Alumni Giving Spring 2017

Alumni legacy creates scholarship

Story by Amy Bross, ’00
Photo by Bernadine Carey-Tucker

Georgette “Tété” Zainea’s story is one of determination.

She was a first-generation American whose parents were from Syria. Zainea had to drop out of school and had an arranged marriage as a teenager. Her husband died when she was young, so she raised seven children on her own, earned a GED, and made a commitment to her children’s education by ensuring they all graduated from college.

Her family honored her by establishing the Georgette “Tété” Zainea Memorial Pathway Endowed Scholarship.

About the founders

Georgette's son: Mitri Zainea
History/English/Secondary Education, 1974

Georgette's daughter: Rose Zainea-Wieten
Elementary Education-Special Education, 1978

Georgette's granddaughter: Meghan Wieten-Scott
Public Administration, 2006

Describe one of the best traits about Georgette.

Meghan: Tété had the most generous heart of anyone I have ever known. She cared so much about her family, and she would do anything to ensure they were successful and provided for.

Why was it so important to her that you all graduated from college?

Rose: She had an eighth-grade education when she was forced to enter the workforce. She wanted nothing more than to ensure her children did not follow in that path.

Mitri: She wanted to ensure that we would be able to enjoy our work, provide for ourselves and contribute to society.

Why did you choose a Grand Valley education?

Rose: Grand Valley was the most financially feasible choice for me. I had limited funds and GVSU was pretty much in my backyard. The programs offered in the mid-70s were varied and interesting. I wanted to be a special education teacher, and Grand Valley’s program was one of the best around.

Where do you currently work?

Meghan: Since graduation, I have worked in the nonprofit sector. I have spent the past seven years working for the national nonprofit Blue Star Families, an organization that provides support and morale programs to military families.

Rose: I am the executive director of the Coopersville Area Chamber of Commerce. I took that position after retiring from Coopersville Area Public Schools as a special education teacher for 35 years.

Mitri: I am a retired elementary school principal. Before working in administration, I taught middle school English.

How did Grand Valley help prepare you for your future?

Meghan: Through both my public administration and women and gender studies classes, my professors encouraged me to think critically and also to be empathetic towards others.

Rose: Grand Valley gave me encouragement to follow my dream. Financially, I was able to acquire assistance as well as a work-study job, where I worked at Lincoln School as a para-pro/office aide.

woman, man standing

Siblings Rose Zainea-Wieten and Mitri Zainea, along with Rose’s daughter, Meghan Wieten-Scott, created a scholarship to honor their mother, Georgette “Tété” Zainea.

What is your favorite memory of Grand Valley?

Meghan: Graduation day was especially memorable. I worked in the Office of the President for most of my time at the university. Being able to hug so many of the people I worked with as I crossed the stage to receive my diploma, including President Murray, who knew me personally, was the icing on the cake after four great years.

Rose: I think my best Laker pride moment was when I watched our two children graduate from Grand Valley. We always told our children to do what they love, because they will be doing it the rest of their lives.

Mitri: Having coffee at 7 a.m. and watching the sunrise in the second floor commons in Lake Michigan Hall.

headshot woman

Meghan Wieten-Scott


How has being a member of the Laker community shaped or changed you?

Meghan: I entered college already having a strong sense of responsibility to my community and others. Being a Laker helped to polish and solidify that sense of responsibility as my driving force in life. I had professors who challenged me to think outside the box. I had mentors who encouraged me to expand my horizons and seek opportunities. I had friends and sorority sisters who supported me, and continue to do so today.

Why have you chosen to give back financially to Grand Valley?

Rose: I am blessed to be able to encourage others to meet their educational goals and follow their dreams. I was raised to give back, and share my time, talents and treasures with others.

Meghan: My parents always led by example by giving their time and money to things they cared about, and I have followed that example throughout my life. I want other students to have the opportunity to have the same experience as I did in my years as both a student and now as an alumna.

What impact do you think this scholarship will make?

Meghan: I hope it will help ease the financial burden of funding a college education, and it will encourage the beneficiaries to think outside the box, seek out ways to further impact their community, and carry on what they learned at Grand Valley to make a larger, societal impact.

Mitri: It is my hope that students will be able to receive support and encouragement as a result of this scholarship. That’s all that matters.

Would you encourage other alumni to give back?

Rose: Absolutely! We started at home with our own children, telling them that even donating $5 a month makes a difference in someone’s life. Giving back is what life is all about.

What do you want your Laker Effect to be?

Rose: My Laker Effect will be encouraging others to follow their dreams!

Creating a scholarship

Scholarships help ensure that the best and brightest students can access a Grand Valley education and enrich our campus. Nine out of 10 Grand Valley students need financial support from donors like the Zaineas to complete their education.

Contact: Briette Bryant ’08, (616) 331-6529, [email protected]

Kevin Yeomans, ’15, (616) 331-6527, [email protected]

Page last modified May 25, 2017