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My Story Started at GRCC: From nontraditional student to Wyoming superintendent, Craig Hoekstra said caring GRCC culture gave him a boost

April 26, 2021, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Start at GRCC and go anywhere. Every former student has a story to tell about how GRCC gave them the education and opportunity to be successful. 

Two things have played a big role in Craig Hoekstra’s life: Wyoming Public Schools and Grand Rapids Community College.

So it seemed very fitting that on his first day as the Wyoming district’s superintendent, he wore a GRCC alumni shirt.

“I thought this would be the perfect shirt to wear for many reasons, as the college was a big part of my journey,” he said in July 2018.

Hoekstra will share his experiences as GRCC’s commencement keynote speaker on Friday and Saturday. 

He was a student in the district he now leads, graduating from Wyoming Park High School in 1990. While he generally enjoyed school, he admits he didn’t really work to his full potential. Eventually, he decided to quit his job as a linen delivery driver and enroll at GRCC. He worked for Wyoming Public Schools as a night custodian while attending classes. 

“As a nontraditional student with some life experiences under my belt, I went back to school with a purpose and the goal of becoming an educator,” he said.  “Like every road traveled, it certainly isn’t always smooth going. There were long days and long nights.”

After receiving an associate degree in 1998, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in education leadership, both from Grand Valley State University. 

After time as a teacher, he became Wyoming’s assistant superintendent for instructional services in 2015 and was named superintendent in 2018.

He often shares his unique career path to illustrate what can happen with perseverance.

“One of the many beautiful things about GRCC is that you are surrounded by kind, caring and supportive folks who positively push you to work hard and persevere through the challenges to achieve what you set out to accomplish when you enrolled,” he said.

GRCC will celebrate this year’s graduates at four indoor, in-person ceremonies, spreading them out over two days and limiting the number of guests at each event to adhere to pandemic safety protocols. The School of Arts and Sciences ceremonies are planned for 4 and 7 p.m. April 30, with the School of Workforce Development ceremonies at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. May 1. All the ceremonies will be live-streamed on Facebook.


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