GRCC announces 2014 Armen Awards winners



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications


April 25, 2014 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Projects to create age-appropriate biology lessons for schoolchildren, assist Gilda’s Club with LaughFest, and support those who work with cancer patients and survivors were named winners in Grand Rapids Community College’s 2014 Armen Awards.

Longtime GRCC supporter Armen Oumedian created and funds the awards, now in their fourth year, as part of his commitment to innovative thinking, a passion that has already led him to create several scholarships. He also served as co-chairman of the alumni division of the Grand Rapids Community College Foundation’s recent Open Door Campaign.

“I was so pleased at last year’s results that I recommitted for another three years," said Oumedian, who retired as senior vice president of Pinnacle Automation. "Rewarding teams who demonstrate innovative teaching and learning practices is key to student success.”

The top three projects, receiving $3,000, $1,500 and $750 in cash prizes, were:

First place went to Sarah Krajewski and students in her Biology 101 for Elementary Educators class. The GRCC students created lesson plans — on owls, the life cycle of a bean plant and DNA — for early elementary and middle school children at Immaculate Heart of Mary School.

Second place went to Bethann Talsma and students in her Office Ethics and Etiquette course. They worked with Gilda’s Club to support the overall operations of LaughFest’s central office.

Third place went to Jolanta Lanier and students in her Personal Health course. They teamed up with the American Cancer Society, working with those who support cancer patients and survivors.

The other finalists were:

  • Hope Hagan and her Business and Technical Writing course, which partnered with Covenant House.
  • Aleta Anderson and her Introductory German course, which worked with Palmer Elementary School.
  • Dr. Sherry Knoppers and her Community Transcultural Nursing course, which partnered with South End Community Outreach Ministry.
  • Gayl Beals and his Automotive Job Training course, which worked with Mel Trotter Ministries.

In addition to the projects’ impact, judges looked at the teams’ ability to design and implement a service learning project and to work collaboratively.

“It was very difficult to pick the top three winners, as each of them were so rewarding in their own right,” said Chris Wilson, an independent nonprofit consultant who served as a judge. “It was evident that all of them were well thought out in terms of the planning and execution. I was so impressed with GRCC faculty and students — GRCC should be very proud.”

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.