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GRCC Armen Awards winners announced

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The winners of the third Grand Rapids Community College Armen Awards were announced Friday, after which the funder announced he would support at least three more years of the competition.

There were eight finalists for this year’s competition, which focused on service learning, or make a sustainable difference in the community while completing coursework.

“I am very supportive of co-op education, where they have on-the-job work as well as academic work, and that’s what we’re leaning towards now,” said Armen Oumedian funder and creator of the awards. “And when I see so many people be a part of this, it shows that we’re reaching out into the community more and more.”

The winners include:

First place and $3000: Dental instructor Deb Shultz and students from the Community Dental Health course teamed with Salvation Army-Booth Family Services to educate pregnant teens and teen mothers in oral hygiene.

Second place and $1,500: Wellness instructor Melanie Schiele-Gady and students from the Principles of Physical Education course teamed with East Leonard Elementary School on an “Organ Wise Guys” to educate children about living a healthy lifestyle.

Third place and $750: Computer Applications instructor Szymon Machajewski and students from his Mobile Device Security and Development course created an app for The Collegiate to increase readership and accessibility.

“These successes have led me to a new commitment,” Oumedian said. “…Another three years…It was fun working earning the money, and it’s just as fun giving it away, and maybe more.”

Shultz said her students worked hard on the project and went above and beyond the expectations. The opportunity was available to everyone in Shultz’s class, but only small number took advantage, one of them being GRCC student Nancy Kyser.

“It was a lot of hard work along way but worth it completely,” Kyser said. “Excited to see how they will be able to make future impact with these girls as the teen parent center.”

Schiele-Gady, who began to well up with emotion while sharing her experience, was also very excited about the win.

“Our job is to help serve our community,” Schiele-Gady said. “…This obesity epidemic is real, and if we don’t change it, we’re going to have more people dying from heart disease and high cholesterol and high blood pressure, type II diabetes. Those are real. We’ve just got to teach people.

Machajewski was excited to help his students gain experience in an area he is passionate about.

“It’s a technology that really has a lot of career potential behind it, so sharing…the knowledge of programming (and) the skill of deploying the apps, finding needs, finding customers and creating your own market–that is something I get very excited about, and I hope that we can continue introducing students to very career-minding projects in the future,” Machajewski said.