GRCC graduate uses her own experiences to help fellow students



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications


April 29, 2014 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids Community College student drew on her own struggles and successes as she helped her Lakeshore peers make the most of the opportunities before them.

Azusena Ruby Nevarez has vivid memories of her first day at GRCC’s Lakeshore campus: “I was very excited but extremely tense at the same time. Being the first one in my family to attend college meant I had to set a worthy example.”

That first day went well — she even found time to make some friends — but as the end of her first semester approached, Nevarez realized she was in over her head.

“I felt overwhelmed with school and work,” she said. “It was way too much, and I was about ready to explode. My stress level was off the scale and I was very close to quitting.”

But Nevarez had built a support system of family, friends and GRCC professors, and they helped her find the confidence and strength she needed to not only pass her courses but to make the Dean’s List. She also worked as a student assistant, “helping other students get ready for their awesome experience at GRCC.”

Seeing students blossom and have a positive experience at GRCC is one of the many perks of mentoring them along their educational journey, said Lilly Anderson, associate dean of GRCC’s Lakeshore Campus.

“I am privileged to work with and mentor many students, but there are those times when you are blessed to have a special one come into your life, and I’d say that Asuzena is just that — special!” Anderson said. “It has been my pleasure to watch her grow and mature over the past few years. She has become a confident, strong and determined young woman, and I know that her future will be bright and rich with many wonderful opportunities!”

Nevarez will be among the students who are graduating at 6 p.m. May 2 in Ford Fieldhouse, 111 Lyon St. NE. She plans to major in social work, with a minor in Spanish, at Western Michigan University.

“My experience at GRCC will make the transition far easier,” she said. “Knowing my strengths and weaknesses as a student will help me prepare myself for Western.”

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.