FORUM Vol. 40, No. 20; February 8, 2016


Student receives tuition assistance from Make-A-Wish Michigan

Pictured from left are Thomas J. Haas, Randall Wallace and Renae Wallace at a February ceremony marking Wallace's Make-A-Wish Michigan wish: tuition assistance to Grand Valley.

Photo by Amanda Pitts. Pictured from left are Thomas J. Haas, Randall Wallace and Renae Wallace at a February ceremony marking Wallace's Make-A-Wish Michigan wish: tuition assistance to Grand Valley.

When Grand Valley student Randall Wallace was granted a wish from Make-A-Wish Michigan, he knew exactly what to ask for: tuition assistance to help him pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. 

At 5 years old, Wallace was diagnosed with a congenital cardiac condition. Now, at age 18, Wallace hopes to become a pediatric cardiologist in order to help children like himself. He is double-majoring in pre-medical studies and biomedical engineering.

Wallace, a native of Kingsley, was honored at a celebration in the Kirkhof Center February 2. He was joined by Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas; Jennifer Connery, chief operation officer for Make-A-Wish Michigan; and Donald Malcolm, a pediatric cardiologist at University of Michigan who has treated Wallace since birth.

Malcolm has performed four open-heart surgeries on Wallace. The first one took place when Wallace was 3 weeks old, the second when he was 17. "What makes Randall remarkable is not just that he endured all the surgeries and procedures, but how he faced them. He is calm, optimistic and fearless," said Malcolm. 

President Haas agreed with Malcolm. "Randall is an inspiration, and we're glad that he chose to become part of the Grand Valley family. He is a Laker, which means he will take what he learns here and go out into the world and make a difference," said Haas. 

Wallace completed 56 credits during his senior year of high school before he started his first semester at Grand Valley in fall 2015. He said he is thrilled to be able to start his education at Grand Valley, and hopes to eventually attend medical school at University of Michigan. "It's only natural, since that's where all my surgeries took place," Wallace said. 

Wallace's mother, Renae Wallace, said her son has been granted the gift of higher education, which he will continue to use for the rest of his life. 

"He missed many days of school because of multiple surgeries, but he worked hard and told me when he was 16 that he wanted to become a pediatric cardiologist and help kids like himself," Renae said.