JaVon Brown, a Grand Rapids Community College student, received the Achiever’s Award from the Department of Human Services on Jan. 16. The award pays recognition to “people who have overcome significant life challenges to achieve self-sufficiency.”
In particular, Brown suffered from a delinquent past and irregular employment history. Having a felony on his record and lacking formal educational training made it next to impossible to find a job, yet he had hope to turn things around.
He enrolled in GRCC’s Automotive Training Program with intents to leave his struggles behind and become a better person.
And become a better person, he did. He flourished in his studies, graduating from the program in 2012 and passing all four state tests. It was a feat that no one has ever done before, said his instructor, Gayl Beals, to GRCC Today.
“I look at him as setting the bar for something I didn’t think anyone could achieve,” Beals said. “I see him going even farther than what I thought he could.”
The struggle after graduation was in finding a job, but with supportive case management through the Michigan Works! PATH Program, Brown eventually was offered a full-time job at Christian Brothers Automotive in the field he loves.
Many people were proud in the tiny cramped room on Thursday as Brown stood up to accept his award, but none more so than his family, smiling from the crowd. For Brown, it is a step in the right direction toward providing a better life for his son; and for GRCC, it is one more reason to be proud of a Raider student.