Cook Leadership Academy

CLA collage


Cook Leadership Academy Fellows
Where Emerging Leaders Prepare to Build Our Future

Welcome to the Cook Leadership Academy! The Hauenstein Center’s Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy is a leader development program for 60+ undergraduate and graduate students during the academic year. The program is co-curricular and cross-disciplinary — this year representing 52 different areas of study — and it provides numerous opportunities for student fellows to develop leadership excellence.

Cook Leadership Academy Fellows — our students — are put through a rigorous curriculum of training, assessment, and practice designed to instill leadership excellence. Fellows are admitted to the Cook Leadership Academy for one or more years. Each applicant must meet the criteria of high academic achievement, active involvement in the campus community, dedication to the public good, a passion to lead, and a commitment to personal growth.

Through observation, mentoring, and practice, the fellows learn the behaviors and attitudes of ethical, effective leaders through more than 70 contact hours per fellow per year.
Our fellows gain access to a myriad of opportunities to advance their leadership skills. They…

  • Explore leadership with a cohort of more than 60 diverse, highly motivated student fellows during the academic year.
  • Build mentor relationships with community leaders from business, higher education, nonprofit, and government organizations.
  • Learn from and interact with accomplished local leaders through our Wheelhouse Talks speaker series.
  • Reflect on their own qualities as an authentic leader based on Strengths Finder, DiSC, Reflected Best Self, Emotional Intelligence, or mindfulness workshops.
  • Engage in valuable public speaking training in our Leader Lab as well as through Jennifer Maxson & Associates.
  • Deepen their understanding in our “Grounded Leadership” coaching with Dr. Dev Butler from Thinc, Inc.
  • Pursue intensive leadership development through service learning projects, Washington Campus Week, and other high-impact initiatives.
  • Attend hallmark events through the Hauenstein Center and meet nationally recognized speakers. Our fellows have been face-to-face with four U.S. presidents, one U.S. Supreme Court Justice, two vice presidents, six first ladies, five secretaries of state, seven state governors, numerous business and nonprofit executives, multiple Pulitzer Prize winning writers, the world’s most decorated academic, a Grammy Award winner, and a national championship basketball coach.
  • Network and participate in vibrant downtown Grand Rapids through partnerships with the Gerald R. Ford Presidential FoundationLibrary, and Museum; the Economics Club of Grand Rapids; the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan; the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce; and our accomplished alumni.

Apply To the Cook Leadership Academy here.

Click here if you would like to learn more about the Cook Leadership Academy, or please contact Chadd Dowding at or (616) 331-7087.


Leadership Fellows in the 2018-19 Cook Leadership Academy

Alex Agbabian – Film and Video & Spanish

Alex Agbabian is a junior at Grand Valley State University studying Film & Video and Spanish. He has been involved with the student organizations Spanish Club and Colleges Against Cancer on campus at Grand Valley while also being an active volunteer through the Community Service Learning Center. In the future, Alex hopes to be working on screen or off screen in the film/video process, as he understands the empowering and life-changing potential of a visual story. He enjoys playing basketball, cooking, hiking, watching movies, making music, reading, and writing outside of the classroom. Alex believes that, through CLA, he will develop the skills and experiences necessary to not only enrich his life, but also the lives of others.

Julia Ahrns – Allied Health Sciences

Julia is a senior in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University. She is pursuing a degree in Allied Health Sciences with a minor in Biology. Very passionate about social justice, Julia is an intern in the Division of Inclusion and Equity working with student organizations and the special projects team. Julia is a third-year Resident Assistant for Winter and Secchia Halls on Grand Valley’s downtown campus and helped open Holton-Hooker Living and Learning Center for the past two years. Additionally, she has worked as a student assistant at the Frederik Meijer Honors College since she was a sophomore and was an orientation assistant this past summer. Through her work with college students, Julia has decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Student Affairs and Higher Education following graduation and hopes to learn more about the administration positions within Higher Education. In the Cook Leadership Academy, Julia is looking forward to connecting with mentors and furthering her leadership before graduation.

Nigel Armstrong – Electrical Engineering

Nigel is a junior in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. He graduated from Howell High School, in Howell, Michigan, during 2016, where he was raised by a loving and supportive family since he was 7. He is the Chief Engineer of the Formula SAE Racing Club, an active member of the Swim and Dive Club, and a member of a couple honors societies on campus, including Tau Beta Pi. He is currently employed as a manufacturing controls systems co-op student at General Motors in Wyoming, Michigan. Following graduation in August of 2020, he will be entering the U.S. Navy as a nuclear prototype instruction officer for a 5 year officer commission. He is extremely enthusiastic for the programs that the Cook Leadership Academy has to offer and hopes to expand his leadership skills to lead the future.

Douglas Ayers – Nursing

Douglas J. Ayers, was born and raised in Saline, MI. He comes from a family of 6, where he is the second eldest brother of four boys. He is a Mexican American studying Nursing at Grand Valley State University. He is actively involved in the Hispanic community on campus, through being a part of the very first Laker Familia 2014 cohort, followed by 3 years of Laker Familia E-Board. His first two years at Grand Valley, Doug became a student athlete by walking on the coed cheerleading team. In 2016 the team achieved the universities first national title in competitive cheer. Doug is also part of KCONs Student Nurses Association where he gains leadership experience as a cohort delegate and as a BTN committee member. As Doug continues his journey towards a BSN, he plans to gain work experience at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital after graduation working as a registered nurse. He then plans return back to school for a doctorate in nursing becoming a nurse practitioner (DNP) with a focus on community health. As a Hispanic male nurse, Doug wants to not only advocate for the Hispanic population, but all people of color as a whole.

Madi Barnes – Advertising and Public Relations

Madison Barnes is a senior in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University majoring in Advertising/Public relations (PR emphasis), with a minor in Political Science. A native of Columbus, Ohio, and a graduate of Olentangy High School, she is the daughter of two public school teachers, Jody and Alan, and the older sister to Tyler. Madison has been playing lacrosse since she was eight years old and is a member of the varsity lacrosse team at GVSU. Outside of lacrosse, she is on the executive board of Grand Valley’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as the social media coordinator, a member of PRSSA, and was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi and the political science honor fraternity Pi Sigma Alpha. Madison currently works as the student writer for GVSU University Communications. She has previously worked as a campaign assistant for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, interned on a gubernatorial campaign, and researched the role of nonprofit organizations in disaster relief as a Mawby Undergraduate Fellow. She was also one of four students in the Ad/PR program selected to represent GVSU at The Challenge for Emerging Leaders workshop in Chicago in 2017, sponsored by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at the University of Alabama. After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree while working as a graduate assistant in a collegiate athletic department in a communications/marketing or student-athlete development role. In her free time, Madison enjoys reading, thrifting, writing about hockey for her blog, bullet journaling, discovering new music and podcasts to listen to, and watching the sports teams from her beloved home state of Ohio. Madison is passionate about social justice, education, and ethical and effective leadership, and is thrilled to continue to develop these passions as a second-year CLA fellow.

Nathan Benson – Computer Science

From Grand Haven, Michigan, Nathan is a senior majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Business. He is also apart of the Collegiate Entrepreneur's Organization (CEO) working with like-minded individuals to learn how to be successful in the business world. Nathan is passionate about working on creative projects and encouraging others to realize their true creative potential. He believes anyone and everyone can be successful doing what they love if they put forth the necessary effort. In his free time Nathan loves traveling, watching and playing sports, as well as meeting new people to establish relationships that will last a lifetime. Now a CLA fellow, he is ready to learn and become a more developed leader.

