Feb. 12, 2018 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Two Grand Rapids Community College Police Academy students have each been awarded a $1,500 scholarship.
Tracy Harrell and Yamel Marmolejos-Tolentino are the first recipients of the Bragg, Harvard, MuhammadSmith Why We Can’t Wait scholarship for students in criminal justice, education or health care who plan a career in public service.
The Why We Can't Wait fund was established in 2009 by GRCC English professor Mursalata Muhammad, Kent County Sheriff's Deputy Wil Smith, and Sabrina Sewell-Bragg, an administrative assistant in Greenville County, N.C., to honor family members in public service.
“My husband and I have family members who lived public service lives," Muhammad said. "Chet Bragg, my brother-in-law, was a police officer in South Carolina; Claude Harvard, my grandfather, created a work force program with Focus: HOPE in Detroit. My mother, Mutasha Muhammad, gave anyone who showed up at her door a hug, shelter and food. This family scholarship honors their memories and helps GRCC students focus on the cultural competency skills needed to work in public service careers.”
While these are the first awards from the fund for students who plan to pursue public service, the fund has awarded scholarships to support students in attending activities that promote cultural competency, equity and inclusion. Last fall, Harrell and Marmolejos-Tolentino each received $150 scholarships from the fund for participating in the Institute for Healing Racism. The two-day institute, run by GRCC's Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Center for Equity and Inclusion, encourages people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds to discuss thought-provoking topics. The fund provides five Institute for Healing Racism scholarships each academic year.
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.