Five GRCC faculty-student teams compete for service learning awards



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications

(616) 234-4213

March 2, 2015 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The five service learning projects competing for Grand Rapids Community College’s Armen Awards cover disciplines ranging from culinary arts to computer applications.

Longtime GRCC supporter Armen Oumedian created and funds the awards for excellence in service learning. The awards, now in their fifth year, are part of his commitment to innovative thinking, a passion that has already led him to create several scholarships. In the Armen Awards competition, faculty members lead students in designing and completing service projects to benefit community organizations. The projects must fulfill course requirements while meeting a community need.

The teams’ work with the community groups will culminate with a celebration from 3-5 p.m. April 24 at the Kendall College of Art and Design’s Woodbridge N. Ferris Building, 17 Pearl St. NW. The top three teams will receive awards.

“I enjoy the ability to reward others, especially those who have demonstrated their willingness to challenge and improve their teaching practices while making an impact on the lives of others,” said Oumedian, retired senior vice president of Pinnacle Automation. "Students today need opportunities to apply their learning. I’m glad GRCC provides students with opportunities to participate in service learning.”

The teams and their community partners are:

  • Drew Rozema and students in his Mobile Application Development and Security course will partner with the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts to create a mobile application that will give the public information about food booths, venue acts and other festival happenings.
  • Bob Schultz and students in his Table Service course created a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Michigan.
  • Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood and students in her Introduction to Journalism course are working with Hospice of Michigan to write a series of stories documenting the lives of those who seek the organization’s services.
  • Katie VanderMeer and students in her Introduction to Computer Programming course are teaching Orchard View Elementary fifth-graders the fundamentals of coding.
  • Sherry Knoppers and students in her Community Transcultural Nursing course have teamed up with North End Community Ministry to help its food pantry better promote health and disease prevention.

“It’s always interesting to see what our faculty can come up with," said Michael Schavey, director of GRCC’s department of experiential learning. “This year, we have new disciplines and community organizations participating — again demonstrating the value of community engagement throughout our curricula.”

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.