By Paige Bodine
Coronavirus forcing the majority of classes online created a situation where it is even harder for a community college student to build connections and make friends.
Jessica Hay, 18, had just graduated from Northview High School and was excited about the prospect of going to Grand Rapids Community College. She has the goal to take classes that help her transfer and to ultimately get a marketing degree. She knew that she wanted to make the best of her college experience and decided that she needed to put her passion, social media and marketing, to good use by creating a platform where GRCC students could make connections.
“People can DM me their name, a picture of themselves, the program that they are in, and a short bio about themselves,” Hay said when describing how a student can get featured on the account.
GRCC Meetup, the Instagram that Hay created a mere couple of months ago, instantly gained a following. In fact, more than 300 students follow the account, and more than 90 students have been featured.
Hay’s creativity to gain more student involvement is doing unsurprisingly well, especially because she has strategies to reach even more students. Every so often, Hay goes through other GRCC driven accounts and adds other students so that they will potentially get involved in GRCC Meetup.
“With COVID I knew that it would be really hard to make friends… I am just trying to get as many people as involved as I can,” Hay said.
Hay has a unique drive for including more students and giving them an opportunity to connect with others. She in particular wanted to shatter the false stereotypes about attending a community college.
“There is a pretty big stigma about making friends at community college. I saw all of these other college accounts [about making friends] so I thought I could start one up,” Hay said.
This stigma was one that Hay was determined to combat and inspired her to try her best to connect with people. When reflecting on her own experiences, Hay said she has made friends through the account.
Despite the disappointment of COVID-19, Hay has shown how to make the most of the college experience. She has a positive perspective and an ambition to make a difference in the GRCC community.
“I even made a couple of friends through that [GRCC meetup],” Hay said. “We actually started a study group and met up at local coffee shops.”