Local scholarship makes it possible for working adult to continue degree progress at GVSU

group of 10 people standing in two rows in an art gallery with colorful paintings behind them. Woman in center in front is holding a certificate.
Corinn VanWyck, second from left in front, holds a scholarship certificate and is pictured with members of the Ludington Writers group. Members of the group changed the Carol Bennett Scholarship criteria and made it open for all ages.
Image credit - courtesy photo

Corinn VanWyck has two daughters attending Grand Valley and could not find room in the family budget to pay for her own summer classes. 

VanWyck, 55, was fine with that decision, but a Ludington Writers’ scholarship unexpectedly made it possible for her to continue her progress toward a bachelor's degree. The writers group, affiliated with the Ludington Area Center for the Arts, made its Carol Bennett Scholarship available for all ages based on a writing sample submitted for review. 

The group officially recognized VanWyck as the scholarship recipient May 10.

"I wasn't planning to take summer classes but this opportunity presented itself and will help pay for the courses I needed," VanWyck said. "I'm very grateful to the Ludington Writers for this opportunity."

VanWyck is enrolled in the LEADS program, an accelerated degree completion program for adult learners. She discovered the program while perusing the website of Grand Valley's integrative studies program with one of her daughters.

"We talked about how integrative studies would allow her to 'try on' a few different options and build a customized degree. Then I saw the LEADS program and it really spoke to me," VanWyck said.

She will earn a bachelor's degree in integrative studies and a leadership certificate. The LEADS program offers online, six-week courses with a flexible schedule suitable for working adults. 

VanWyck is a clerk for the City of Ludington's Department of Public Works, and also served as executive director of the East Lansing Art Festival and the Ludington Area Center for the Arts.

She enjoys the fast pace of LEADS and said securing a bachelor's degree will help with future career opportunities.

"Not having that degree has been a huge barrier for me, despite having more than 30 years of experience. The inability to check the box for a degree meant my level of experience was discounted," she said. "I realized I wasn't being considered for positions offering better earning potential, and I needed to invest in my future so my career opportunities are more in line with my abilities." 

After graduating from high school, VanWyck enrolled at Grand Valley in the mid-1980s, studying studio art. She also took classes at Michigan State University and Lansing Community College, earning an associate degree. "It was a struggle at the time, I had two jobs and was trying to pay rent. That was at a time when colleges were not very adult-friendly in their course offerings," she said.

The LEADS program, she said, is not only adult-friendly but offers courses and content relevant to her current job and future aspirations. "Whatever class I took, it was uncanny how it tied to my work," VanWyck said.

The summer session of LEADS begins on June 27.


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