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GVSU to celebrate graduates December 10

  • Kate Pew Wolters, president of the Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation, will deliver the commencement speech.
  • Christo T. Panopoulos will receive an honorary degree.

Posted on December 05, 2016

Nearly 1,000 Grand Valley State University students will participate in commencement December 10 at Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids.

Students will hear an address from Kate Pew Wolters, president of the Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation. The foundation awards grants to nonprofit organizations that emphasize the arts, education, social justice, or people with disabilities. Pew Wolters chairs the Steelcase Foundation and Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, and is a member of Grand Valley's Board of Trustees, among other boards. President Bill Clinton appointed her to the National Council on Disability in 1994. 

Grand Valley Commencement Ceremony
Saturday, December 10, 10 a.m.
Van Andel Arena, downtown Grand Rapids
The ceremony will live stream at

MEDIA NOTE: Skybox 101B is reserved for media. The box offers a mult box and an elevated, unobstructed view of the podium and platform.


The Grand Valley Alumni Association will present the Young Alumni Award to Cory Jackson, nutrition and wellness director for YMCA of Western North Carolina. He received a bachelor's degree in public and nonprofit administration from Grand Valley in 2012. Jackson earned a $160,000 grant to expand the YMCA's mobile nutrition fleet; the program now includes a food pantry and three mobile units. 

During the ceremony, Christo T. Panopoulos will receive an honorary degree. Panopoulos immigrated to the U.S. from southern Greece in 1955 when he was 19. Following service in the U.S. Army, Panopoulos moved to Grand Rapids and managed a hair salon. He grew that business into Salon Enterprises, which includes cosmetology schools, Panopoulos Salons and Haircuts Plus Salons. He serves on the board of the Grand Valley University Foundation.

Notable student

Nine years ago, 16-year-old Bryce Gould was involved in a car accident and he sustained a traumatic brain injury. During a time when he should have been thinking about college, he was learning how to walk and talk again. With a desire to help disabled individuals, he came to Grand Valley and majored in sociology. He will graduate on December 10 and has secured a job at Indian Trails in Grand Rapids, a life enrichment center that helps individuals with disabilities. Gould is available for interviews and can be reached at (616) 490-7905 or

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