Press release: Donor awards innovative experiential learning that impacts community

Kathy Mullins
Executive Deputy to the President and Board Liaison

April 3, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — During the April 26 Armen Awards Celebration and networking event, community organizations, students and faculty will come together to experience the innovative service learning practices that have made meaningful contributions to our community this winter semester.

There will also be a very large check presentation: first prize is $3,000; second prize is $1,500 and third prize is $750.

Finalists for Grand Rapids Community College’s annual Armen Awards will share what they’ve learned, from the community service projects they designed and carried out all semester, through powerful video presentations and interviews. Teams consist of at least one faculty member, one community partner and up to three GRCC students – operating within the parameters of a GRCC course.

The finalists and their projects are:
• The Child Psychology course with Family Promise providing child-care services to homeless families seeking respite or time to seek employment.
• The Community Transcultural Nursing course with the American Red Cross teaching GRCC students the life-changing skill of CPR.
• The Community Dental Health course with the Salvation Army-Booth Family Services providing oral hygiene education to pregnant teens and teen mothers.
• The College Writing course with the Grand Rapids Public Library administering the One Book, One City for Kids program in GRPS.
• The Consulting with Writers course with GRCC’s Writing Lab training students to serve as tutors.
• The Community Transcultural Nursing course with the North End Community Ministry educating its food pantry clients on healthy meal planning and recipes.
• The Principles of Physical Education course with GRPS East Leonard Elementary administering the Organ Wise Guys program to help children develop a healthy lifestyle.
• The Mobile Device Security and Development course with the Collegiate newspaper creating a mobile app to increase access and readership.

Longtime GRCC supporter Armen Oumedian created and funds the Armen Awards as part of his commitment to innovative practices. His goal has always been to inspire and challenge employees and students, but this year’s focus on service strikes a special chord for him because of the projects’ concrete impact on the community.

“It has been exciting to see the hard work and creativity these teams have demonstrated in reaching out to meet very real needs in our community,” said Mr. Oumedian, who retired as a part-owner of Pinnacle Automation and served as co-chairman of the alumni division of the Grand Rapids Community College Foundation’s recent Open Door Campaign. “Each one of these eight projects has touched lives.”

The projects will be scored on how they strengthen critical thinking and a sense of personal responsibility in students while meeting a community organization’s goals. The projects’ impact, and how the work will be sustained over time, will also be measured.

Judges with expertise in the field of nonprofit management, civic engagement, innovation, and pedagogy will select the winners.

Judging the awards are:

  • Matt Downey, Program Director, Nonprofit Services at Johnson Center of Philanthropy.
  • Chris Wilson, Founder/Executive Director at NonProfit Process Excellence.
  • Katie Daniels, Curriculum Specialist at Grand Rapids Community College.
  • Nicole Notario-Risk, Nonprofit/Foundation Consultant, Owner of Dress My Rescue.
  • Renee Zientek, Executive Director at Michigan Campus Compact.

The Armen Awards Celebration will take place from 3-5 p.m. April 26 in room 217 of the Kendall College of Art and Design/Ferris State University Federal Building, 148 Ionia Ave.  Students, employees and the community are welcome to attend. RSVP at

In addition to Mr. Oumedian, the program will feature GRCC Provost Dr. Gilda Gely, Dr. Jeremy Osborn, director of GRCC’s Center for Teaching Excellence, and Mike Schavey, director of Experiential Learning.

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.