Amanuel Birhane – Biomedical Science

Amanuel is a senior studying Biomedical Science with a minor in Business. Originally from Africa, he had been in Ethiopia for a couple years before he immigrated to the U.S on August 2014 with the hope of furthering his education. His biggest mission in life is to make a positive change in the world by raising a principle-centered leaders, because he believes that everything falls and rises on leadership. He also believes that one's success level is determined by his/her ability to lead others effectively. Thus, he aspires to be a great and mindful leader. As a result, he spends countless hours to improve his leadership skills. Besides leadership, however, he enjoys reading books on economic issues.

Angel Bista – International Relations

Angel Bista is a third-year student at Grand Valley, enrolled in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, and a newly initiated member of Phi Kappa Phi. Angel is currently pursuing a degree in International Relations with a minor in Writing. She aspires to travel the world after graduation, applying her passion for international politics and crafting compelling narratives in the field of global journalism. She hopes to ultimately work with the U.N in the future, engaged in diplomacy and advocating for global citizenship.

She is currently fluent in three languages, while pursuing the study of Japanese, Arabic and Korean in her undergraduate years. Angel recently returned from a semester abroad in the coastal town of Beppu, Japan, deepening her understanding and appreciation of the Japanese language and culture. In continuation of her linguistic studies and zeal for travel, she will be studying in South Korea this upcoming summer. Apart from travel and linguistics, Angel’s passions include Margaret Atwood novels, foreign language films, poetry, and serving victims of domestic abuse in the YWCA’s women’s shelter.

She is thrilled for her second year in the Cook Leadership Academy, which has instilled in her a deep-rooted appreciation for the role of mentorships, community engagement, and peer collaboration in the pathway to ethical, effective leadership.

Eric Brink – Spanish

Eric is a third-year student at Grand Valley State University majoring in Spanish with minors in Chinese and Criminal Justice. He is from Alpena, Michigan and attended Alpena High School where he played an integral part in the success of the school’s FIRST Robotics team and graduated in the top 10% of his class. Since arriving at Grand Valley in the fall of 2016, Eric has focused on expanding his leadership skills through community education programs he co-facilitated with staff from the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center at GVSU. These programs included hosting two Teach-In sessions, giving presentations at student worker staff trainings, as well as facilitating a student panel on life after high school at the 2018 BAMM GSA Summit. This year, Eric is a co-facilitator of the First Year Queer Alliance where he serves as an educator and mentor for first year students in the LGBT community. Aside from being an activist in the LGBT community, Eric has a passion for learning languages and has vowed to be a lifelong learner by pursuing a career that combines his passion with his interest in the criminal justice field. In his free time, he enjoys building and fixing things, doing puzzles, and working out. Eric is looking forward to his first year as a fellow in the Cook Leadership Academy, as well as the many opportunities to get connected with leaders at a local level and beyond.

Selena Brown – Special Education & Elementary Education

Selena is a senior at Grand Valley in the Frederick Meijer Honors College. She is a double major in Special Education with an emphasis in Emotional Impairments and Cognitive Impairments as well as a major in Elementary Education. She is originally from the East Side of Michigan from a small town named Manchester. At Grand Valley, Selena serves as the President of the Council for Exceptional Children and a member of Phi Kappa Phi. Additionally, she serves as the President-Elect for the Michigan Council for Exceptional Children student board. With her degree, Selena hopes to serve as a teacher for adults with intellectual disabilities in a post high-school transitions program where she would facilitate learning of adaptive behaviors skills in order to transition individuals into independent adulthood. She is extremely passionate about the inclusion of individuals with disabilities and hopes to one day open a business that employs individuals with disabilities in order to close the gap of unemployment within this population.

Miranda Bryan – Political Science & Religious Studies

Miranda is a junior with majors in Political Science and Religious Studies and a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She attended Lake Orion High School, where her passions for public speaking and leadership were honed. She competed in forensics public speaking for seven years, as well as participated in many theatre productions. This passion is now reflected in her participation in Grand Valley’s Model United Nations team, of which she is the president. She is also a member or Triota, the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies honors society. Miranda studied abroad in China this past summer and loved it enough to consider moving to Shanghai. She loves animals and the idea that the world is a beautiful place that needs to be explored, protected, and transformed into its best self; she wishes to pursue a career in government in which she can do just that, focusing on international diplomacy and opportunities for girls and women who are in disadvantaged situations. In the meantime, she tutors for the Political Science department. Miranda wants to thank her family for forming her into the person she is today: her parents Tim and Melissa, and her brothers Mitchell and Alec. She is ecstatic to be a Cook Leadership Fellow and cannot wait to see how her leadership skills will be elevated during this time.

Trevor Bryan – Advertising and Public Relations

Trevor Bryan is a senior at Grand Valley State University pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Advertising and Public Relations with a Minor in Sociology. Nothing brings him greater joy than using strategic thinking and creative problem-solving in his work in community relations, social media management, and fostering social change. Trevor enjoys working in Promotions of GVSU's Office of Student Life representing the university he loves through digital engagement. Humor and the power of comedy keep his life full of wonder and possibility, with quick wit and exaggerated expressions making conversations with Trevor an interpersonal communication extravaganza. He loves being a part of Grand Valley's Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter and serving as President. Putting work into launching a diversity initiative and winning national fundraising competitions, Trevor is so thankful to PRSSA for sharpening his mind and building his character. He is looking forward to graduating in April 2019, and is confident that his final year will be his brightest.

Alan Carter – Advertising and Public Relations

Coming from Royal Oak, Michigan, Alan is a senior at Grand Valley State University and a first-year fellow in the Cook Leadership Academy. He is finishing his last year studying Advertising and Public Relations and with a minor in International Business. As a lover of international education, Alan studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain for his sophomore year as a Mark A. Murray Scholar. Upon his return to Grand Valley, he began working as a Study Abroad Peer Adviser within the Barbara H. Padnos International Center advocating for international education and assisting the university’s visiting international students. Additionally, he founded an organization alongside two other students called Bringing Together the World and is currently serving as president for his second year. The organization satisfies a need for international and domestic student networking and collaboration. After the first semester, the organization was honored by Student Life with the Campus Engagement Award and Best New Organization Award. Lastly, he is a Resident Assistant for the North C, Hills and Frey Living Center Community for the second year in a row, dedicated to the enrichment and support for the current and future leaders.

Connor Cavallaro – Management

Connor Cavallaro is seeking a bachelor’s degree in Management with an emphasis in Information Systems from the Seidman College of Business. Connor is entering this junior year and is excited to be a part of the Cook Leadership Academy, he looks forwarding to networking with the members of the Grand Rapids community. He was born and raised in Brighton, MI where he was the captain of the high school basketball team, played on the baseball team, and worked two jobs as a Gordon Food Service sales associate and a waiter at a local restaurant.

Connor is passionate about serving others and volunteers around the Grand Rapids while at school. He is also involved in ESSU; an organization focused on those interested in ERP/SAP, and he is also in Alpha Tau Omega; a leadership fraternity on campus where he has held two executive board positions. Through Alpha Tau Omega he has walked over 300 miles over the previous two spring breaks, raising money for Multiple Sclerosis. The past five years the organization has raised over $220,000.

