Alumni in 10
Alena Zachery-Ross, '95
Title/Employer: Superintendent of Schools, Muskegon Heights PSAS
Degree Earned/Emphasis Area: Psychology, Special Education
1. What has your journey been since graduation?
After graduation, I taught in Detroit Public Schools and then became a School Psychologist after obtaining a Master’s Degree. I left Detroit and became a Teacher Consultant in Van Dyke schools. Later, I became an elementary principal, middle school principal, and Assistant Superintendent in that district. I was then honored to become the Superintendent of Schools for the Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System where I continue to proudly serve.
2. How has Grand Valley had a role in your journey?
Grand Valley State University has served me personally by preparing me for leadership through the Honor’s program classes, Greek Life, and especially through the Excellence in Leadership program. Professionally, I find there is often another Laker in the room when in meetings of influence, and there is always the common connection of GVSU. I know that the education and experiences I have received from Grand Valley have benefited me greatly.
3. What is your favorite Grand Valley memory?
My favorite Grand Valley memory was of all of the Campus Life activities with my sorority sisters from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. There was always activities we could participate in weekly that were sponsored by Campus Life.
4. What three words describe your experience at Grand Valley?
Phenomenal, Extraordinary, and Impactful.
5. How have you stayed involved with Grand Valley since graduation?
Since graduating with Grand Valley, I have volunteered with the Alumni Ambassador Program; I have attended many events on campus with the undergraduates of Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, and Alpha Kappa Psi. I have spoken on campus for several organizations. I serve on the GVSU Alumni Association Board of Directors and continue to give to GVSU through University Development.
6. Why are you proud to be a Laker for a Lifetime?
I am extremely proud to be a Laker for a Lifetime because I KNOW that my education has value. It is an absolutely beautiful campus. We are very progressive. We have graduates who are influential in this community and beyond, and we are a great value for the price.
7. What do you like to do for fun?
For fun, our family loves to travel and take on “new adventures!”
8. What is your favorite quote/motto to live by?
I live by the motto, “Seek first, the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you." Life is about being a living sacrifice. It's all about service above self. Seeking to first serve, and understanding that my footsteps are guided by the Lord is my motto. All other things come afterwards.
9. What motivates you?
Children are my source of motivation. My own daughter, Lena, is a ‘14 alumni and my son, Cordell (who will be graduating in December 2016 from GVSU), motivate me first. My students in Muskegon Heights motivate me to be the best each day as they deserve the ABSOLUTE BEST LEADER possible, and I believe I was sent to complete this work in the district. I have been a minister and pastor in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church for over 8 years and I believe ultimately my steps are ordered by the Lord. My husband, Quinton Ross, and I are both mission and vision aligned and are here to serve.
10. What book or movie have you recently enjoyed?
I have been reading books on leadership. My leadership team and I have read Eat That Frog and No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy, and they are both books that have helped me both personally and professionally.