Category Archives: Alumni

GRCC In the News, 4-11-19

Mike Olson leaving law enforcement after 49 years

April 10, 2019; Battle Creek Enquirer

Mike Olson is leaving a 49-year law enforcement career he started after a night in a patrol car.

… Born in Kalamazoo and raised in several Michigan cities where his father was city manager, Olson had been attending Ferris State University and planning to teach and coach. But he wasn’t convinced that was what he wanted to do and returned to Grand Rapids Community College.

Meet Joel Newton: 2019 ABC Craft Professional of the Year Finalist

April 10, 2019; Construction Executive

As the second youngest of 14 siblings—three of whom are police officers—Joel Newton jokes about the struggle to stand out in his family. That shouldn’t be a problem this year. In addition to more than a decade of service in the U.S. Army Reserves, Newton has a new achievement his brothers and sisters undoubtedly will be proud of: being named a finalist for Associated Builders and Contractors’ Craft Professional of the Year award.

… Newton completed the ABC electrical apprenticeship program at Grand Rapids Community College and worked for two electrical contractors before joining Michigan-based Windemuller, Inc. in 2012. He’s now a journeyman electrician, foreman and detail manager—earning the role as a liaison between the field and office because of his willingness to help with any task.

Jayhawks baseball team improves to 25-7 with a twin bill sweep of Aquinas JV

April 10, 2019; Local Sports Journal (Muskegon)

The Muskegon Community College baseball team continued its strong season with a pair of victories over the Aquinas College JV squad on Wednesday.

… MCC, how 25-7 on the season, will host rival Grand Rapids Community College in a conference doubleheader on Friday, starting at 2 p.m.

GRCC In the News, 3-11-19

Grand Rapids Chamber pushing creative fields

March 8, 2019; Grand Rapids Business Journal

The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce is making a push to enhance creative fields locally.

… A Filipino transplant who graduated from the GRCC fashion program in 2015, (RC) Caylan has a studio in downtown Grand Rapids, at 80 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 308, where he is available by appointment for wedding dress design and other services. Though he said his prices are more reasonable, local women often shop from designers based elsewhere, perhaps because they don’t know he exists or because his name is not as widely known.

GRCC alumnus co-authors paper for Science magazine

GRCC alumnus Brian Maitner recently co-authored a paper in Science magazine on “Metabolic Asymmetry and the Global Diversity of Marine Predators.”

Maitner is finishing his Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology with Brian J. Enquist at the University of Arizona. His work focuses on community ecology, macroecology, ecoinformatics and biological invasions.

GRCC In the News, 2-12-19

Against all odds

Feb. 12, 2019; The Goshen News (Ind.)

GOSHEN — There was some risk involved intentionally fouling the opposing team with 23 seconds to go in a tie game, but Jon Tropf knew he wanted the final shot. Specifically, he wanted the ball in the hands of one man: Demarkus Stuckey. With a chance to beat the No. 1 team in NAIA, Tropf wanted to control his team’s destiny.

… Stuckey wound up enrolling at Grand Rapids Community College. He spent two years with the Raiders before transferring to King University in Bristol, Tennessee. After a year there, he transferred to Harris-Stowe State in St. Louis, Missouri. He didn’t play a game for the Hornets because of something he thought wouldn’t come back again.

Grand Rapids Community College honors local leader for her volunteering efforts

Feb. 11, 2019; WGVU

During Black History Month, Grand Rapids Community College honors influential leaders in the African American community at its annual Giants Awards program. Today we talk with one of these leaders on why she volunteers 30 plus hours per week to address equity in our community.

… (India) Manns will be 1 of 13 local leaders honored at the Giants Awards scheduled to take place on Saturday, February 23rd at Devos Place. Tickets can be found on the website of Grand Rapids Community College.

MCCC to participate in childhood education program

Feb. 11, 2019; The Monroe News

Monroe County Community College has been selected to participate in a $1.25 million Department of Education grant awarded to the University of Toledo for a project to enhance the quality of preparation for future early childhood education professionals.

… UT early childhood education faculty and colleagues at MCCC, Grand Rapids Community College, Mott Community College and a fourth program to be selected will work together on the project, which is titled Great Start for Higher Education.

Skirka returns to Racer baseball in head coaching role

Feb. 11, 2019; The Murray State News

With the 2019 baseball season right around the corner, many things will be different from the program last year, but the biggest change of all comes in the form of the newly hired Head Coach Dan Skirka.

… In his fifth year of college, Skirka continued his pursuit of education and coaching by helping coach a Grand Rapids Community College team to the NJCAA World Series. Skirka then got a graduate assistant position at Ouachita Baptist for a season before making his way to Murray State as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.