Outside of school Connor enjoys traveling, mountain biking, fly fishing, cooking, reading, and spending time with family and friends. This past summer Connor interned at The Dow Chemical Company as an Information Systems Intern. His plans for next school year include studying abroad to expand his view of the world and to build upon on his leadership skills.

Douglas Chambers III – Nursing & Spanish

Douglas Chambers III is a fifth-year student at Grand Valley studying Nursing and Spanish. He is a passionate, energetic, caring individual who is always willing to speak up, listen, or help out. He values open-mindedness and enjoys settings where people can enjoy the freedom of discussion. Douglas was a Resident Assistant for 3 years in the International House and South Apartments on the GVSU campus and is currently a Resident Assistant Downtown in Secchia Hall. He is the Student Supervisor for the Grand Valley Central Housing Office and President of La Tertulia - GVSU's Spanish Club. His favorite activities include learning languages, science, art, going on random adventures, cooking, and thinking of ways to improve the world. Some of his interests include plants and nature, meditation and mindfulness, sustainability and environmental issues, world news, and healthy living/eating. He aspires to become a DNP and travel the world, helping out those who cannot receive medical treatment. After that, he hopes to settle in his favorite country and build a community of like-minded individuals dedicated to saving the earth, living a healthy life, and helping others around them.

Marlaina Cole – International Relations & Global Studies and Social Impact

Marlaina is a sophomore at Grand Valley State University and a first-year fellow in the Cook Leadership Academy. She is a member of the Frederik Meijer College, dual-majoring in International Relations and Global Studies and Social Impact. At Grand Valley, Marlaina works at the Padnos International Center as a Peer Adviser who helps other students plan their study abroad. She is dedicated to spreading the knowledge of study abroad and promoting global curiosity and open-mindedness. With this in mind, Marlaina is planning on spending the next academic year in Japan as a Barbara H. Padnos International Scholar. After her return, she is planning on utilizing her experience abroad to assist her as a Bringing Together the World (BTW) member and an ELS Conversation Partner for international students. She is thrilled to further develop her leadership skills and facilitate relationships with fellow students and community members through the Cook Leadership Academy.

Kellie Corbett – English & French

Kellie Corbett is a 4th-year student at Grand Valley State University, originally from Toledo, Ohio. She has a double major in English and French, with a minor in applied linguistics. After graduation in the spring, she hopes to spend time abroad teaching EFL (English as a foreign language). In returning home, she hopes to get her masters in education, teach ESL in the United States, and eventually work in bilingual education reform. After many years of study and two summers spent in Annecy, France, Kellie considers herself very close to fluent in French. The first summer was spent studying abroad, and the second was spent interning at l’École Bilingue D’Haute Savoie. On campus, Kellie is a 3rd-year Resident Assistant in Stafford living center. She also works as a User Experience student at the service desk of Mary Idema Pew library, and as a French tutor. In her free time, Kellie enjoys beach adventures, spontaneously buying plane/train tickets, and making people laugh.

Ashley Eschbach – Higher Education, M.Ed. – College Student Affairs Leadership

Ashley Eschbach is a current second-year graduate student in the College Student Affairs Leadership Program at Grand Valley State University. Ashley earned a Bachelor’s Degree in 2015 focusing on American History from Young Harris College. During her time at Young Harris, she was involved in Greek Life, Student Leadership, First Year Orientation, and Campus Activities. At Grand Valley, she works as a graduate assistant in the Brooks College of Integrative Learning Advising Office and as an intern at Grand Rapids Community College in their Student Life Office. This past summer, Ashley spent her 6th summer working at camp, which is her favorite thing to do and where her passion lies. After she graduates in the spring, she hopes to get a full-time job in Camp Administration.

Hannah Everett –Masters of Public Administration

Hannah is currently in her final semester of the Master of Public Administration program, with a concentration in nonprofit leadership. She has worked and volunteered within the nonprofit sector for the last 8 years, primarily in fundraising and development. Upon graduating, she hopes to further advance her career within the sector and serve as either a program director or an executive director of a nonprofit organization.

Hannah is a full-time graduate student and full-time employee. In her limited free time, she enjoys volunteering for local organizations, such as Circles Ottawa County in Holland, MI and the Momentum Center for Social Engagement in Grand Haven, MI. She also spends time crocheting, reading, and traveling. So far, she has traveled to China, where she taught English to Chinese middle school students, and has vacationed in Greece, Germany, Austria, and Belgium. In the coming year, she plans to add Haiti, Puerto Rico, France, Italy, and Switzerland to the list.

She believes traveling is important for many of the same reasons that the Cook Leadership Academy is. There is much to be learned from different people and cultures, and she hopes that these experiences will have an impact on her leadership skills.

Christa Fernado – Biomedical Sciences

Christa Fernando was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan by an adventurous and loving family. Her exposure to diverse people groups, involvement in her community, and impactful traveling experiences have helped develop her perspective on both the world and herself. It is these factors that have also helped form her outlook on effective leadership as a fundamentally humble (and sometimes inconspicuous) role of service. She possesses deep innate compassion toward those hurting physically and emotionally, especially due to systemic disadvantages in food access and environmental exposure. This has inspired her to pursue a career in healthcare, particularly focusing on preventative and integrative medicine. She is currently a junior with a Biomedical Sciences major and Environmental Studies minor in the Frederick Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University. In the future, she hopes to obtain her Master’s in Public Health, as well as medical practitioner license that will allow her to serve diverse communities both in the US and abroad.

Jamie Fleury – Legal Studies & Multimedia Journalism

Jamie Fleury is a fifth-year student who is double majoring in Legal Studies and Multimedia Journalism. She has a passion for social justice, civil liberties, and writing, and is happy to be able to combine them all in her two fields of study. Outside of the classroom, Jamie is also proud to be enrolled within the Frederick Meijer Honors College and is honored to be a second-year fellow within the Cook Leadership Academy.

In addition to extracurriculars, Jamie enjoys spending her time outdoors – either, camping, reading a good book, or listening to music. She also loves to practice yoga and visits her hometown of Kalamazoo whenever possible to see her parents, brother, and two dogs. As of now, Jamie plans to attend law school or graduate school and aspires to incorporate both her law and journalism backgrounds in her future work.

Andy Freiman – Cell and Molecular Biology

Andy is a senior at Grand Valley in the Frederik Meijer Honors College and a second-year fellow in the Cook Leadership Academy. He is majoring in Cell & Molecular Biology with a minor in Computer Science. He is originally from Troy, Michigan and attended Troy Athens High School. Andy is involved with multiple organizations on campus and serves as a co-president of the pre-MD/ Ph.D. club, president of GVSU’s Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society circle, and Treasurer of the GVSU Beekeepers. A major component of his undergraduate experience has been his focus on scientific research. For the summers of 2016 and 2017, Andy was selected for the Wayne State University Center for Molecular Medicine & Genetics’ Summer Undergraduate Research Program where he studied human epigenomic variants. In the fall of his sophomore year, a research paper Andy contributed to was published in Cell Biology. At Grand Valley, Andy works with Dr. Margaret Dietrich of the Cell & Molecular Biology department studying a mutant strain of a moss species. Andy was awarded the P. Douglas Kindschi Undergraduate Research Fellowship for his continued work last year. Andy’s goal, after many years of school, is to join the field of forensic pathology.

