Grand Rapids Community College gave out scholarships to five African American students on Jan. 25 through their annual Giants
Awards and Banquet. This was the celebration’s 32nd year being presented, and in addition to awarding the scholarships, annual event recognizes and awards African American individuals and organizations of distinction from the Grand Rapids area.
The event was hosted by Jennifer Moss, a former news anchor for WOOD TV. GRCC President Steven Ender gave the welcome address preceding the awards ceremony.
“We are here to recognize 11 people who have each worked within their individual fields to make this community a better place for all of us…” Ender said. “Most of them will not know just how many people around them they really have inspired. Tonight, we acknowledge and honor that impact. These awards are just one way to show our gratitude for the legacy, service, and compassion provided by our giants.”
Giants Awards Winners
LeMark Payne, 45, of Caledonia
Walter Coe Public Service Award
Dr. Candace Smith-King, 37, of Dutton
Eugene Browning Medical Service Award
Shannon Wilson, 33, of Caledonia
W.W. Plummer Humanitarian Award
Mildred Norris, 72, of Grand Rapids
Milo Brown Business Award
Brian Cloyd, 62, of Grand Rapids
Phyllis Scott Activist Award
Eddie M. Rucker, of Grand Rapids
William Glenn Trailblazer Award
Jonathan A. Jelks, 29, of Grand Rapids
Raymond Tardy Community Service Award
Dr. Jermone Glenn, 40, of Grand Rapids
H.C. Toliver Religious Life Award
Cornell Bailey, of Grand Rapids
Hattie Beverly Education Award
Kathy Jackson, 57, of Grand Rapids
Martha Reynolds Labor Award
Before the 11 Giants Awards were given out, five of GRCC’s students were recognized and awarded scholarships for their accomplishments both inside the classroom and through their extracurricular activities.
Ketashia Berrien, 19, a social work major from Grand Rapids, is passionate about education and helping people. She said she plans to transfer to Grand Valley to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degree after attending GRCC.
“This is my first scholarship … and I am the first one in my family to go to college, so I am trying to stay on track, get my degrees out of the way, and be successful,” Berrien said.
Jalen Bibb, 20, of Grand Rapids, is majoring in physics, and would ultimately like to be a particle physicist. “With the help of the scholarship, I am confident in unlocking the potential 2014 has for me,” Bibb stated in his scholarship essay.
He said his inspiration to continue working hard in school is his cousin, who is always constantly encouraging him, and is a scholarship winner himself.
Jonathan Jackson, 19, of Grand Rapids, is majoring in guitar performance and wants to study music and Berkley School of Music. His said his career goal is to bring people together through music.
“I was completely surprised,” Jackson said about the scholarship. “It was one of those things where I thought I should go for it and apply just in case. I never actually thought I would get it.”
London Nathan, 32, of Grand Rapids, is a business major with a 4.0. and a leader in GRCC’s Alpha Beta Omega World Leaders Society.
“I was very excited to get the scholarship,” Nathan said. “I am very hardworking.”
Earnette Wrancher, a juvenile criminal justice major, was unable to attend the awards banquet. She stated in her scholarship essay that she works in her church food pantry and with children’s ministries. “It was God that would not let me give up,” she wrote in her scholarship essay.
The much anticipated Giant Among Giants award was given to Jeffery Kimbrel, who has owned the locally known business, Painting by Jeff, for 22 years. He also started the Sophisticated Gentleman’s Community Club, which has been running for the past 13 years. The club helps provide support for single parents.
The proceeds from the Giants Awards each year go towards funding the Milo M. Brown scholarship fund for GRCC students.