Trimell Hawkins, a professional chef and Grand Rapids Community College alumni, is the first recipient of the inaugural Young Alumni Award.
The award celebrates alumni in their post-college life, as it recognizes students ages 40 or younger for their community service, civic duty, or excellence in their own chosen profession.
Hawkins recognizes the value of the education he received at GRCC.
“It’s the hands-on experience,” Hawkins said. “I mean actually getting to delve into your occupation, instead of using a textbook with a teacher talking. That hands-on experience goes a long way.”
Hawkins graduated from GRCC’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education in 2015 and is currently executive chef at the Portico Restaurant in the Canopy by Hilton Hotel in Grand Rapids.
Prior to attending GRCC, he has previously worked in the fast food industry.
“I worked in lots of chain restaurants,” Hawkins said. “I love to cook, but when I realized this was it for me, I decided I was going to go back to school and get a culinary arts degree and take it to the next level.”
For Hawkins, being open to your learning environment is one of the most productive things you can do. “Make the most out of it,” Hawkins said.
“There are so many people that have gone to colleges where they have spent way more money than I spent for my education and they are trying to climb the ladder, whereas I took what was given to me at better prices. I think it is the same experience. I don’t understand the stigma. I think being a sponge and staying receptive to what they are offering at the college (is best). They are giving you an abundance of knowledge.”
Hawkins takes great pride in his time at GRCC and has used what he learned at the school in his culinary career.
Prior to his time at the college, he served with the US Marines.
“2004 is when I went in,” Hawkins said. “My occupation was heavy equipment operator. A lot of dirt pushing and moving things. Then I ended up back in Michigan, where it was off to the races as far as getting back to life and I decided to go to GRCC to further my education.”
Hawkins worked hard, and says he truly benefited from the quality of education offered at GRCC. He is a prime example of the kind of student alumni that the inaugural Young Alumni award seeks to honor.