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School News Network feature: GRCC's Seymour Learning Hub brings tutoring, services closer to students

Jan. 12, 2022, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Senad Ajdarevic drops by the Seymour Branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library a few times a week to take advantage of tutoring services from Nathan Reinke.

On a recent Thursday afternoon, Ajdarevic was working on a cover letter for an English 101 assignment. “I’m getting ahead in my work,” said the first-semester GRCC student.

A member of the Bosnian community and a 2021 East Kentwood High School graduate, Ajdaravic is the first in his family to attend college. He is pursuing a criminal justice degree and hopes to become a police officer. He explained, “My goal is to get a bachelor’s. That’s my number one goal.”

Reinke is helping Ajdarevic and other GRCC students meet their goals. Thanks to a grant from the AT&T Foundation and a partnership with the Grand Rapids Public Library, the GRCC Seymour Learning Hub started in September, offering a quiet place to study, snacks and English tutoring from Reinke, 24 hours a week, at 2350 Eastern Ave. SE. He works with as many as 30 students per week.

A lot of his time is also spent helping students navigate GRCC’s online platform, Blackboard. He also helps them set up for Accuplacer testing and complete Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms. Drop in hours are 3 to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. The program was recently extended to continue on the same schedule next semester.

Serving Southeast Side Students

“You get the one-on-one help, and what’s best about this program is it’s not limited,” Ajdarevic said, referring to the fact that he can come five days a week in addition to attending in-person classes. “Time flies by … it’s amazing. I’m here a lot.”

Reinke said the learning hub was created to offer the community in the 49507 ZIP code a neighborhood go-to place for GRCC tutoring. The area is home to many students who are minorities and English-language learners.

“We are also specifically trying to target non-traditional students – students who are going to college after five or more years of being out of school,” he said.

Many students are taking online courses, so it’s a benefit to have someone like Reinke to check in with if they have questions.

Reinke, a 2021 graduate of Grand Valley State University, has a bachelor’s degree in professional and classical language.

“I recommend Nathan. He’s a very big help,” Ajdarevic said. “He’s very nice, and what is good about Nathan is he has experience with college students. You basically have a peer right by your side to help you out.”

This story was written and photographed by Erin Albanese of the School News Network.

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