Kendra Garcia – History & Spanish

Kendra is a junior majoring in History and Spanish with a minor in Latin American and Latino/a Studies. She is involved on campus as a REACH Scholar, Undergraduate Research Ambassador, Vice President of Phi Alpha Theta, and President and Founder of the student organization Women in Humanities. In addition, Kendra works at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy and as an Undergraduate Research Assistant on the Stories of Summer project for the Kutsche Office of Local History. Passionate about history and engagement with underrepresented groups within academia, Kendra hopes to continue her education in a doctoral program after graduation focusing on Mexican history.

Amber Gerrits – Group Social Studies & Education

Amber is a second-year fellow who is very passionate about leadership development, service-learning, inclusion, and education. She is a senior at Grand Valley majoring in Group Social Studies and Education with minors in Elementary Certification and French. She plans to engage in service and nation-wide teaching opportunities post-graduation and afterward hopes to work towards a role in K-12 administration. Amber is active on and off campus. She currently student teaches at Brookside Elementary in GRPS. She is also a member of the Frederik Meijer Honors College, a graduate from Leadershape, an inducted member in Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership fraternity, and a site leader for Alternative Breaks. Through this service and advocacy organization, Amber has been able to travel to several states and engage in various communities and learn about social and environmental topics that concern everything from working with terminally ill children to advocating environmental justice and sustainable practices. In her free time, Amber enjoys listening to music, playing card games with friends, exploring antique shops, and doing community service.

Jillian Green – Cell and Molecular Biology & Biomedical Sciences

Jillian Green is in her last year as an undergraduate at Grand Valley. She is a Cell and Molecular Biology and Biomedical Science double major. Jillian grew up in Macomb County, Michigan and spent the majority of her summers on Lake Saint Clair. She gained her love of science through watching documentaries and from her high school biology class. Graduating as salutatorian from her high school, Jillian entered the GVSU Frederick Honors College and strives for academic excellence. Jillian aspires to enroll in a Master’s Program in Public Health and eventually attend medical school. Currently, she works as an Emergency Department Medical Scribe at Spectrum Health. Overall, Jillian has a passion for making a difference and wants to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard.

Kelly Hancox – Computer Science

Kelly Hancox is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Grand Valley State University. She is majoring in computer science and minoring in Chinese and psychology. Kelly currently works as a resident assistant in the Niemeyer Honors College and also in the Mary Idema Pew Library as an information technology support assistant.

Throughout her college career, she’s been involved in civic engagement efforts around campus, planned a conference with the Residence and Housing Association, and been an active member of Alternative Breaks, leading a trip to North Carolina this past year. In the future, Kelly wants to be a continual learner and wants to become fluent in Mandarin. For her career, Kelly wants to work at the intersection of public policy and technology.

Ellie Harnden – Special Education

Ellie is a fifth-year student at Grand Valley, studying Special Education with an emphasis in Cognitive Impairments and Emotional Impairments. This semester, she began her student teaching and cannot be more excited to start her career in education. She is grateful to begin as a first-year fellow in the Cook Leadership Academy and continue to develop her leadership skills. Last year, Ellie participated in the Disney College Program, where she was a Cast Member at Walt Disney World in Attractions. At Grand Valley, Ellie has served on Executive Board and as a site leader for Kids in Motion. She was also Chair of the College of Education-Dean Student Advisory Committee. In this past year, Ellie created the chapter of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education and initiated several members. When Ellie is not seen at Grand Valley, she is busy working at D.A. Blodgett St. John’s, Westminster Child Development Center, as a substitute teacher, and a student worker at the College of Education. After graduation, Ellie desires to positively impact students with Emotional Impairments and those who have experienced trauma.

Darwin Harris – History

Darwin Harris is a senior at Grand Valley State University. He is majoring in History and has a minor in Politics. Darwin plans to teach English abroad or attend law school next fall. He is from East St. Louis. Darwin also is an RA (resident assistant) on campus, is involved in Student Senate, and is the secretary of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society. Darwin has acted in plays and have done many presentations at GVSU.

Kati Harris – Therapeutic Recreation

Kati Harris is originally from Bountiful, Utah. She joined the United States Air Force in 2009 where she served five years on active duty as a medical laboratory technician and JBAIDS team member. The last year and a half of her enlistment was spent with an Air National Guard unit where she cross trained to become a medic and oversaw operations of a small medical laboratory. After her enlistment ended, she transferred to Grand Valley where she is completing her final year in the Therapeutic Recreation program. Kati is active with the veteran community on campus and serves as the team lead for the Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE) program, and she also represents the GVSU chapter of the Student Veterans of America as president. Once she graduates she plans to provide recreational therapy services to older adults and veterans. In her free time Kati enjoys spending time with her husband of eleven years and their two dogs.

Lilia Hauenstein – Advertising and Public Relations

Throughout her time as a Laker, Lilia was involved in the community, and took advantage of the resources offered at GVSU. First of all, she dedicated her first two years as a color guard member in the Laker Marching Band, where she dedicated her weeknights and weekends to practice in order to support and perform at football games. After completing her first semester, she began working at the University Development where she’s been developing skills for nearly two years. Additionally, she joined the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy during her sophomore year where she’s been gaining knowledge on leadership and professionalism. Finally, the most recent, and major, event throughout Lilia’s college experience is her yearlong study abroad in Japan. After much research, working 40 hours a week during the summer months, she was able to spend an entire year in Japan. There, she immersed herself in the Japanese culture, lived with a host family, traveled to places like Seoul & Tokyo, privately taught and tutored English to Japanese students, created lifelong friendships with Japanese and students from all around the world, and even participated in filming the Laker Effect campaign video. Now, as she digs deeper into her senior year, Lilia is furthering into the Advertising and Public Relations degree with a minor in International Business. She is also learning Japanese on her own in an effort to reach to N1 (full professional proficiency). Also, she joined the PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) club to learn more about her field of study. She’s also working the maximum number of hours, while enrolling full-time at GVSU in order to save up for her next goal to live and work in Japan following graduation.

Ty Hendry – Film and Video

Ty Hendry is a senior in the Film Video program at Grand Valley State University. His studies have primarily incorporated virtual reality and documentary film. He freely admits the unorthodox nature of his studies, but believes wholeheartedly in the intersection between the two disciplines. He believes that it all comes down to condensing the complicated into something simple, something readily digestible. Information isn’t anything if there isn’t anybody who can actually understand it and inspiring empathy is one way of teaching. He has helped to coordinate seminars introducing Animation to the students of West Michigan and served on the inaugural eboard of the GVSU Animation Guild. Through his work for Grand Valley’s Digital Studio, he has played an integral role in generating teaching materials for faculty in emerging mediums. Most recently, he spent July in London, producing a documentary about the condition of the homeless in the United Kingdom which has screened internationally.

Steven Henley – Political Science & Economics

Steven Henley—a senior—comes from the small town of Hopkins, MI. Steven is seeking a degree in Political Science and Economics at Grand Valley, which he will use as a foundation as he prepares to attend law school, earning his J.D. He hopes to one-day practice law and devote himself to public service.

Steven is the current financial officer within the GVSU Law Society and former president of the organization. For over a year, Steven has volunteered with the Legal Assistance Center located in the Kent County Courthouse. In the past, Steven has served on the Student Senate body for three semesters, in the committees of External Relations and Educational Affairs. Steven is also a part of the Phi Sigma Alpha political science national honors fraternity, and Alpha Sigma Lambda honors and volunteer fraternity.

