GRCC gives Venezuelan student chance to grow in academics, leadership



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications


April 27, 2015 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. A Venezuelan student found much more than the money-saving option she expected when she enrolled at Grand Rapids Community College.

Carla Villasana Acosta began at GRCC after completing English-As-a-Second-Language classes shortly after moving to the United States.

“I was unfamiliar with the concept of community colleges and transferring at the time, yet I decided to give it a try after considering the financial advantages it included,” she said.

“As time went by, however, I discovered GRCC had so much more to offer than what I had first expected. GRCC became a place that allowed me to challenge myself academically while being involved in the college community as a student leader and employee.”

Villasana Acosta is an active member of GRCC’s International Student Organization, serving as vice president. She also was a “Student Ambassador,” leading campus tours and helping with orientation during the summer. She has completed the Honors Program and serves as an English tutor in GRCC’s writing lab. She is a reporter for The Collegiate and has worked in GRCC’s Counseling and Career Center for two years.

“I remember first meeting Carla her first semester at GRCC,” said Katie Hughes, an associate professor in the department of experiential learning and ISO adviser. “She was quiet and a bit shy but determined. I’ve watched her blossom and become more confident in herself in the last couple years.”

Hughes said Villasana Acosta’s writing skills have been especially helpful to ISO in promoting events.

“Carla is a joy to work with.” Hughes said. “One minute she is on task and serious, and the next minute she says something unexpected that makes you laugh.”

Villasana Acosta received a Cesar E. Chavez Hispanic Scholarship as well as scholarships from The Grand Rapids Press and the Dean’s Scholars Program. She will receive an Associate in Arts degree during commencement at 7 p.m. May 1 in the Van Andel Arena, 130 Fulton St. W. After graduation, she plans to study international relations at Grand Valley State University.

“My experience at GRCC as a student, a leader and a student employee opened many doors for me to grow as a person,” she said. “Moreover, I was able to learn more about the world and the new culture I am living in at the same time. All the knowledge, skills and connections I acquired throughout these two years will be truly beneficial for the rest of my academic and professional paths.”

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.