” professional development session.  Please see here for a copy of the presentation slides and here for a brief video featured in the presentation about why our students love GRCC!  Also, stay tuned for additional opportunities to attend a Recruit your Barista! workshop.

The Finish Line Game:

Attendees participated in a facilitated game session, focusing on another of our Strategic Plan Framework’s overarching principles, Equity encompasses all 5 goals.  The game provided a closer look into the everyday experiences of community college students, followed by a discussion.  Members are invited to complete this form to continue the conversation.

Closing Remarks – The following announcements were shared at the close of the meeting: 

  1. The annual department plan and budget, IT, and space request overview training will be held on Wednesday, February 1, from 2 to 3 p.m. in the ATC auditorium (room 168).  A virtual attendance option is also available.  This overview covers the non-academic department plan process and is intended for new Budget Control Officers (BCOs) or anyone who wishes to have a refresher on these processes.
  2. We are organizing a campus read featuring The Great Upheaval: Higher Education’s Past, Present, and Uncertain Future by Arthur Levine and Scott Van Pelt.  Please review and submit this interest form to learn more!

Meeting link:

If you were unable to attend the meeting and would like to watch the recording, please click here.  You can also view the SLT January 27th presentation slides here.

Next Steps

Friday’s SLT events also included another meeting with the new Strategic Goal leads.  If you are interested in volunteering to serve on any of the potential Strategic Initiatives (SIs) and/or College Action Projects (CAPs) aligned with the five Strategic Goals, please let the SLT Executive Team know by sending an email to

Please contact Sheila Jones,, if you have any questions about SLT meetings or how you can get involved with SLT initiatives.

About the Strategic Leadership Team: The purpose of the Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) is to provide a forum that enables a wide variety of college constituency groups the opportunity to provide input into the present and future direction of the College.  This team will guide the development and on-going implementation of our strategic plan, review benchmarking data, study budget realities and offer recommendations for budget priorities.  SLT’s membership includes over 90 representatives of the college community.  Please visit this page to learn more about SLT.

Retirement bio of Linda Witte

Linda Witte smiling.

For the entire fourteen years Linda has served GRCC, she worked as the Program Developer/Manager for Health in the Workforce Training Department.

One of Linda’s most memorable stories about the GRCC Students she serves was Bobbi.

“We were able to capture Bobbi’s story on video and it is posted on the Medical Assistant webpage. I encourage folks to watch what she had to say. Bobbi was a single mother and homeless when in our MA Program. She is successful today as a medical assistant working in a local health system. Here’s the You Tube link: Bobbi’s perseverance through the many obstacles she experienced is inspirational to me… and Bobbi is just one of many, many students who I’ve worked with that are overcoming obstacles to work for their success.”

Linda also enjoys when she is on practicum site visits and she sees previous program graduates now serving as preceptors to current students. She has also been able to hire a few program graduates to train the future workforce.

Linda was honored to have a significant role in the first Registered Apprenticeship of an accredited Medical Assistant Program in the nation, now healthcare apprenticeship program which continues to expand and thrive around the country.

Linda will greatly miss working with her trainers who inspire her. “They always step up to do what they can to support and care for each other”.

When Linda was featured in the GRCC Today series “Here to Help” she felt honored and valued by the College.

Linda will kick off her retirement by spending a month in Florida. After that, she is looking forward to spending more time with her husband Mark, her mom, her amazing children and her super-cute twin grandgirls.

Linda reflects on her GRCC career saying:

“It has been a privilege to represent GRCC to our health employer community and to prospective students. I’ve been proud to share GRCC’s mission to meet employer workforce needs and to help students on a career path in healthcare. I’m thankful for all the ways working at GRCC grew me as a professional and as a person. I will miss my colleagues, and I wish GRCC all the best in the future.”

Congratulations and enjoy the extra grandma time Linda!

Workforce Wednesday: Cory Stout uses Michigan Reconnect to gain in-demand welding skills and a new career

Cory Stout standing next to a toolbox, holding a welding helmet , and smiling

Cory Stout worked in the tool and die Industry for several years, but moved into a construction job when he hear rumors of layoffs.

Then, during the COVID shutdown, Stout was able to reflect and decide what comes next. He remembers being interested in the welding activities during his time in tool and die. He heard GRCC has a reputable welding program and checked into it.

“Once I looked at the program and the hands-on welding lab, I was excited to get started.”

Stout was connected to career coach Michael Wemmer, who turned him on to the Michigan Reconnect program.

“If you are willing to fill out the forms, there is support available. Michigan Reconnect has been a godsend.”

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 Job Training Welding program meets for 18-weeks, Monday through Thursday, for 34 hours per week and offers job placement assistance.

“The schedule of the program is great,” Stout said. “It’s set up just like a job.”

As a student, you learn: shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding oxy-fuel welding, cutting, brazing, blueprint reading, mathematics, metallurgy, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills.

The program is led by GRCC Instructor Nate Haney. Haney holds a Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering Technology from Ferris State University and is an American Welding Society Certified Welding Inspector and Certified Welding Educator.

“Nate is far and away the best teacher I’ve ever had,” Stout said. “Truly exceptional. He never says a negative thing. He will tell you the positive aspects of the weld and how to improve it, but he never uses the word ‘bad’. Every time you walk away from Nate, you feel confident that you can improve on what you are doing. That is something you don’t find anywhere. Anyone can pass on learned knowledge but to do it in a way that you want to learn is truly special.”

Stout believes the hands-on aspect is invaluable.

“There is no comparison between learning from a book and learning by doing. We started welding the second day of class!”

He also enjoyed the staggering of the class start dates.

“The class that started before me was really helpful and now I am helping the classes that started after me. We are all learning from each other. It’s been fun and very satisfying,” he said.

“There is so much new technology developing in the welding field. It’s not just old school welding- it’s lasers, micro welds, pulse welds, spray welding-avenues I never even knew existed! If I were to get a job and get training from my employer, I would never learn all the other types of welding that are out there.”

This program is highly regarded by employers as a top trainer in welding and fabrication. Job Developers are ready to help you with the job search process. Graduates will be ready to begin a career as a welder, cutter or brazer – with the skills to meet the needs of not only local companies but national companies as well.

Stout is looking at several different employment opportunities.

 “I have been working with Diego Roman, a job developer at the MTEC, but pretty much everyone has helped me somewhere along the way. Everyone seems to have connections in the industry and they are working really hard to help find the best fit.

“My family is super supportive and proud of me. I have had to make some sacrifices financially but it is totally worth it. This may be short-term training but there are definitely long-term benefits. The program gets you into the workforce in just over four months and, for me, without any debt.”

Stout has already finished the required work for the program and will graduate on Feb. 16.  

One Workforce grant has provided the careering coach and job develop support for Cory. The next section of Job Training programs begins, April 17, 2023. For more information: or 616-234-3800.