GVFaces: Shawn Jenkins

October 31, 2023 (Volume 47, Number 5)
Article by Samantha Drougel

Shawn Jenkins in black sweater

Shawn Jenkins is the university’s new director of Central/West Michigan.

Shawn Jenkins is the university’s new director of Central/West Michigan, a role that opens doors for more community college students, as well as builds community relationships within those regions. 

“I work with both the community colleges and GVSU to create academic and support partnerships that benefit transfer students in the form of university access," she said.

For example, a partnership was established in July with Jackson College to bring GVSU’s nursing program to Jackson. Part of Jenkins' role includes managing office staff and enhancing campus relationships. This is the first of many relationships Jenkins has made as she oversees community college partnerships and services in 15 counties across Central and West Michigan.

“Although new to this role, I have already met students at community colleges who had not heard of GVSU, and are interested in learning more," she said.

Jenkins said she believes in eliminating the barriers many students have in community colleges. As a product of Muskegon Community College, she said she understands the struggles of transferring to a university. Jenkins' passion for education stems from her time as a student and hardships she faced as a Black woman.

“I am an advocate at heart,” said Jenkins. “My passion for higher education started during my undergraduate years, I experienced racism, not at this institution, but it happened in my first year of college and that experience was enough for me to fight for students to not have that experience.” 

She has been fighting for students for 28 years at Grand Valley. 

She is a doctoral student at Central Michigan University, with her dissertation focused on transfer students. Jenkins earned an education specialist degree from Grand Valley. Her first position was at the Muskegon Community Regional Center, helping students reach a four-year degree program. That job evolved to assist transfer students in the Muskegon, Holland and Grand Rapids areas, before she moved into her current role.

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This article was last edited on October 31, 2023 at 9:21 a.m.

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