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  • MSCTE (Instructor Focus) - Ferris State University
  • B.S. - Ferris State University
  • A.A.A.S. - Grand Rapids Community College


Set-Up an Advising Appointment with Holly VanRyn

What are the strengths of the program at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education?

The Secchia Institute for Culinary Education has a fantastic array of programs right here at Grand Rapids Community College! I am extremely proud to be alumni of this program. The faculty here are of world class caliber and talent and are definitely the department’s greatest asset.

Secchia Institute for Culinary Education’s diverse curriculum offers you a variety of associate degrees, tracks, and certificates. The program has been consistently awarded American Culinary Federation (ACF) accreditation with exemplary status. Our program is part of Grand Rapids Community College which allows us to develop relationships with larger universities, like Ferris State University and Grand Valley State University. These relationships can function as gateways, making it possible for you 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. 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. The program combines all of our business, front-of-the-house restaurant courses, and sensory analysis classes with core business classes at GRCC. Students can transfer directly into Ferris State University’s Hospitality Management bachelor’s degree program.

What do you like best about being a professor at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education?

I love seeing my students succeed in the classroom and in the hospitality industry. It is my goal and to ensure that my students are given the best education opportunities possible. I am passionate about the hospitality industry, leadership, customer service, fine wine, and food and I love sharing these passions with my students. My career is extremely fulfilling because of the students I teach.

What do you know now that you wished you knew when you first started out?

My entire career had been in the restaurant and hospitality industry until I became a professor here.

I wish that I had known at an earlier age that I would one day become an educator! I would have 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.

You will benefit directly from my academic pursuits because Ferris has prepared me to meet the challenges today's diverse students face. I am bringing an immense amount of information and expertise that helps me develop curriculum and programs. My favorite part about this experience is implementing what I’ve learned about teaching and education in my own classroom.

What is your current obsession?

I am obsessed with learning everything that I can about wine. I wish there were more hours in the day so I could devote more time to my wine knowledge. I love to learn about why wines taste the way they do. This can come down to climate, grape varietals, winemaking practices, and much more. Learning more about wine never ceases to fascinate me.

I am a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. The Certified Sommelier exam required me to pass a blind tasting of four wines (two red and two white), a difficult test on the theory of wine, and a practical service examination. In my classes, I share the deductive wine tasting process with you so that you too can hone your blind tasting skills and techniques to become a wine expert. I use similar service practical examination techniques in my Restaurant Management and Leadership class.

Who is your hero? Why?

My husband is my hero. He continually supports me in all that I do. He is full of encouragement but also provides much needed constructive criticism. As a woman in the hospitality industry, I think it is important to have a partner who fully supports your career. My husband does this for me and is my hero because of it.

Courses taught:

  • Restaurant Management and Leadership (CA 245)
  • Wines of the World (CA 243)
  • Beer, Wine, and Spirits Management (CA 233)
  • Hospitality Management (CA 200)
Holly VanRyn
Associate Professor
(616) 234-3699