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Here to Help: Denise Jones connects struggling students with resources to help them be successful

Nov. 12, 2021, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Always remember, at GRCC, you are surrounded by people who want you to be successful and are ready to walk with you on your educational pathway. We are here to help!

Meet Denise Jones. As the coordinator of Student Success and Retention, Denise works to bridge the gap between faculty and students who need academic support.

Denise responds to early alerts, sent by professors who worry a student might be starting to struggle. GRCC wants all of its students to be successful, and has a variety of resources students might not be aware of.  

Denise is an expert at finding the best type of supports to help students with their particular need. She provides the student with a personalized plan to overcome the obstacle.  

Denise is moved by being able to connect students with supportive resources to help them to be successful on their educational journey. She learned how to connect students with helpful and supportive resources on campus and in the community as a former success coach – and a former GRCC student.  

"I attended Grand Rapids Community College as a first step to my educational journey," she said. "I always wanted to go back to school and earn a degree but was afraid of the entrance tests for math, English and reading. However, after experiencing the death of my father, I gained the courage to take the test and accept the results to start my educational journey to higher education."

Prior to enrolling into GRCC, Denise worked in a factory for 18 years. She also volunteered in her daughter’s classroom as an aid and worked as an after-school care director for several years.

With this experience, she decided to attend GRCC to become a paraprofessional. Her choice of majors evolved into social work as she followed her passion to help those in need.

"My journey was not smooth sailing because I did not know how to balance being a single parent, working a part-time job and going to school," she said. "It took a tremendous amount of prayer, persistence, determination, and encouragement. Also, receiving help from family members, friends, instructors and sometimes even strangers."

Denise graduated from GRCC and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Grand Valley State University. She is a proud GRCC alum and proud to help our diverse population of students here at GRCC -- giving them words of encouragement, and sometimes just listening.

And, most importantly sharing the advice she got here as a student: It is a strength to ask for help.

Denise is part of the seventh Urban Cohort at Cornerstone University’s Theological Seminary where she is working to earn a Master’s degree in Arts in Ministry Leadership.

The office of Student Success and Retention is located in room 313 of the Student Center, and additional information is at

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