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Claudia Billman and Fiona Bergin receive GRCC’s John Regenmorter Scholarship

June 11, 2024

We all leave a legacy of some sort, whether planned or unintentional. Former Grand Rapids Community College Professor John Regenmorter paid particular attention to his legacy through a gift that keeps on giving: the Regenmorter Communication Studies Scholarship fund.

Each year, students who have taken at least two Communication Studies courses and earned a 3.0 grade point average or better may apply for this opportunity. A committee reviews each application and essay, which explains how Communication Studies courses will benefit the applicant’s personal and/or professional life.

“I’ve been coordinating this scholarship application and award process for 15 years,” says Professor Dennis Sutton of the Communication Studies department. “I often know the students who are chosen, and it’s a joy to deliver the news of an award!”

The fund set up by Regenmorter provides a $600 award to two students each year. The 2024 award recipients are Claudia Billman and Fiona Bergin.

Billman completed Intercultural Communication and Fundamentals of Public Relations. 

“Claudia is a good student who pays attention to detail and cares about learning,” Sutton said. “In addition to doing well in class, she also wrote an excellent essay.”

One of the classes Bergin completed was Fundamentals of Public Speaking.

“I have always loved theater, but find it much more difficult to speak in front of others as myself,” Bergin said. “When my advisor told me I needed to take public speaking for a communications major, I was really nervous. However, it worked out well and was very good for my self-esteem.”

Bergin learned that she needed to apply more vocal variety and improve eye contact during her speeches. 

“Gradually throughout the course, however, I gained more and more confidence and took the notes I was given, practicing giving my speeches in front of my family members,” Bergin said. “(My last speech) went perfectly! I remembered to keep eye contact and my voice didn’t waver. I delivered all of the information just as I had prepared it and I could breathe normally throughout, which doesn’t usually happen. I felt proud of myself as I went to sit back down and that good feeling has encouraged me that I can do public speaking if I ever need to, whether in my future career, in another class, etc.”

As Sutton looks forward to retirement after his 20-year teaching career, he reflected on this last chance to coordinate the John Regenmorter Scholarship award process. 

“I am so pleased that John established this legacy to celebrate student communication skills,” he said. “It is an honor to reward students who remain diligent and focused throughout their courses. I found it particularly rewarding to deliver the news of this scholarship to Fiona and Claudia. They were both students of mine and they impressed me with their dedication and abilities. I know they will do well in whatever career they choose to pursue.”

This story was reported by Julie Hordyk.