Grand Rapids Community College received high praise from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today during her campus visit.
“Let me just say that it’s a pleasure to be here in Grand Rapids to see some of the amazing things that are going on at Grand Rapids Community College and all of the amazing programs that are helping so many students,” Devos said, after she toured GRCC’s Applied Technology Center and Tassle M-TEC building.“There are so many different pathways to higher education and Grand Rapids Community College really embodies the best of these opportunities for the students.”
DeVos’s first stop on the tour was the kitchen in the ATC building that is used by all culinary students and then moved on to one of the many manufacturing labs that are housed in the ATC building.
GRCC professor Nate Spahn escorted DeVos around the lab and introduced her to some of the students that were working on projects. DeVos was very eager to chat with the students and learn more about what they were working on.
Despite the fact that a small group of protesters had gathered outside, many of the students on the tour seemed very open to talking to her.
“It was really cool,” said Joe Olsteman, a GRCC manufacturing student. ”She is a very nice lady.”
DeVos seemed surprised when Spahn informed her that he will usually see anywhere from 200 to 400 students in the lab every week.
“That’s amazing that you help so many people learn what they love,” DeVos said. “I’ve also heard that there are many older people that like to come in to retrain themselves and learn more, which I love.”
After a full tour of the lab, the tour moved across downtown to the Tassle M-TEC building.
DeVos arrived and was introduced to a virtual 3-D welding program. The program works kind of like a virtual reality headset that resembles a welding mask. Students can wear the mask to look around the virtual workshop so they can practice their welding.
DeVos then moved to the automotive workshop in M-TEC to speak with a few other students and faculty.
The tour quickly continued to another manufacturing lab where DeVos chatted with a few more students about the technology that they were using and how long they had been in the program for.
The next and last stop of the tour was the woodworking lab. As the tour was happening, there was a construction camp for younger kids underway.
DeVos went around and asked some of the kids what they were doing and if they were enjoying it.
The tour ended with a short press briefing in the main lobby of the M-TEC.
Meanwhile, small protests were visible outside both the ATC and M-TECH buildings.
Protesters were expressing opposition to DeVos and questioning her qualifications.Deven VanHide, 28, of Grand Rapids was one of the protesters.
“I’m here because Betsy Devos and her administration are basically taking our money from our pockets and education.”