exterior photo of Northwestern Michigan College University Center

Traverse City alumni say NMC University Center is benefit to northern Michigan

Grand Valley graduates who attended classes or earned degrees in Traverse City demonstrate the impact of the University Center at Northwestern Michigan College, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Grand Valley was a founding partner when the NMC University Center opened in 1995. Six universities (Central Michigan, Davenport, Ferris State, Grand Valley State, Michigan State and Western Michigan) offer students opportunities to earn certificates and degrees without leaving northern Michigan.

Simone Jonaitis, executive director of the Center for Adult and Continuing Studies, said, since 1995, there are more than 1,300 students who have taken classes at the University Center and earned Grand Valley degrees.

"Our participation at the University Center and the breadth of programming we’ve offered over the years has had an incredible impact in Traverse City and in the region as a whole," Jonaitis said. "We have graduated educators, social workers, environmentalists, small business owners and a myriad of health care workers. I believe that GVSU’s commitment to northern Michigan — creating access to public higher education — has made a difference in the lives of learners and their families."

headshot of John Parker Der-Boghossian
John Parker Der-Boghossian is the chief diversity officer at Normandale Community College in Minnesota.
Image credit - courtesy photo
Lara Gavaldon is standing in a white lab coat with a stethoscope in this photo
Lara Gavaldon is a physician assistant in Benzonia.
Image credit - courtesy photo

A native of northern Michigan, John Parker Der-Boghossian earned a GVSU degree in integrative studies in 2007 and later a Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Minnesota. Now the chief diversity officer at Normandale Community College in Minnesota, Der-Boghossian said being able to create his own degree program has proved invaluable to his career.

"Moving into the equity field, it's been fantastic to lean into my knowledge of history, sociology and environmental science from my degree program," he said. "In my work now, I'm bringing diverse expertise in public policy, education, race and accessibility; I bring this varied background to each situation."

Der-Boghossian served as editor of NMC's student newspaper and said he enjoyed that aspect of campus life. 

Lara Gavaldon started classes at NMC in 2012 and earned a bachelor's degree in integrative studies from Grand Valley and a master's degree in physician assistant studies. She works in Benzonia as a physician assistant and said the University Center is a benefit to the entire northern Michigan community.

"NMC is an important part of the community because it allows students to pursue college degrees while continuing to live in northern Michigan," Gavaldon said. "This, in turn, allows for those students to be able to give back to their community once they graduate because many choose to stay and work in the area."

Learn more about the GVSU degree programs offered in northern Michigan online at gvsu.edu/traverse.


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