By Warren Sink – Collegiate Staff
Grand Rapids Community College Coordinator of Retention and former student, Chris Sain Jr., was recently listed in the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 40 under Forty Business Leaders. The list labels the most innovative people under the age of forty in the Grand Rapids area.
Sain was caught unaware by his nomination. He called the surprise an “honor,” and attributed his place on the list to the hours of work he does for the community.
Sain started Grand C.I.T.Y. Sports, a faith-based nonprofit organization, that guides urban youth through education and sports to a realistically viable future as adults. He aspires to be a model in the community for people of all ages.
Sain attended Ottawa Hills High School, growing up on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. He spoke of the culture he was born in, and the uphill climb that results.
“I come from an environment that’s plagued with devastation and desolation,” Sain said. “We come from an environment where violence is high, where poverty is high, where crime is high, and when those things are prevalent, the community becomes hopeless.”
Sain left Grand Rapids, and enrolled at Michigan State University in 2001. He was a walk-on for the football team. After two years Sain left MSU and returned to Grand Rapids to be more involved with his family, and attended GRCC for a semester. Saginaw Valley State eventually offered him a football scholarship in 2005, and he finished college there in 2007, earning his bachelor’s degree in social work. The following year, he earned his master’s degree in clinical social work from an accelerated program at Wayne State University.
From there, Sain worked at the University of Notre Dame and Berrien County Juvenile Center, as a mentor towards those he feels an underlying connection to. Eventually Sain became the retention coordinator at GRCC. His work is centered on helping those that can benefit from his story.
Sain recently published a memoir, “Dumb Athlete,” documenting his life growing up in an impoverished community and how he managed to empower himself.
Sain spoke of the work it took to write a book and compared the experience to graduating college.
“Going to college and earning a degree doesn’t make you smarter, it just means that you are more self-disciplined than most,” Sain said.
Despite spending only a semester at GRCC, Sain “[has] always desired to be here.”
As the retention coordinator, Sain works to help students realize their potential in school and life and keep them enrolled.
“I’m happy to be here in a position where I can impact people’s lives,” Sain said.