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Here to Help: Jamillya Hardley is an advocate working to create a sense of belonging for all GRCC students

Feb. 17, 2022, 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 Jamillya Hardley. Jamillya is committed to social justice and advocacy and is working to create a sense of belonging for all GRCC students. As assistant director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Jamillya enjoys learning about GRCC students so she can create opportunities for them to have a voice, and help them as they continue their academic, professional and personal journey.

"My work includes serving our GRCC students, staff, faculty and the Grand Rapids community by creating programs, training, events and other initiatives that educate, strengthen awareness and create spaces that welcome all to be their authentic true selves," Jamillya said.

"I have a role that serves students, and specifically offers mentorship, programming and student development through a DEI lens, supporting and challenging students, staff and faculty. It is always important to note that I hold a role where I can operate as a change agent, advocate for all, and create spaces for conversations that aren't typically happening inside the classroom. Being present and accessible is something I take pride in, so whenever there is an opportunity to support, attend, or be present at programs or events happening on campus, I make my best effort to show up!"

Jamillya knows through experience it is important for college students to have a lot of people on campus rooting for them and supporting them. As a student at University of Michigan working towards a bachelor's degree in sociology, Jamillya found support and career inspiration playing on the women's basketball team.

"My support from the court initiated my passion for working with college students," Jamillya said. "I have a strong passion for working with student-athletes and am excited to lead GRCC's new Champions for Diversity Initiative. This program will create community connections by having our very own student-athletes impact different community service opportunities. I believe athletes are great role models and have remarkable stories to share off the court or field. Teaching all students to use their voice, learn more about their intersecting identities, and stand up for injustice are all valuable in student development. Creating discussions and training will also be a pivotal part of the Champions for Diversity Initiative."

Jamillya is most passionate about the parts of her work that allow her to connect with GRCC students and employees, and build relationships in our community. And she is looking forward to continuing to learn from students, her team in ODEI and the GRCC community.

"I have always been a firm believer in being a teacher and a learner," Jamillya said. "There is always room to grow when it comes to DEI work, and I am very grateful to work in an office where I can constantly be challenged and pushed to learn new things every day."

Jamillya attended Grand Rapids Christian High school. She played sports, focused on academics, and earned a full-ride scholarship to U of M. She continued her education at Grand Valley State University where she earned her master's in the College of Student Affairs Leadership Higher Education program, and strengthened her ties to GRCC.

"I have always had a connection to GRCC," Jamillya said. "During my master's program, I volunteered as an assistant coach helping out the Women's Basketball program. I loved having a role where I was more than just a basketball coach. I served as a mentor, role model, life coach, motivator, advisor and more for the team." 

After her master's program, Jamillya grew her career in student affairs gaining experience in student conduct, academic advising, career development and athletics. Most recently she worked as a residence life administrator and an adjunct professor at GVSU.

She said working with GRCC Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer B. Afeni McNeely Cobham and the ODEI team “has been a phenomenal transition, so far!"

“I am proud to be a part of this team, connect with students and be a part of something greater, making a difference!"

You can learn more about the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at and contact the office via email at or phone at (616) 234-3390.