GRCC Student Success Story: Raydale Bonivel

April 19, 2018 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A Grand Rapids Community College student's ambition is to change the world by helping others see it differently.

Raydale Bonivel was introduced to the subject of psychology as a high school junior. 

"I fell in love," he said. "I decided in that moment, in that space, that if I had to spend the rest of my life doing something, it would be in that field.

"In order to help someone think better, I have to first know how people think. What's on their mind? What's their perspective, views and ideologies? I want to influence the cognitive aspect of someone's life for the better. Ultimately from that, change will come."

But most of the people he knew didn't strive for higher education.

"People who look like me, where I grew up, didn't live past 15 or 16 years old -- let alone get an education," Bonivel said. "If they did live, they were either incarcerated or have stepped into fatherhood.

"Being raised by a single mother, working day in and day out just to make ends meet, I told myself, 'This will not be the life I become content with.'"

His involvement with GRCC's Alpha Beta Omega gave him a place to learn -- and lead. ABO is a leadership development program designed to improve graduation rates for African American men. Members of ABO, which is funded by the Wege Foundation, work with mentors on strategies for success in college, career and life. They have access to one-on-one tutoring, workshops, study tables, and math and writing groups. 

Bonivel especially enjoyed joining ABO members in community projects. He also volunteered with the Latino Youth and African American Male Achievement conferences and the 3 Mile Project. 

Associate professor Andre Fields, ABO director, said the volunteer work benefits group members as much as it does the community. 

"Community outreach experiences enhance our members' leadership skills and increases each student's sense of social responsibility and self-confidence. We are helping them become leaders at the local and national level.

In addition to working with ABO, Bonivel acted in the GRCC Players production of "Detroit '67" and received GRCC's Benham Service and Civic Engagement Award. He maintained a cumulative 3.0 GPA -- while also working off-campus.

He plans to continue studying psychology after receiving his associate degree at GRCC's commencement, which starts at 7 p.m. April 27 in Ford Fieldhouse, 111 Lyon St. NE. 

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.

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