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Salute to Women

Salute to Women honors four women within the college's community for personal and professional excellence and for serving as role models and mentors to other women. This is awarded annually during March, Women's History Month.

Celebrate a GRCC woman! Have someone you admire join the women who have been honored through Salute to Women since 1999. Recognition of the award recipients is part of Women’s History Month and is celebrated through a formal reception on March 29, 2016.  The nomination form link can be found to your right.


2015 Salute to Women Recipients


GRCC Employee

Information and Literacy Outreach Librarian

A Woman of Optimism and Commitment

Nan Schichtel credits others for who she is and where she is today. “I have learned from so many generous mentors throughout my career. These mentors encouraged my growth and lead me to discover new facets of myself that I might otherwise not have realized.” Nan particularly recalls the years she was closely associated with the local Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees). She continues to serve as the Jaycees’ historian to this day. The Chamber was a large and influential organization in West Michigan designed to promote leadership through community service. Nan recalls how many local business women contributed to her learning as they modeled female leadership. The opportunities to organize events, manage a non-profit and design programming was intensely developmental. “I returned to school for my second advanced degree in Public Administration as a direct result of those experiences.”

As a librarian, Nan has been witness to many changes within her profession. From an early age Nan wanted to be a librarian. She told her mother after the first day of first grade how disappointed she was that “they hadn’t taught her to read yet!” While she remains intrigued by some of the more traditional aspects of library science she relishes the teaching that is a core activity today. “We have an incredible group of librarians; we are supportive of each other and share the increasing responsibilities.”

Nan admits to being a consummate volunteer serving as a Board Member for the Grand Rapids Historical Society, a volunteer of the Grand Rapids Public Library and many other community groups. One such association led to her compiling, editing and publishing in 2013, Their Faith Lives On: St. Mary’s Visitation Parish Histories.

One narrative reads, “Nan believes in the goodness of people and believes strongly in their ability to learn. Her willingness to listen and her commitment to clear communication results in learning opportunities for all segments of our community.


Former GRCC Employee

Director, Occupational Therapy Assisting (retired)

A Woman of Vision and Concern

As an Occupational Therapist working with Ottawa Hills students in the 1970’s, Pat McClellan recognized a need. The aid working with her in the program was not appreciated or compensated at a level commensurate with her work or her talents. Pat decided that the community needed an Occupational Therapy Assistant program and she made it happen. Because of her foresight and dedication, close to 700 hundred students have completed the GRCC program and contributed to their own lives and the lives of countless others. One nominating narrative reads, “The curriculum was designed to meet the health care needs of clients and facilities in West Michigan. It continues to expand to meet the ever changing needs in the area.”  Pat directed the program from its inception in 1979, guiding it toward accreditation in 1981. In 1986 she felt the pull to return to clinical work.  “I had worked with the program from scratch and it was exciting but I truly missed and loved the direct care,” she recalls.

Pat remembers that when she began college at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York before discovering the discipline of Occupational Therapy, “Women were just coming into their own; we had to show what we could accomplish.” After two years at Cornell she transferred to Western Michigan University (WMU) as it held a highly regarded Occupational Therapist curriculum, one of few in the country. Her family was supportive and understanding as her master’s program at WMU required field work that included work in Chicago.

Pat never really retired as she moved from GRCC to Thresholds, a Kent County non-profit agency serving county residents with developmental disabilities. “We were always looking for the potential and possibilities for people, whether to support parents, families or individuals.” The Franciscan Life Process Center in Lowell, MI became the next organization to benefit from Pat’s dedication. She became the volunteer coordinator some 23 years ago and remains so today.


GRCC Student -Biomedical Sciences Major

A Woman of Compassion and Promise

Arielle Brown wants to be an Orthodontist. She says she has been pulling teeth since she was 5. “I don’t know how it started exactly but my family and neighborhood kids would seek me out when they needed a tooth pulled. I guess I had a smooth and painless technique,” she laughs. A Detroit native, Arielle is graduating from GRCC this May. She will transfer into a bioscience or biomedical pre-dentistry curriculum.

In addition to completing her associate’s degree, Arielle steeps herself in service to the College and her fellow students. Her campus activities and commitments are lengthy. Currently, she is Student Alliance President, Communications Director for both Women’s Issues Now and College Democrats and serves on the Campus Activities Board. She is currently working as a student employee in the Counseling and Career Center.

Supporting nominating narratives read, “She is a confident, self-aware and strong woman, who has been able to seek and receive input and advice about her growth areas.” ”Her strength is in her perseverance. Her enthusiasm for GRCC always comes through and is infectious.”

Arielle herself says that she had both her mother and grandmother as models of giving and caring for others. She says, “This is what I was meant to do; to be an advocate for people. I do what I do because I love it. I want everyone’s encounter with me to be beneficial, through new resources being shared or someone feeling less stress.”

Arielle attended three other colleges prior to GRCC and credits GRCC with helping her to think critically, to realize that things are rarely simple and that “you must dig deeper. This is the best experience for me, the people, administrators, faculty, staff and students are part of my family. It is a good year to be a Raider.”



GRCC Alumna

Director of Global Corporate Relations, Steelcase, Inc.

A Woman of Service and Leadership

Deb Bailey has truly come full circle, from a student at Grand Rapids Community College to an elected GRCC Board of Trustees member. The sense of belonging that she remembers GRCC offering to her as a college student has stayed with her through her life. She now can help support programming and policies that may offer that essential feeling of connection to current GRCC students, the power of belonging that contributes to academic success and positive culture. “Student support services are absolutely critical to student success. Connections and relationships that make a student feel seen and appreciated are crucial; they were to me.”

Deb’s current position reflects her dedication to community advocacy well. One nominating narrative reads, “Deb is responsible for directing Steelcase efforts in our local communities in the areas of government relations and public policy, corporate relations and community giving and volunteer programs as well as other ways that Steelcase demonstrates its social responsibility.”

Dedication to social responsibility is evident in Deb Bailey’s record of service to community. She has served as Board Chair of the Heart of West Michigan United Way, is an Aquinas College Board Trustee and is a founding member of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. “By her leadership, she has encouraged others to be active,” one nominator wrote, “if we had more people as dedicated as Deb Bailey, our community would be a much better place.”

Deb holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Counseling from Western Michigan University and a second master’s degree in Management from Aquinas College. As she remarks, “I was a first generation college student myself and I remain passionate about education, women’s issues and health.”


2015 Salute To Women Award Presentation

2014 Salute To Women Award Presentation

2013 Salute To Women Award Presentation

Past Recipients