Holly VanRyn loves seeing her students succeed in the classroom and in the hospitality industry. “It’s my goal to ensure that my students are given the best education opportunities possible,” VanRyn said. “I’m passionate about the hospitality industry, leadership, customer service, fine wine, and food – and I love sharing these passions with my students.”
VanRyn doesn’t want anyone to be surprised by the fantastic array of hospitality programs at GRCC through the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. And she wants people to know the reason behind it.
“The faculty here are of world class caliber and talent, and are definitely the department’s greatest asset,” VanRyn said. “And our diverse curriculum offers a variety of associates degrees, tracks, and certificates. We’ve been consistently awarded American Culinary Federation (ACF) accreditation with exemplary status. And we have transfer relationships with larger universities, like FSU and GVSU. These relationships can function as gateways, making it possible for students to pursue additional degree paths and bachelor’s degrees.”
“Another example of the strengths here at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education is our ability to respond to industry’s needs in developing new programs,” VanRyn said. “A perfect example of that is our new Pre-Hospitality Management Associate degree program. This program is for students interested in “front-of-the-house” careers in the hospitality industry. It combines all of our business, front-of-the-house restaurant courses, and sensory analysis classes with core business classes. Students can transfer directly into FSU’s Hospitality Management bachelor’s degree program.”
VanRyn started working in the hospitality industry when she was 15 years old. “I graduated from the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education and went on to finish my bachelor degree in Business Administration at FSU,” she said. “I moved out to Maui, Hawaii with my husband after college to work for TS Restaurants. I was the Dining Room Manager at Hula Grill on Maui before starting work as a professor at GRCC.”
Looking back, VanRyn’s early focus in hospitality did not leave room to diversify her education. “My entire career had been in the restaurant and hospitality industry until I became a professor at GRCC,” VanRyn said. “I wish that I had known at an earlier age that I’d one day become an educator! I would’ve started my Master’s degree in Career and Technical Education much sooner. However, with all of GRCC's resources, I do feel lucky to be able to complete higher education while teaching full time. I have recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Career and Technical Education from Ferris State University.”
Through the pandemic, VanRyn’s teaching style evolved to embrace technology. “I implemented the flipped classroom approach into my classes years ago,” VanRyn said. “But through the pandemic I learned how to film demonstration videos, how to use video editing software, and many apps that allowed me to connect with students on a deeper level.”
Experience what the hospitality industry has to offer with VanRyn in CA 245 Restaurant Management and Leadership, CA 200 Hospitality Management, CA 233 Wine, Beer and Spirits Management, and CA 243 Wines of the World.