GRCC graduate finds encouragement in Business Department



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications

(616) 234-4213

April 19, 2017 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids Community College student is grateful to a business professor who saw her potential -- even when she couldn't.

Rena Curtis entered the workforce after high school. But when she was offered a management position at the retailer she worked for, she decided she wanted to head in a new direction. She enrolled at GRCC with plans to major in accounting through the "3+1" transfer agreement with Davenport University. Students in this type of program take three years' worth of courses at GRCC and then transfer to Davenport for the final year.

Curtis has spent a major portion of her time at GRCC in the Business Tutorial and Computer Lab. There, she found crucial support that helped her reach her goal of earning a 4.0 GPA.

"I would not be at the place where I am today without the tutors' help," Curtis said. "At times, subjects or concepts were a struggle for me to grasp, and yet they were very accommodating in finding new ways to clarify them."

Accounting professor Richard Barnhart encouraged Curtis to continue her hard work.

"He saw my potential and capability before I knew that it existed," Curtis said. "It is evident to his students that he wants them to be successful inside and outside of his classroom. 

"At one point, I was ready to quit. I did not know if I had it in me to continue with school after the death of my father. But with Professor Barnhart's encouragement, I knew that I could not abandon my goal -- giving up was not an option when I was so close to earning an associate degree."

Barnhart says Curtis should be proud of what she's accomplished.

"She is an outstanding student who is very dedicated to learning and works exceptionally hard to achieve her educational goals," he said.

Curtis will receive her associate degree at commencement, which takes place 7 p.m. April 28 at Ford Fieldhouse, 226 Lyon St. NE. After earning her bachelor's degree at Davenport, she would like to work for a nonprofit organization. 

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 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.