Five African American Women Who Have Shaped Our City

Feb. 8, 2019; Women’s Lifestyle magazine

As Grand Rapids celebrates Black History Month, we want to introduce you to five women who have played major roles in our city’s history with their outstanding achievements in the face of adversity.

Helen J. Claytor


Perhaps the most recognizable name on this list, Helen Claytor made history as the first black woman president of any YWCA in the country in 1949 when she was appointed the president of the Grand Rapids YWCA . She went on to become the first black woman president of the National YWCA, a position in which she served from 1967-1973. After retiring in 1974, she continued to work on behalf of civil rights and helped to found the city’s Equal Opportunity Office. A statue commemorating Claytor’s achievements and dedication to public service stands in Grand Rapids Community College’s Dr. Juan R. Olivarez Student Plaza. Read more about Claytor here.

… Hattie Beverly


The first African American teacher in Grand Rapids Public Schools, Hattie Beverly was certainly a woman to be admired. She graduated from Central High School in 1895 with an emphasis in Preparatory English. Later, in 1899 Beverly was hired to teach at Congress Elementary School. Each year at the Giants Awards and Banquet, the Hattie Beverly Education Award is given to an outstanding African American educator in the Grand Rapids area.

Condolences to family, friends of 2018 Distinguished Alumna Mildred ‘Jane’ (Baessler) Doyle

GRCC extends condolences to the family of Mildred “Jane” (Baessler) Doyle, a military aviation pioneer who was the college’s Distinguished Alumna of 2018.

Doyle, 97, died Friday.

“Jane Doyle said attending Grand Rapids Junior College in 1940 changed her ‘whole life’ — and what an amazing life it was,”  President Bill Pink said. “Jane was a military aviation pioneer, putting her life on the line to serve her country. Hers is a story of determination, bravery and sacrifice. We share our heartfelt condolences with her family, and she will continue to inspire GRCC students for years to come.”

Doyle was part of the elite Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. She and the other WASP aviators flew stateside missions for the military to free up male pilots for overseas combat.

Of the 25,000 volunteers, fewer than 2,000 were accepted into the WASP program and 1,078 of them graduated from training. They transported aircraft, equipment and personnel, and performed flight tests on planes that had undergone repairs. While they worked with the military, they were considered civilians. They had to cover the costs of their housing, travel and even their uniforms. If a pilot in the program died — and 38 did — her family paid the costs to transport the body home.

Doyle attended what was then Grand Rapids Junior College in 1940 and in a 2014 interview summed up her experience this way: “Junior college changed my whole life — my whole plan.”

She had intended to go into architecture because her brother wanted her to join him in his business. At that time, GRJC didn’t have an architecture program, but Doyle took engineering courses that would transfer to the University of Michigan. It was while she was in one of those engineering classes that the instructor made an announcement that caught her attention: GRJC President Arthur Andrews had received federal approval to run a Civilian Pilot Training program.

“They said they’d let one girl in for every nine fellows, so I had to pass a physical and I got into the flying program that summer,” Doyle said.

After completing the program, she transferred to U of M. She earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture and interior design in 1943 — while keeping up her flying time with the Civil Air Patrol.

After graduating, Doyle joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots.

“My family encouraged me in anything I wanted to try,” Doyle said in a 2007 interview for the Women Veterans Historical Project. “And my brother, at that time, was in the Navy, and my oldest sister was in the Red Cross in Texas. And so my family were very patriotic people, and they were proud to have us serve.”

After the WASP program was disbanded in December 1944, she worked with visually impaired children for a few years and then for Aquinas College, all the while raising her five children.

Doyle and the other WASP members received military veteran status in 1977. In 2010, she and the other surviving pilots were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. She was the last living WASP in Michigan, according to Texas Women’s University, home to the organization’s archives.

Doyle received the Distinguished Alumna Award during GRCC’s 2018 commencement, to the accompaniment of a standing ovation from the graduates.

Associate Provost Tina Hoxie worked with Doyle at Aquinas and called her a trailblazer.

“She accomplished so much in her life, and it was always enjoyable to reconnect with her,” Hoxie said. “I can still see the image of our students giving her a high five as she departed following her distinguished alumna recognition at commencement last year.”

GRCC In the News, 2-4-19

West Michigan woman who flew planes during World War II dies at 97

Feb. 1, 2019; MLive

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — A Grand Rapids woman who was a test pilot during World War II, part of a rare number of women flyers to play a critical role during the war, has died at age 97.

… Before she went to the University of Michigan, Doyle attended Grand Rapids Junior College — the institution now known as Grand Rapids Community College.

Inside Track: Using tragedy to help others

Feb. 1, 2019; Grand Rapids Business Journal

Gabriel Grant had just graduated high school with plans to attend Michigan State University when a car crash changed everything.
With dreams of becoming an athlete, he was set to start school at Grand Rapids Community College and transfer to MSU, with a promise of paid tuition from mentor and former MSU and professional basketball player Steve Smith.