This past summer, Steven traveled to Limpopo, South Africa as an independent initiative with the CLA. He was able to participate in wildlife research and habitat restoration at a local game reserve. There, he refined his understanding of leadership and was reminded of staying conscientious when making decisions.

Steven is a recipient of the Bretzlaff Foundation Scholarship, the Reifel Economics Scholarship, and the Presidential Volunteer Service Award.

Before Grand Valley, Steven earned the Rank of Eagle Scout and participated as a teen leader in his local 4-H Club. Steven enjoys sports, cooking, exercising, animals, and the outdoors. He is grateful for the opportunity to be a fellow of the Cook Leadership Academy and looks forward to opportunities that enhance his understanding and leadership ability.

Lora J. Herweyer – Nursing

Lora J. Herweyer is a senior at Grand Valley State University studying her Bachelors of Science in Nursing. She was born in Des Moines, Iowa and resided there until she was 10. Lora comes from a military background and at age 10 she moved to Oklahoma, Florida at age 16, Virginia at 25, and finally to her home in Michigan eight years ago. Lora is married with two children ages 14 and 6 and two dogs Marlie and Maggie May. She is very passionate about medicine and helping other people. While attending GV, Lora serves as a current member of The Student Nurses Association, sits on the Wesorick Center Nursing Advisory Board as the only undergraduate student, is a fellow of the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy, volunteers and assists with autopsies, and completed training for the new nursing admissions process at KCON. After graduation, Lora will immediately pursue her Doctoral in Nursing Practitioner at GVSU. After graduate school, Lora aspires to be an expert witness for the State Prosecutor's Office in sexual assault and homicide cases. Lora enjoys spending time with her family, running, canning, and volunteering in the community. Lora is grateful and honored to be part of the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy where she will grow her leadership skills and integrate her experience and skills into her career in the field of Nursing.

Emily Heyburn – English & Classics

Emily Heyburn is a senior at Grand Valley State University in the Frederick Meijer Honors College pursuing a double major in English and Classics. She engages actively in the student community at Grand Valley as the President of Classics Society and the Vice President of the local chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, a classical languages honors fraternity. She is also a member of the national honors fraternity Phi Kappa Phi. A recent experience studying abroad for her English major has left Emily unable to stay still, and upon graduating in April, she plans to teach English abroad to gain a global perspective and become a better world citizen before pursuing higher education that will empower her to advocate for the underrepresented and unheard.

Amanda Hoffman – Accounting

Amanda Hoffman is in her final semester of undergraduate study at Grand Valley, majoring in Accounting. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, she will be pursuing a Masters of Accounting through the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University. Her goal is to become a Certified Public Accountant. Amanda recently completed a tax season internship with Plante Moran in Traverse City, MI. Following completion of the MSA program, Amanda will begin working fulltime for Plante Moran, beginning January 2019. In her free time, Amanda’s passions include spending time with friends and family, and being outdoors. Her love for the outdoors was cultivated through her childhood. She grew up in Harbor Springs, MI, and is very proud to be from a small northern Michigan hometown. She is excited to be a second year Cook Leadership Academy Fellow and is looking forward to learning new techniques that will enhance her innate leadership skills.

Kelly Hoffman – Political Science & Legal Studies

Kelly Hoffman is a senior majoring in Political Science and Legal Studies at Grand Valley State University. She has worked for the housing department as a Resident Assistant for the past three years in a wide variety of locations including freshman housing, the international house, and the gender justice house. She has also worked as a student assistant for University Communications. Kelly has participated in two years of study abroad in Brazil and Turkey, where she lived with host families and was fully immersed in the language and culture. Kelly is from Petoskey, Michigan where most of her family lives. She comes from a large extended family but has a small immediate family with only one older brother. Kelly’s favorite activities include being outdoors, learning languages, reading, crocheting, taking spinning classes, and cooking. During her time at GVSU, she completed two internships with Immigrant Connection and the Emmet County Prosecutor’s Office where she explored her interest in the study of law and the justice system. Kelly hopes to attend law school post-graduation.

Lauren Hogikyan – Special Education

Lauren is a fifth-year student at Grand Valley State University’s Frederik Meijer Honors College. Lauren is studying Special Education and is seeking a double endorsement in Cognitive and Emotional Impairments as well as a certification in Elementary General Education. Her passion for teaching was sparked by her amazing teachers growing up, and many of them continue to serve as her role models today. Since her first year at Grand Valley, Lauren has been involved with the Council for Exceptional Children. Lauren served as the President of the student organization at Grand Valley during her fourth-year, and is currently serving as the Michigan Council for Exceptional Children Student Board President. Lauren is open to teaching a variety of grades and subjects post-graduation, however, through volunteering and teaching placements Lauren has found a particular passion for urban education. In the future, she hopes to serve school-aged children in an administrative position to reach as many students as possible. Lauren is grateful for the opportunity to learn from so many leaders as part of the Cook Leadership Academy this year, and is most excited to bring the knowledge gained into her future classroom!

Andrea Holt – Nursing

Andrea Holt is a third-year student in the Frederick Meijer Honors College as well as the Kirkhof College of Nursing at Grand Valley State University. Born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI, the Forest Hills Northern High School grad, wanted to remain close to home while continuing her education. Andrea was an active member of the Pre-Nursing Association and now the Student Nurses Associations on the collegiate, state-wide, and national levels. She also was a tutor for Laker athletes, and an Honors Student Ambassador. During her time at Grand Valley, Andrea has found a passion working with the elderly and has done extensive research in the field of gerontology. She helped Dr. Jane Toot create, conduct, and revise the first of its kind Intergenerational course in Higher Education offered not only at Grand Valley, but also all across the United States of America. While being a teaching assistant for this course, she decided to extend her passion for geriatrics into her work and was hired as a Resident Assistant and Medical Technician at Porter Hills Village. Andrea is looking forward to going through her clinical rotations in the Kirkhof College of Nursing in hopes of finding an area of study she would like to focus her career in. She is thrilled to be a first-year Cook Leadership fellow and form relationships and enhance leadership skills through the opportunities provided by the Cooke Leadership Academy and the Hauenstein Center.

Jesse Hooker – Political Science

Jesse Hooker is a Senior in the Grand Valley State University Honors College majoring in Political Science and minoring in Philosophy. Jesse is preparing to attend Law School next fall and hopes to one day become a practicing lawyer. During his Junior year, he spent a summer in Washington D.C. working in a lobbying firm and hopes to be involved in politics throughout his life. Jesse is currently working in a congressional office learning how to interact with constituents and engage with government entities. At Grand Valley, Jesse is involved in several groups including Ethics Bowl, Golf Club, and Campus Ministry Life Groups. Jesse is excited to be part of an organization that expands leadership qualities and promotes finding a Common Ground.

