GRCC student wins MWest Challenge award



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications

(616) 234-4213

April 22, 2015 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids Community College student's business plan won an award with a $1,000 prize at the MWest Challenge competition this past week.

The student business plan competition drew teams from eight West Michigan colleges and universities. In addition to the contest for more than $20,000 in prizes, the event included workshops and opportunities for students to network with funders.

GRCC's Holly Hernandez won the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award for Jitney, her proposal for a taxi-like service that would provide pre-paid rides for people up to 15 times per year, depending on the plan chosen.

Professor Felix Pereiro, head of GRCC's business department, said Hernandez's victory was the culmination of hours and hours of practice and preparation. Assistant professor Matheta Righa, adjunct professors Jorge Sanchez and John Schwalm, and professor Jeffrey Spoelman helped the GRCC students prepare for the event, he said.

"This is a special victory, seeing that Holly is still working on her two-year degree at GRCC and competed against many students who are juniors and seniors at top four-year universities in West Michigan," he said. "Holly put in the clock hours that are necessary to excel and compete against the very best college students in West Michigan and it paid off. She is a person who came out of the gate running toward her dream and overcoming real-life obstacles. She persevered and impressed the judges with her business plan, her presentation and her grit."

Three other GRCC teams participated in the competition:

  • Big Bee Hops with students Barry Bell and Michael Bell.
  • Urban Farmers with student Dylan Hammon.
  • Pie Bar with students Cody Ney, Alexis Donze, Shaun Hill, Nicole Kunnen and Kristin Doornbos (they were unable to attend this weekend’s event).

"Competitive events, such as MWest Challenge, help our GRCC students improve and polish their skills so they are better able to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive marketplace," Pereiro said. "They learn for themselves what entrepreneurs go through during the early start-up stage and the hard work that goes into creating a written business plan and an outstanding idea pitch."

GRCC's business department offers programs in accounting, business administration, management and supervision, marketing, office administration, and interior decorating and design, and certificates in entrepreneurship and marketing. To learn more about these programs, click here.

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.