July 22, 2020 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Community College’s Metallica Scholars will continue gaining skills leading to in-demand welding careers, although the coronavirus crisis is prompting some different approaches to maintain the safest environment possible.
The current class – the third overall as the program starts its second year – has 15 students. GRCC was one of 10 colleges selected nationwide for the initial Metallica Scholars grant in 2018, and was awarded additional funding in 2019.
The heavy metal band’s All Within My Hands Foundation teamed up with the American Association of Community Colleges on the project, which provides workforce training for community college students and reinvests in cities where the musicians have performed.
“We have witnessed the impact our workforce training programs can make on people’s lives,” said Julie Parks, executive director of Workforce Training. “Students leave here with new skills, and also confidence to know they can be successful in a rewarding career. We are proud of our partnerships with employers to make these programs stronger and provide opportunities. Metallica Scholars is a great example.”
GRCC created an intensive welding program that takes less time to complete than traditional courses. It also features smaller class sizes with flexible scheduling options and career preparation assistance. Students also gain hiring skills and meet with area employers.
Students participating in classes that started this month are following strict safety protocols in light of the COVID-19 crisis, including face coverings and other personal protection equipment along with health screenings before entering the Leslie E. Tassell M-TEC facility.
The class was divided in two parts, with students learning in groups of seven for social distancing purposes.
Krista Steffens, a graduate in the first class, overcame great challenges to become an inspiration to classmates and earned recognition from the Michigan Department of Education. Steffens was one of 62 students honored with a 2020 Breaking Traditions Award, given to students who overcame obstacles and stereotypes to succeed in career and technical education programs.
“Being a Metallica Scholar opened up endless possibilities,” Steffens said in April. “It’s been a great experience, so different from what I was doing before. I really have to thank Metallica and GRCC for what this program has done for me.”
Steffens completed the Metallica Scholars program and was approached by her employer, Moiron, a division of Leggett and Platt Furniture, to keep growing her welding skill set. She is currently an apprentice and is taking classes at GRCC with plans to obtain her associate degree.
Grand Rapids Community College offers learners of all ages opportunities to gain credits for degrees or transfer and in-demand career skills leading to rewarding careers. GRCC was established in 1914 – Michigan’s first community college -- and offers affordable classes on weekdays, evenings, Saturdays and online at locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.