Director of Communications
April 30, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Among the standout members of Grand Rapids Community College’s Class of 2013 is an Army veteran who tutors his fellow students in five subjects and started his post-secondary studies online while serving overseas.
Kentwood resident Brent Folsom was named GRCC’s Biology Student of the Year, but it was just his most recent accolade. His other academic achievements include selection to participate in the GRCC/Hope College Research program, and receiving a 2012 SSSP Grant, the 2012 Michael Flanagan Memorial Scholarship, the 2012 Anne Miller Health Related Studies Award and the 2012 Hansen Environmental Activities Scholarship. He also has been on the Grand Rapids Community College President’s List from Fall 2011 to the present and has a 4.0 grade point average.
He is a volunteer mentor to City High Middle School’s Science Club and tutors GRCC students in math, biology, chemistry, English and economics.
Mr. Folsom will participate in GRCC’s commencement on May 3 wearing the Delta Pi Alpha medallion – awarded to those students graduating with superior scholastic achievement from the top 5 percent of their graduating class.
“When you have talent, when you have experience, when you have expertise, it’s our goal and our joy to share that with people in the community, and that’s what he’s done,” Dr. Greg Forbes, of the Biological Sciences department, said of Mr. Folsom at GRCC’s recent Student Leadership Banquet.
Mr. Folsom served in the Army as an operations sergeant and infantry team leader from 2003 to 2008, supervising training for 200 soldiers and leading them in combat missions. He received the Army Commendation Medal (2006 and 2008), Army Achievement Medal (2007) and Good Conduct Medal (2007).
After leaving the military, he worked as a corrections officer in Montcalm County from 2008 to 2011.
Since attending GRCC, he has become a Certified Level II Pharmacy Technician and is now an analytical services intern at Corium International Inc.
Mr. Folsom plans to pursue degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology at Hope College this fall. From there, he plans to apply for medical school.
“After my time in the Army was complete, I came back to Michigan and took a job as a deputy sheriff,” he said. "While it was a decent job, I came to the conclusion that my desire to continue my education was still present and strong. I knew that my position as a deputy was not something that I wanted to do as my lifelong career, so I resigned and made the first important step of the rest of my life by returning to school at GRCC.
“My experience as a student at GRCC has been great; I feel I have received a quality education from qualified faculty. I was challenged but supported at the same time.”
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.