By Kailey Coen – Collegiate Staff
The Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees held interviews Sept. 30 to fill the currently open seat on the board. There are a total of 11 community members interviewing for the spot.
The first of six interviews Wednesday was Bev Drake of Grand Rapids. She attended what was then known as Grand Rapids Community Junior College before attending and eventually graduating from Grand Valley State University. Drake considers herself a social activist, and is proud of it.
“I believe that everyone should have equal access to all kinds of opportunities,” Drake said.
Drake has worked in public administration for 41 years. When she started working for the city she was also working for GRCC. She said she values the technical aspects the college provides to students and has previous board experience with multiple organizations. If elected, she wants to bring to light the issue that not enough Grand Rapids Public School students are attending GRCC after high school considering how affordable it is. Her main issue for the future is bringing additional funding to the college.
Next was Ron Moderski, who grew up in Detroit before moving to Grand Rapids in 1989. Moderski has worked mostly in the public sector. He also has previous board experience, and is in favor of programs that support education. Moderski believes GRCC should bring on classes there are a demand for and to shut down classes when the demand changes.
“What was important five years ago may not be important today,” Moderski said. “Demands have changed.”
Third to be interviewed was Ron Draayer of Grand Rapids. Draayer graduated from Calvin College and is now a professor at Davenport University. He believes that student success inside and outside of school is very important. Draayer has several years of experience of college administration at Davenport University and would like to bring that experience to GRCC. He would like to see the trade programs strengthened to support the demand for skilled workers in the community.
“I am a strong believer that community colleges, both in Grand Rapids and around the country are the result of the economy,” Draayer said. “When things are really tough it is hard for people to get jobs and they tend to come back to school to learn skills, try and build their resume, to build their credentials and so forth.”
Kathleen Ley-Brunisma a corporate business attorney, also supports the technical training courses that are supporting businesses in the community, and was the next to be interviewed. Brunisma feels her experience as a lawyer will bring value to the board in a variety of ways and thinks the board should continue addressing GRCC’s current budget deficit. A supporter of the current Fast Track program GRCC offers, she feels the college should maintain and expand the relationship between the businesses in the community and believes that offering more online courses would be beneficial.
“(GRCC should) enhance or expand the Fast Track program,” said Brunisma. “The things I have been reading about the Fast Track program, catching students up in the summer before they start, I think it looks very promising. It looks like it’s doing a good job.”
Melaine Brim, who has worked in health care for 40 years, has spent the last 20 working for the state in the department of health and human services. Brim is currently the president and CEO of the Michigan Health Council, a non-profit organization. Brim has served on a number of different public boards while working for the state. If elected, Brim would like to focus on social issues that are preventing students from achieving what they want. She also believes GRCC should keep its tuition low and affordable. She would like to focus more on what careers are going to be needed in the future rather than on today’s jobs.
“I think it’s incredibly important that we think about how kids now and going forward are going to want to learn,” said Brim.
Milinda (Mindy) Ysasi of Grand Rapids, was the final interview of the day. Ysasi attended GVSU and earned a degree in human resources. Last year she unsuccessfully ran for the Grand Rapids Public School board. Currently, Ysasi is the executive director of The Source, a non-profit employee support organization in Grand Rapids. She has previous board experience and an aspiration for public service. Ysasi believes that removing barriers that prevent people from going to school is a current need for GRCC. She also thinks having a strong partnership with businesses in the community is important for GRCC to be able to develop courses to teach the skills those businesses need.
“Until we resolve a lot of barriers that exist in our community i.e the violence, i.e the things that run our transportation, trauma people experience… I know that if we can’t help people resolve those barriers we’re still going to experience low enrollment in college,” Ysasi said.
A special board meeting will be held at noon Oct. 5 to vote in one candidate. The meeting will be open to the public and will be held on the fifth floor in the Main Building at GRCC.