By Jennifer Lugo – Collegiate Staff
For the past five years, Grand Rapids Community College has motivated students and faculty to reach beyond the classroom and into the community for learning. The Experiential Service Learning Department at GRCC gives community partners, faculty, and students the opportunity to come together annually to create team projects, focusing on the needs of the community partner and student learning outcomes, competing for 3 cash awards.
The Armen Awards is a competition held to inspire change, and help students recognize the impact they can have on the community. According to GRCC’s Experiential Learning Department website, “both students and faculty report that service learning increases the understanding and depth of course content while promoting the knowledge and understanding of civic and social issues.”
This year, five faculty-led groups of students went out into the community to make a difference, while impacting their own lives in a new way. This year the theme was “community service.”
Assistant Professor, Drew Rozema, from CO 275 Mobile Application Development and Security and his students partnered with Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts to create a mobile application allowing event patrons to learn about the event happenings.
Bob Schultz, from the culinary arts department, CA 115 Table Service, came together with students to create a fundraiser benefiting The Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood and her Journalism students partnered with Hospice of Michigan to educate the public on the role of hospice during the dying process, producing stories and documentaries of those seeking hospice services.
Students in CO 116, Introduction to Computer Programming, and instructor, Katie VanderMeer volunteered in a 5th grade classroom at Orchard View Elementary School to teach students about coding.
Sherry Knoppers, RN, and students in her AD 248/258 Community Transcultural Nursing class partnered with North End Community Ministry to assess their food pantry, focusing on health promotion and disease prevention.
“Students are provided an opportunity to challenge themselves beyond the traditional course expectations and gain hands-on experience by serving a community organization,” said Mike Schavey, Department of Experiential Learning Director. “I’m excited to again see the diversity of disciplines that are participating this year: nursing, journalism, culinary and computer science. It seems that each year the bar gets raised for service learning projects and this year all of the teams have done an amazing job.” Schavey will host the event for a second time this year.
The contest is open to any faculty and students once a year, and for this year’s projects, submissions were finalized in November, 2014.. Teams were expected to show progress, meeting deadlines in February. Final outcome reports were turned in for evaluation on April 10. Recognition will be given to the teams for their efforts at the Armen Awards Celebration event. The top three teams will be announced.
The Armen Awards Celebration event will be held at 3 p.m. on April 24, at Kendall College of Art and Design, Woodbridge N. Ferris Building located at 17 Pearl St. NW.