Twenty three students received awards at the 2016 Grand Rapids Community College Student Leadership Banquet, held at Grand Valley State University’s Eberhard Center, April 16. GRCC’s Student Alliance coordinated the event, and celebrate accomplishments of some of the college’s students and staff.
GRCC President Steven Ender was the first speaker of the afternoon and highlighted student achievement throughout the school year.
“Today, we are really here to celebrate all of you and the potential you bring to society on your life’s journey,” Ender said. “I ask all the leaders, scholars, and athletes represented today to continue to serve your communities, be role models of distinction and excellence. May your journeys be filled with great joy. Thank you.”
GRCC Student Alliance President Brandon Sinclair and Campus Activities Board President Hana Christoffersen co-hosted the event as the master and mistress of ceremonies.
Bill Pink, dean and vice president of the school of workforce development, took the stage as the keynote speaker.
Using his own humorous story about being on stage with The Temptations as an example of failed expectation, Pink said students, faculty, and staff at GRCC have set the bar for community colleges.
“You are not paying attention to the expectation,” Pink said. “You are rising above.”
Pink went on to talk about the accomplishments of students and how organizations set new standards and new expectations because of what they do.
“When I hear that you guys set records as far as student activities are concerned and their attendance,” Pink said. “When I hear things about Phi Theta Kappa, that you blew it out of the water, five star ratings, new clubs coming online, a Native American club we’ve never had before. What you are doing, friends, is you are blowing that expectation out of the water, and for that, I say congratulations.”
Pink said the strongest mentor of his life was his basketball coach of at Oklahoma Christian University, who would sweep the floors of the basketball court every day, despite being the one of the best coaches in the state, and having coached junior U.S. Olympic teams.
“Be a leader who sweeps the floor,” Pink said. “Be a leader, friends, who is not ashamed, who is not afraid to do the very thing that people wouldn’t expect of you. You need to be the person who is not afraid to better their organization.”
GRCC student Jose Garcia, commented on Pink’s speech.
“It brought a lot of strong background information on real life,” Garcia said. “I think it highlighted that we’re all people here. We’re all here to better ourselves and help others.”
Garcia will be taking the reins as Student Alliance president in May. He said he was impressed by the impact students have made at the college.
“I’ve travelled and seen poverty and just a lot of injustices,” Garcia said. “The impact that these students are making is really profound, not only in that people outside of our country are receiving help, but they are setting the example and paving the way for others.”
GRCC student Ahmed Ali, 22, international business and politics major, won the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Award.
Ali said he came from a large refugee camp, the award inspires him to work towards the advancement of himself and other refugees, in other countries and here in the United States.
“When I first got the email for the nomination I thought, ‘What did I do? How did I get this?’” Ali said. “I couldn’t believe it. I was too excited. I wrote a nomination letter, but I never wrote about myself.”
Maleny Crespo, who will soon be the new Student Alliance Director of External Affairs, was happy to participate in the event.
“Words cannot express the gratitude I have for being able to be here, and to see the support that the staff and community have for GRCC students,” Crespo said. “Tonight I saw Student Life not only as an organization that wants to bring activities to GRCC students, but they also want to see that they really want relationship to flourish among them. It’s not just student oriented. It’s not just activities oriented. It’s relationship oriented, and community oriented as well.”
The winners of the 2016 Student Leadership Awards included:
- Outstanding Biology Student of the Year Award – Sierra Smalley
- Excellence in Analytical Chemistry – Trey Pankratz
- Excellence in Chemistry – Daniel Caylor
- Excellence in Geology – Hannah Noorman
- Excellence in Physics – Daniel Ridderbos
- Distinguished Music Student Academic Leadership Award – Wesley Weidig
- Emerging Student Academic Leadership Award – Anna Leestma
- Social Sciences Award – Grace Marz, Joseph Voorhorst, Catharine Trachsel
- Donald R. Black Outstanding Female Athlete Award – Kristen Schubring, Volleyball
- Donald R. Black Outstanding Male Athlete Award – Brenden Johnson, Baseball
- Merle Storr Athletic/Academic Award – Jordan Stephens, Baseball
- Gordon Hunsberger Award – Bruce VandenBeldt, Former Golf Coach
- Wellness Student of the Year Award – Julia Barron
- Exercise Science Student of the Year Award – Michael Powell & Austin Mariglia
- Creative Dining Services Student Employee Scholarship Award – Allison Simpson
- Jerry Benham Award for Staff and Faculty – Lynnae Selberg
- Benham Service and Civic Engagement Award – Stacey Murphy
- Cedric and Sandy Ward Leadership Award – Beau VanSolkema
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award – Ahmed Ali
- Brian Kloet Campus Involvement Award – Brandon Sinclair