Press release: GRCC to award honorary degree to Noorthoek Academy student Melinda Frank


Kathy Mullins
Executive Deputy to the President and Board Liaison

April 11, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College is awarding an Honorary Associate of Arts Degree to a Noorthoek Academy student who shares her love of learning with others as a teacher’s aide at Temple Emanuel’s Religious School.

Melinda Frank is the fifth student from Noorthoek to receive an honorary degree in recognition of completing 42 concurrent semesters, earning nationally recognized Continuing Education Credits, and exhibiting a particular talent in the study of Autonomy. Noorthoek is a private organization that works in partnership with GRCC to provide a post-secondary, college experience in the arts and sciences for young people with special needs.

“Melinda Frank is a success story — not just for herself, but for our educational system, our government, and our community,” said Ms. Frank’s parents, Jeff and Sheila Frank.

An avid reader, Melinda Frank goes through stacks of books and follows world news and sports in the newspaper. Since 2003, she has worked for Pal’s Diner in Cascade Township. On Sunday mornings, she is a teacher’s aide at Temple Emanuel’s Religious School. Her parents say she loves working with the children and has formed close bonds with many of the other teachers.

“Melinda has been my aide in Sunday religious school for several years,” said Linda Zizos. "She instinctively knows when one of our students needs a bit of extra attention. Melinda greatly assists me in assessing the outcome of each lesson and what we need to change-up next time.

“She is one of the most perceptive individuals I have ever known, and her perspective on any topic we discuss is refreshingly honest. It is my good fortune to know Melinda Frank and to call her my friend.”

Ms. Frank’s early years were spent in special education programs in East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids, and Kentwood. She then attended the Kent Occupational High School before joining Noorthoek Academy. During that time, she has also advanced from living in a group home, to assisted apartment living, to her own apartment.

“I have a life!” she proudly states.

President Dr. Steven C. Ender will award the honorary degree to Ms. Frank during Grand Rapids Community College’s commencement on May 3.

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.