Finalists Announced For GRCC Armen Awards; Eight Service Learning Projects To Benefit The Community

November 28, 2012  GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – North End Community Ministry, Family Promise and East Leonard Elementary are among the eight West Michigan organizations that will benefit from service learning projects designed by  the finalists for Grand Rapids Community College’s annual Armen Awards.

The competition, designed to inspire innovation within best practices for teaching and learning, has a new format in its third year.  The 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.  During GRCC’s Winter 2013 semester contestants will design and complete service learning projects that fulfill course requirements while meeting a need in the community.

All eight projects will be completed by the end of the Winter 2013 semester, and the top three teams will receive a financial award - but the community will be the ultimate winner through GRCC’s continued efforts to find new ways to reach out to area residents.

Longtime GRCC supporter Armen Oumedian created and funds the awards as part of his commitment to innovative thinking, a passion that has already led him to create several scholarships. His goal has always been to inspire and challenge employees and students, but this year’s focus strikes a special chord for him because of the projects’ concrete impact on the community.

“This is a way to expose the important work already done by GRCC’s service learning program while continuing to expand its reach,” said Mr. Oumedian , who retired as senior vice president of Pinnacle Automation and served as co-chairman of the alumni division of the Grand Rapids Community College Foundation’s recent Open Door Campaign.

Michael Schavey, Associate Director of the Department of Experiential Learning, approached Mr. Oumedian with the idea of focusing on service learning and is directing the awards this year.

The finalists and their projects are:

  • The Mobile Device Security and Development course is partnering with the Collegiate newspaper to create a mobile app to increase access and readership.
  • The Child Psychology course is partnering with Family Promise to provide child-care services to homeless families seeking respite or time to seek employment.
  • The Community Transcultural Nursing course is partnering with the American Red Cross to teach GRCC students the life-changing skill of CPR.
  • The Community Dental Health course is partnering with the Salvation Army-Booth Family Services to provide oral hygiene education to pregnant teens and teen mothers.
  • The College Writing course is partnering with the Grand Rapids Public Library to administer the One Book, One City for Kids program in Grand Rapids Public Schools.
  • The Consulting with Writers course is partnering with GRCC's Writing Lab to train students to serve as tutors.
  • The Community Transcultural Nursing course is partnering with the North End Community Ministry to educate its clients on healthy meal planning and recipes when they select items from the food pantry.
  • The Principles of Physical Education course is partnering with East Leonard Elementary in the Grand Rapids school district to administer the Organ Wise Guys program, designed to help children develop a healthy lifestyle.

“I'm extremely happy with the number and quality of proposals that have been submitted,” Michael Schavey said in announcing the finalists. “There are a wide range of disciplines, including Psychology, Dental, Physical Education and English. “It's outstanding to know that through this event, faculty and students will understand the impact one makes when given the opportunity to apply their learning to benefit the community.”

Judges with expertise in the field of nonprofit management, civic engagement, innovation, and pedagogy will score each project not only on how they augment course content but also on how they strengthen critical thinking and a sense of personal responsibility in students while meeting a community organization’s goals. But just coming up with a great idea won’t be enough to win this competition -- teams must also demonstrate how the projects’ impact will be measured and on how their work will be sustained over time.

The Armen Awards Team, a group made up of GRCC faculty and staff, will present the awards at the end of April.  Membership includes: Ann Sandberg, Becky Yoder, Julie Lenger, Klaas Kwant, Leigh Kleinert, Malinda Powers, Moss Ingram, Steve Abid, Armen Oumedian, Michael Schavey.

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.