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GRCC Awards Inspirational Women - Individuals recognized at 14th annual Salute to Women 2012

GRCC has announced the four honorees in their 2012 Salute to Women, a celebration held annually during Women’s History Month. GRCC will recognize four women including a former Air Force pilot, a courageous student, an innovative professor and a life-long worker.  The reception will take place March 27 starting at 1:30 p.m. in GRCC’s Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center.

The women to be recognized are GRCC alumna Jane Doyle, Professor Nancy Forrest, student Tonja Lofton, and former employee Julie Johnson.

Doyle was a GRJC student who went on to become a member of the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASP).  One of Doyle’s duties as a WASP was to take planes out for test flights after they had been serviced for problems reported by male pilots. Thirty-eight WASP members gave their lives for the war effort.  Doyle was present in March of 2010 when the WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their considerable contribution to the military.

GRCC’s 2012 student award honoree defied the odds as a young adult after following a serious health condition that left her with few memories and no ability to read or write.   With the help of Literacy Council tutors and through her own courage and tenacity, Tonja Lofton fought to piece her life and her ability to communicate back together.   Today, Lofton is GRCC Student Congress president, and serves as Michigan Service Scholar committing at least 300 hours annually to community service.

Forrest, a GRCC math professor, will be honored for her teaching style which is described as “taking the stress out of math for her students.”  She has taught trigonometry and calculus for over 20 years and she said her philosophy is to make math fun rather than scary.  “I want to deliver the curriculum using different media.  A classroom can be inviting and satisfying and does not need to be intimidating,” she said

GRCC also chose to recognize former employee Johnson after she retired from GRCC in 1996.  However, she  lasted only 6 weeks after retirement before starting work with Dwelling Place as a client advocate.

Johnson has assisted a number of individuals and families find their way from the streets and missions into homes to call their own in her current job at Dwelling Place, a local organization that provides housing and supportive services to over 1,000 residents. 

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 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 additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.