Cameron Jones – Political Science & International Relations

Cameron Jones is a third-year student in the Frederick Meijer Honors College where he is pursuing a double major in Political Science and International Relations. Cameron grew up in Trenton, Michigan, and he graduated from Gabriel Richard Catholic High School in 2016. Since he began his time at Grand Valley, Cameron has been making the most of the university's opportunities for leadership development. In September of 2016, he partnered with some friends to found the Issues Forum, a bi-monthly discussion group that brings students together to talk through the anxiety and the hostility of the current political climate. In February of 2017, Cameron became an executive board member of the university's Model United Nations team, a natural fit that provided him another avenue to express his love for politics and for communication. In addition to leading those organizations, Cameron currently serves as a member of Grand Valley’s Student Senate. He was elected to be Student Senate's Vice President of External Relations in April 2018 after serving as a general Senator for one year. Cameron has experience working as a legislative aide and as a political campaign's field director, and he hopes to remain involved in politics after graduation. In his free time, Cameron enjoys playing board games and finding new places to eat. His greatest role model is Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame, who dedicated his life to emotional development and to the genuine care of each person.

Marisa Kahnt – Liberal Studies

Marisa Kahnt is a senior from Clinton Township, Michigan. She is majoring in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Identities and Innovative Impact, minoring in Psychology. Loving all things interdisciplinary, she is also a huge advocate for design thinking. Marisa is an aspiring Student Affairs Professional, and is hoping to attend graduate school for Student Affairs in Higher Education. This past summer she was an Orientation Assistant and fell even more in love with Student Affairs in regards to the advising aspect. Additionally, Marisa is currently a 4-year employee and Student Manager in the Dean of Students Office. Very passionate about inspiring and encouraging others to be the best versions of themselves, Marisa serves as the President of her sorority, Phi Mu. She loves to empower women and is able to do so with her sorority sisters by holding them to a higher standard. She can't wait to tackle this last year at Grand Valley with all that the Cook Leadership Academy has to offer!

Rachel Kornoelje – Writing

Rachel Kornoelje is currently working on a Bachelor of Arts in Writing, with a minor in Advertising and Public Relations. She works for Grand Valley’s University Development in the Communications Department as a Writer. She loves writing, and has used that skill to help Veterans Upward Bound promote their services. She also volunteers at Crash’s Landing & Big Sid’s Sanctuary, and with the Literacy Center of West Michigan as a tutor. She enjoys serving others, and is an animal rescue advocate. She has always wanted to use her writing skill to serve others, and is now seeing that goal come to fruition

Jhaleel Levi-Alford – Biomedical Sciences

Jhaleel Levi-Alford, more commonly known as Jhay, is a third-year student at Grand Valley State University pursing a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in chemistry. Jhay is the son of Letitia Levi and Monroe Alford and grandson of Barbara and Lamar Reevers Jr. and is a native of Kentwood, Michigan. Outside of the classroom, Jhay is active in numerous organizations. At Kindred Hospice, Jhay splits time between working in the office and meeting with terminally-ill patients. He was also accepted to the Michigan State College of Human Medicine Pipeline Program. Jhay is also a member of the Black Male Scholars at GVSU. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching and playing sports and reading. After receiving his undergraduate degree, he plans to attend medical school to receive his M.D. Aside from his future practice, he plans to provide care to underserved families in the greater Grand Rapids area.

Steven Lloyd – Finance

Steven Lloyd is from Macomb, MI, where he attended Chippewa Valley High School. He is currently in his third year at Grand Valley (second-year being a member of the Cook Leadership Academy) and is majoring in Finance, but contemplating double-majoring or adding a minor that is also a part of the Seidman College of Business. Steven is a member of Grand Valley Men’s Basketball team, the treasurer for SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) and involved in the Black Male Scholars Initiative. In his third year, Steven likes to show his own sense of leadership on and off the court, mostly through his work ethic, drive, and passion. All through his high school years and even now, Steven likes to be one who leads by example. His biggest goal, which is one that he has had since he was a little boy, is to make it to the NBA and become a professional basketball player. Outside of sports, he wants to use his finance degree to become a successful CEO, investor, and philanthropist. Lastly, Steven is truly grateful and feel blessed to be a part of such a fantastic program.

Samantha Luken – Communication Studies

Samantha Luken is a senior Communication Studies and Theatre minor, with a passion for art administration. Her studies revolve around the history of humanity's communication through art and spirituality. Samantha is currently an undergraduate research assistant at the Kutsche Office of Local History, exploring and archiving the cultural and religious history of Temple B'nai Israel, in Muskegon, MI. She has been involved in GVSU's Campus Interfaith programs for 2 years, striving towards creating a safe campus culture of acceptance, rather than hate. Samantha also has devoted much of her studies to Shakespearean performance work, and through the GVSU Shakespeare Festival has been trained vocally, physically and in stage combat. She has worked for Drama Kids of Michigan directing and designing children's theatre. Samantha received an "I Am Grand Valley" Award for her participation in GVSU's Hillel eboard as the 2017-2018 Interfaith Coordinator. She is advocate for social change, and hopes to help build a world where art can bring those of all cultures together.

Beth MacDonald – Statistics

Beth is a fifth-year senior in the Frederick Meijer Honors College studying Statistics with minors in Biology and Data Science. After graduation, Beth intends to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Health. Currently, Beth is a member of Phi Kappa Phi (National Honors Society) and Mu Sigma Rho (National Statistics Honors Society). Beth is passionate about working with the elderly in her community and has been volunteering in Assisted Living Communities in the Grand Rapids area since she was 16 years old. She loves to reminisce and be a companion for residents who suffer from dementia. When not studying or volunteering, Beth can be found watching hockey, listening to podcasts, kayaking, and reading. Additionally, Beth has recently fostered a love for travel. She spent this past summer study abroad at Chiang Mai University in Thailand. As a second-year fellow with the Cook Leadership Academy and a Student Assistant at the Hauenstein Center, Beth looks forward to learning from her peers and developing into an effective and engaged leader in her community.

Claire MacDonald – Legal Studies

Claire is a third-year student studying Legal Studies with a minor in Human Rights. While living in Chicago, Claire spent countless hours volunteering at a local homeless shelter and interacting with the low-income residents of the city. There, she noticed a common theme among the people she talked to - their inability to access affordable and high-quality health care severely impacted their ability to work and support themselves financially. After returning to Michigan, she dedicated herself to the study of health care laws and policies and hopes to continue these passions into law school. When Claire isn’t studying, you can find her at DeVos Hall, supporting and volunteering for the Grand Rapids Symphony, where she spent two years as a development intern. She also spends her time playing various instruments, trying to cook, and working on creative writing pieces. One thing Claire values and encourages more than anything else is taking the time and opportunity to participate in our government by voting.

