April 27, 2023, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Olivia Margo Anderson and Stephen Abid, who attended Grand Rapids Junior College then spent their careers changing the lives of generations of students, will be honored during Friday’s commencement ceremonies.
GRCC is planning two ceremonies on Friday, April 28, with the students in the School of Liberal Arts and the School of STEM celebrated at 4 p.m. Students in the School of Business and Industry and the School of Health Sciences will be honored at a 7:30 p.m. ceremony. Both events will be at the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse, 111 Lyon St. NE in Grand Rapids.
Anderson will be saluted with the Distinguished Alumna Award.
She started her education at what was then Grand Rapids Junior College and transferred to Western Michigan University. She later earned three master’s degrees from Western, in Elementary Education; in Counseling and Personnel; and in Educational Leadership.
A lifelong educator, Anderson worked 32 years in the Grand Rapids Public Schools as an elementary teacher, high school counselor, assistant principal and elementary principal.
She retired from GRPS in 2000, and was elected to the GRCC board of trustees a year later, serving through 2014 and holding several leadership roles.
Anderson focused on inclusion and equity during her time on the board, working to ensure a life-changing education was within reach of all residents.
Beyond her decades of serving the children in Kent County, Anderson is a 50-year, life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a lifelong member and trustee of First Community AME Church, Grand Rapids Women's History Council, YWCA, and as an Urban League of West Michigan board member. She earned the 1991 Phyllis Scott Activist GIANT Award and a Tribute Award from the YWCA.
Abid will be honored with the Faculty Emeritus Award.
He was a professor and leader at GRCC for 27 years. He’s known for his passion for teaching and care for his students – one ever referred to him as her “angel professor” for his efforts to help her be successful.
“For many of our students, GRCC is their first, best option, but for more than a few, we are their last, best option,” he wrote upon retiring in 2020. “So, my goal was to help them to see that they can achieve their goals and I am happy to facilitate that!”
Abid came to what was then Grand Rapids Junior College as a student in 1973, where he often noted he earned a degree and met his wife.
Abid was a high school teacher for 16 years and taught as an adjunct instructor before returning to GRCC full time in 1993 to teach economics.
He served in a variety of leadership roles at the college, and remains active, serving on the Grand Rapids Community College Foundation Board of Directors, to help the next generations.