Putnam: Grand Ledge classmates work to bring murder victim home for funeral

Feb. 4, 2019; Lansing State Journal

LANSING — A tight-knit group of friends from Eric Nelson’s school days in Grand Ledge is working to bring his body back home after the 28-year-old was shot to death in Las Vegas.

… Meaghan Jacobs said Nelson attended Grand Rapids Community College for a year and then Lansing Community College for a year along with her husband. The two friends roomed together.

College completes $8M upgrade of athletic facility

Jan. 29, 2019; Grand Rapids Business Journal

A local college has finished an $8-million project to renovate an athletic facility.

Grand Rapids Community Colleges upgraded Ford Fieldhouse, on the main campus at 111 Lyon St. NE, opened to the community last week.

WMCAT arts residency trains novice shutterbugs

Feb. 1, 2019; (Kent Intermediate School District newsletter)

Instructor Dennis Grantz reviewed some basic camera settings with a group of teens before turning them loose on a recent Friday morning inside the West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology’s spacious studio and project areas.

… Another group of students attend Grand Rapids Community College’s Leslie E. Tassell M-TEC program, and local business professionals also hold on-campus career sessions.

Grant aims to ready middle schoolers for what comes after high school

Jan. 25, 2019;

In Wyoming, seventh-graders mental gears were turning as they considered their futures. MacKenzie Burgess would like to be a marine biologist or a doctor.

… Lucky for them, no matter what their goals, local educators are joining forces to help students navigate where they want to go. Grand Rapids Community College is the recipient of a $2.1 million, six-year grant from the U.S. Education Department. The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)  initiative is beginning to take shape, serving Wyoming, Kelloggsville, Godwin Heights and Godfrey-Lee students.

Postponements and makeup dates for Grand Rapids-area college basketball teams

Jan. 30, 2019; MLive

Most of the small college basketball schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday has been wiped out for Grand Rapids-area teams. Here’s who postponed and when the games will be made up.


Grand Rapids Community College. The Raiders’ games at Kalamazoo Community College for Wednesday were postponed with makeup dates to be announced.

Katie Kalisz: A Quiet Woman’s Clarity

Jan. 29, 2019;

Local poet and GRCC professor Katie Kalisz will read from her just-released first book of poems, Quiet Woman, on February 21 at 6:30 pm, at the Grand Rapids Community College Library. The reading is free and open to the public.

New SingularityU chapter fosters “Exponential Technologies for Good”

Jan. 31, 2019;

Thanks to local futurist, Mary Brown, Singularity University (SU) is establishing a chapter in Grand Rapids, one of 142 chapters in 66 world locations recognized as up-and-coming technology centers. SU had been on Brown’s radar for some time. After attending its Global Summit, she submitted an application in hopes of starting a Grand Rapids chapter. Because Grand Rapids is recognized as an emerging center of innovation, the chapter application was approved.

… SingularityU Grand Rapids team members include Brown, the chapter ambassador, and Jan Mathorne, owner of HUCAPA – Human Capital Partners, an executive search consulting firm based in Denmark, Michigan, and California. Brown, a futurist, focuses on ethical adoption of AI in healthcare and society via human-centered design and organizational change and learning. A former senior digital experience analyst at Priority Health, she currently serves as senior consultant for learning and development in Spectrum Healths Inclusion and Diversity department and as adjunct faculty at Grand Rapids Community College in the psychology and business departments.

Change Ups: Spectrum Health appoints diversity officer

Feb. 1, 2019; Grand Rapids Business Journal


… The Right Place board of directors elected the following officers for 2019: chair: Sean P. Welsh, regional president, West Michigan, PNC Bank; vice chair: Mitch Joppich, Grand Rapids managing partner PwC LLP; and treasurer: Dave Staples, president and CEO, SpartanNash. Executive Committee Appointments: Bill Pink, president, Grand Rapids Community College; Matt Becker, managing partner, BDO; and Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO, Spectrum Health.

Grand Rapids residents deal with largest snow storm of the season

Jan. 28, 2019; FOX 17

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Residents in Grand Rapids dealt with nearly a foot of snow on Monday.

… “We’re trying to shovel our driveway, it’s a little tough,” said Lauren Jonker, a student at Grand Rapids Community College.

WMEAC Presents: Women, Community and the Environment Series

Feb. 1, 2019; Women’s Lifestyle magazine

Since 2011, women in West Michigan have come together to discuss and explore something about which they are all deeply passionate: environment advocacy.

… What: Thirst for Justice Film and Panel Discussion

When: Friday, Feb. 22, 7- 9 pm

Where: Grand Rapids Community College, 143 Bostwick Ave NE