Paige Matusiak – Behavioral Neuroscience & Spanish

During her time as a CLA fellow, Paige has had the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in both Bhubaneswar, India and Bilbao, Spain. In line with her aspirations of becoming an international neuroscience researcher, Paige recently returned from a life-changing internship in Madrid, Spain, where she worked within Fundación Canis Majoris' neuroscience research lab. There, she cared for induced pluripotent stem cell and cancer cell cultures and was trained in techniques regarding epigenetics, molecular biology, and biochemistry. After her graduation in December 2018 with a degree in Behavioral Neuroscience and Spanish, Paige will be returning to Madrid in January 2019 in order to fulfill a full-time job offer given to her by the foundation. Paige will then start her Master's degree in Cognitive Neuroscience in September of 2019. In the meantime, Paige will continue to actively participate in an Alzheimer’s research lab within GVSU’s Biomedical Science department. Additionally, she currently holds the position as Secretary on the Neuroscience Club e-board. Paige looks forward to earning her Ph.D. in neurodegenerative science. Her overall goal is to understand the connection between multilingual fluency and how this ability delays the behavioral onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Emma Merlington – Nursing

Emma is a Junior in the Fredrick Meijer Honors College. She is a Resident Assistant on campus and studies nursing in the Kirkhof College of Nursing. Emma was born and raised in Plymouth, MI and graduated from the International Baccalaureate academy at Salem High School. At Grand Valley, Emma serves as a delegate for the Student Nurses' Association as well as co-chair for the nursing in the Nursing in the News committee within SNA. Emma has also served as a chair on the executive board for Grand Valley's Leadership Summit, and enjoys working other student leaders on campus to foster a sense of community. After graduating with her BSN from Grand Valley, Emma would like to pursue either her medical degree or her Master's in Science of Nursing that will eventually lead to the pursuit of a DNP. Within the healthcare community, Emma is interested in working in the emergency department and the operating room. Emma enjoys being involved on campus and working with other students who are motivated to make a difference and pursue their goals. In her free time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and friends, coffee, and watching her Premier League soccer team play.

Laura Miller – Biomedical Sciences

Laura is a junior at Grand Valley State University in the Frederik Meijer Honors College pursuing a degree in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Spanish. After she finishes her undergraduate degree, she plans to further her education with the goal of attending medical school. A native of Clinton Township on the east side of the Michigan, she has immersed herself in the Grand Rapids community through the organizations that she now is a part of. She current serves as the Treasurer for her sorority, Phi Mu, in addition to serving as the President of Habitat for Humanity at Grand Valley. Further, Laura works as a medical scribe in the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Emergency Department, where she enjoys indirectly helping the patients as she receives a glimpse into her hopeful future as a medical doctor. She enjoys spending her free time volunteering in the community or at her cottage on Lake Huron with her friends and family, in addition to traveling and serving abroad while learning about other cultures. Laura aspires to continue to learn more about herself as a leader through the Cook Leadership Academy, and to carry the skills she learns forward into her future career in medicine.

Alan Mock – Masters of Science in Biology

Alan is pursuing an M.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Aquatic Sciences at GVSU's Annis Water Resources Institute. Alan grew up in Peru, Indiana where he graduated from Manchester University in 2017 with a double major in Biology and Environmental Studies. While attending Manchester, he was a 4-year varsity wrestler and team captain during his senior year. Alan is the vice president of the Biology Graduate Club where he works to provide funding opportunities to fellow graduate students to attend professional conferences.

Alan enjoys spending time outdoors taking advantage of Michigan's valuable natural resources while fishing, kayaking, and backpacking. After completion of his graduate studies, he hopes to begin a career as a fisheries biologist or continuing his education towards earning a Ph.D. He joined the Cook Leadership Academy in order to improve his leadership skills that he hopes to carry into his professional career and everyday life.

Aaron Muscaro – Biomedical Sciences

Aaron Muscaro is senior at Grand Valley State University pursuing a degree in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Business. Originally from Commerce Township, Michigan, Aaron grew up with his Mom (Rhonda), Dad (David), Sister (Moriah) a GVSU and CLA alumni, and beloved dog, Ryder. For the six summers leading up to this past summer, Aaron has had the humbling job of being a caddy at Edgewood Country Club. At Edgewood CC, he quickly earned the rank of Honor caddy, the highest rank a caddy can achieve. In college, Aaron has continued to pursue his love for golf. As a freshman at GVSU, Aaron helped create the Club Golf Team where he served as club’s President for three years, starting with only five guys, Aaron has grown the club to an astonishing 40-man team. Along with his role as Club Golf President, Aaron has served as a Frederick Meijer Honor’s College mentor and Transitions Leader for new student orientation. Currently he is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Bridge team leader through Campus Ministry, and volunteer YMCA basketball coach. This past summer, Aaron pursued his passion for sales by working a sales management internship at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Among his accomplishments at Enterprise included; best customer service in his region and top sales yield of interns in his area. His dream, after his education is complete, is to combine his love for the anatomy of the human body with his highly competitive nature to pursue a career in the field of Medical Orthopedic sales. Aaron is very excited to build new relationships, network with business professionals, and continue develop his leadership perspective and skills through the Cook Leadership Academy.

Daniel Muzyka – Biostatistics MS

After a brush with statistics while working in Valspar’s automotive primer research lab, Daniel discovered what would become the culminating piece of his undergraduate degree. With an enthusiasm for the natural sciences that could only be rivaled by his curiosity of culture, Daniel embraced the opportunities Grand Valley provided as part of their liberal education, including two opportunities to study abroad in Krakow, Poland. Daniel’s undergraduate career had lectures containing anything from physics to philosophy, but he finished his Liberal Studies degree with multiple statistics electives. After graduating from Grand Valley as a member of the Frederik Meijer Honors College, he decided to stick around for a master’s degree in Biostatistics. Now, in the second and final year of his program, Daniel works for the Kirkhof College of Nursing as a Biostatistician Research Assistant as well as a Biostatistician Intern for the Spectrum Health Office of Research. Daniel gravitated to biostatistics for his advanced degree because he saw statistics as the underpinning of so many of his research interests, and he has plenty of interests if you have the time to talk. Post-graduation, Daniel wants to continue work as a biostatistician but eventually would like the ability to apply his skills to benefit community health through epidemiological research to inform policy.

Ben Parsell – Information Systems

Ben Parsell is a senior at Grand Valley State University studying Information Systems, with a minor in Business. Outside of the classroom, Ben has found a deep-rooted passion for entrepreneurship, leadership, and community development. He currently works at Open Systems Technologies (OST) as an Application Developer Intern and hopes to continue learning about the tech sector to continue to build a software company of his own. He’s found an interest in also learning about other sectors and hopes to start an array of businesses during his life. Ben's career goal is to eventually be able to be known as the businessman who did everything in his power to better his community through development projects and philanthropy, all the while keeping a smile on his face.

Riley Pearl – Finance

Riley Pearl is a junior at Grand Valley in the Frederick Meijer Honors College. She is a Finance major with a minor in Psychology. Originally from West Bloomfield, located on the East Side of Michigan, Riley was drawn to the downtown campus that Grand Valley offers. Currently, Riley serves as Philanthropic Assistant for her sorority Sigma Kappa and oversees the chapter's service projects. She has previously been a committee member for risk management and funding. Grand Valley has also allowed her to grow her leadership skills while she served as a Student Mentor in the Honors College for incoming freshman. Riley has worked on campus in the Office of the President as a Student Assistant since her freshman year and also works as a choreographer for a local studio to continue sharing her long-standing passion for dance. Riley has decided to accelerate her graduation date and finish a semester early with hopes to continue her education by earning an M.B.A or pursing law school and earning her J.D. Overall, Riley hopes to use her time in the Cook Leadership Academy to develop her passions further and continue to grow personally and professionally.

Gabriela Rocha – Biomedical Sciences

Gabriela Rocha is a senior majoring in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Biology. She is originally from São Paulo, Brazil, and began her academic career in the United States with a high school exchange program in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She obtained diplomas from both the American high school and her Brazilian high school, and chose to continue her education at GVSU. Gabriela is very active within the Grand Valley community, as she is the secretary of the Pre-Med Club, a member of the Latino Student Union, as well as working at the game operations at the GVSU sporting facilities. In addition to this, she volunteers weekly at Spectrum Health hospitals and other local organizations. In the summer of 2017, Gabriela had the privilege of participating in the LeaderShape program, offered for the first time at Grand Valley. This program was an excellent opportunity for Gabriela to learn and work as a team, as well as challenging herself as a leader. Gabriela hopes to finish her schoolings and become an M.D. specializing in pediatrics. She is very excited for this opportunity to participate in CLA, and hopes to make the most of the experience.

