By Connor MacLachlan
It was an engaged and invested audience in the Applied Technology Center’s auditorium on Tuesday afternoon as the second candidate of four applying for the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at Grand Rapids Community College hosted a public session.
The featured candidate, Jacqueline El-Sayed, has been serving as vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Marygrove College in Detroit. Originally from Lansing, El-Sayed emphasized her familiarity with education in the state of Michigan.
Upon being introduced to the audience, El-Sayed was eager to dive into topics she is passionate about. But first, she wanted to introduce herself by explaining how her career has led up to this point.
She began her career on the line at a General Motors plant where she was promoted to foreman at just 18 years old. It was at General Motors where, while working as a manufacturing engineer, El-Sayed decided to get her master’s degree. General Motors then put her in front of a classroom, and she fell in love with the teaching aspect of her new job. In order to continue her new passion for education, she would need to complete her doctorate degree, and she did just that. El-Sayed then joined her alma-mater, Kettering University, where she would spend 18 years as a faculty member working up through other administrative roles.
Some passions and points of emphasis made by El-Sayed when she was addressing her approach on education included intentionality, experiential learning and measuring success in the classroom.
Experiential learning was the underlying theme in her presentation, and the theory of experiential learning that she believes in.
“You don’t learn from experiential learning” she said. “You learn from reflecting on experiential learning, reflecting on experience…. High impact practices are really key to all students… It especially helps students from diverse backgrounds.”
She moved through her presentation, with slides filled with graphs displaying some differences in certain demographics in education. As she continued to emphasize how important individual student’s success should be to educators, she stated, “As our students go, so goes the community.” This is El-Sayed’s way to measure success in the classroom.
Before opening up to questions from the audience, El-Sayed ended the presentation by emphasizing experiential learning one last time, stating that she really believes in “broad constructionist learning environments.”
After a few questions from audience members, The Collegiate had a chance to catch up with El-Sayed.
Upon asking her the one thing she would want students to know about her is, she did not hesitate.
“I care about them a lot,” she said. “Really making (education) meaningful, and seeing our students succeed is key.”
She continued, explaining what she believes to be the number one problem facing college students.
“The cost of education is a huge factor,” she said. “It’s a hindrance to have it be so expensive.”
She added that she realizes that this problem is constantly on the minds of college students everywhere.
Concerning the issue of student safety on campus, specifically focusing on how the school can prevent any sort of gun violence, El-Sayed fell back on her experience of working with the commanding officer of the Michigan State Police.
“Work with the police in the area,” she said. “Have some discussions with the police in the area to find out some of the best techniques or strategies to protect our students and just start by voicing that it is a priority.”
The next session, featuring provost candidate Brian Knetl, will be today, July 17 at 2:15 p.m. at the Applied Technology Center at GRCC in the auditorium, room 168.