Michelle Roldan – Psychology

Michelle is a senior at Grand Valley studying Psychology and Pre-Occupational Therapy. At Grand Valley, Michelle is the former President/Campus Organizer and founder of the It's On Us as Lakers student organization. She is now an At-Large Regional Advisor for the national It's On Us Campaign. Both organizations educate and spread awareness around sexual assault, consent, and bystander intervention. She is a strong advocate and ally for survivors of assault/abuse, mental health/mental illness, and individuals with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. Michelle is fluent in English and Spanish, and is currently learning American Sign Language and French. Michelle has a passion for singing and playing/creating music and uses her gifts and talents at her local church. She is an avid swing dancer, a lover of dogs (and all animals), and a coffee enthusiast.

Ryan Schwaar – Dance, Management, & Accounting

Ryan is a senior in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley, pursuing a triple major in Dance, Management, and Accounting. During his undergraduate career thus far, he has been blessed to receive opportunities such as the Alexander Calder Honors Scholarship, Dance Scholarship, and Seidman Study Abroad scholarship, with which he spent a semester in Florence, Italy to engage in the Italian culture, take business and dance classes, intern at a dance studio, learn the Italian language, and travel throughout Europe to places such as Spain, France, UK, and the Czech Republic. He also placed first in the Financial Executives International—West Michigan Student Case Competition 2017 and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi and Beta Gamma Sigma honor societies in 2017. Ryan comes from Mundelein, IL, and is very close to his family, especially his siblings, which include three older sisters and younger brother. He is a hard worker, a community builder, and is passionate about his faith and relationship with Jesus. Over the last two summers, he received full scholarships to summer dance intensives held by the Dance Academy of Libertyville and Inside Dance Chicago (2017), where he had the pleasure of learning from seasoned artists and choreographers such as Eddy Ocampo, Rebecca Lemme, Brian O'Hare, Robert McKee, and Randy Duncan. He also held a management internship this past summer at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, a professional, internationally-touring dance company, where he solidified his passion for arts administration. Ryan hopes to continue dancing after graduation, specifically in Chicago, IL, where he would love to spend time performing, choreographing, and/or teaching, while working concurrently in arts administration or management.

Hunter Streling – International Relations

Hunter is a junior at GVSU, majoring in International Relations with minors in Criminal Justice and Arabic. He is from Romeo, Michigan and is a student and mentor in the Frederik Meijer Honors College. While working two jobs on campus as a Tour Guide and a Sports Programs Supervisor with Campus Recreation, he is also very active on campus. Hunter is currently serving as the president of the Arab Culture Club as well as the secretary of his fraternity. As a brother of Alpha Tau Omega, he plans to participate in ATO Walks Hard, a 160-mile walk from Traverse City to campus, as well as taking a larger leadership role within the organization. After graduation, he plans on working for INTERPOL. Hunter is looking forward to the many leadership opportunities that the Cook Leadership Academy will provide him.

Kahler Sweeney – Master of Public Administration

Kahler is a graduate of the Political Science and Public & Nonprofit Administration undergraduate programs at GVSU and is now pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree. In addition to his classwork, he works at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy as a graduate research assistant researching issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the philanthropic sector. Kahler's past experiences include a nonprofit management internship with the Center for Inquiry Michigan Chapter, city management internship with the City of Grand Rapids Executive Office, lead research consultant with University Libraries, and service with the Michigan Army National Guard. He grew up in Cheboygan, MI, and now lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Megan. His passion is public service, and he hopes to serve in state or local management positions after earning his degree. Kahler enjoys traveling, reading, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying the many things to do in Grand Rapids.

Anna Szalay – Public and Nonprofit Administration

Anna Szalay grew up in Dearborn, MI, a suburb of Detroit, but spent much of her childhood exploring the vast forests and clear waters in Northern Michigan. Curiosity and a desire to learn about new places rooted itself deep within Anna after hours spent reading National Geographic stories written by Change-makers and Explorers. Anna’s love for new places and the environment followed her to Grand Valley State University and then later to Lüneburg, Germany where she studied for a semester in 2017.

Today, Anna finds herself busy preparing students to vote in the Midterm Election through her job in the Office of Student Life, while also educating students about waste sorting and low impact lifestyles as the Communications Intern in the Office of Sustainability. She is also thrilled to serve as the Vice President of Finance for Grand Valley’s largest student-led organization, Alternative Breaks. Working for Grand Valley and being engaged in student organizations, has allowed Anna to share her passions for civic engagement, sustainability, and community service with others.

In the future, Anna foresees teaching English abroad and doing A LOT of traveling. Above all else in life, she strives to hold integrity and foster an inclusive atmosphere for others. As Anna enters her final year at GVSU, she is working hard to make her future objectives and adventures become a reality.

Ted Tabor – Psychology

Ted is currently in his fourth year here at Grand Valley State University as a student in the Frederik Meijer Honors College. He is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Biology. In his time here, Ted has enjoyed various leadership, service, and travel experiences. A couple of his favorites include a service trip to Kansas, Missouri to provide services to immigrants and refugees, spending an entire semester abroad in Auckland, New Zealand, and volunteering with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Kent County. His current involvement at Grand Valley— away from being a CLA junior fellow— includes being a second-year Resident Assistant for the Niemeyer Living and Learning Community, a Student Assistant for the Fredrik Meijer Honors College, and president of the Genetic Counseling Organization. After graduating, Ted hopes to continue working with and serving others in his pursuit of a Master’s degree in Genetic Counseling. In his free time, Ted enjoys staying active, eating healthy, and traveling. Ted is excited to strengthen his own leadership skills while also working with other fellows and community members to generate a communal impact.

Holly Tumbarello – Film and Video

Holly is a junior at Grand Valley State University who is majoring in Film & Video and minoring in Advertising and Public Relations. On campus, Holly is a part of the Frederik Meijer Honors College, Grand Valley TV, and is the financial officer for the GV Film Academy. Passionate about sustainability, she spends time on a weekly basis educating students on sorting their compost, trash, and recycling through the Green Team. Holly works at the Promotions Office through Student Life where she enjoys having the ability to collaborate with other creative people, while going around campus to film all of the events Grand Valley students participate in. When she’s not studying or working on some sort of film project, Holly loves to go for runs and long walks or take out her camera and explore new places. In the future, she aims to create thought-provoking films that allows her to remain curious and share the diverse stories of the world.

Kenny Urena-Gonzalez – Nursing

Kenny is first-generation student studying Nursing here at Grand Valley. As a 5th year, Kenny spends his time working as a Peer Mentor in Trio Stem and as a Paint Associate at Home Depot. He is currently volunteering as a medical interpreter at a clinic and an intern at The Other Way Ministries. Kenny likes to spend his free times drawing with charcoal and color pencils as well as writing short poems. He hopes in the future to work with other medical professionals and collaborate to give the best patient care possible at clinics and hospitals.

Richard Vegh – Philosophy & English Language and Literature

Richard is a senior in the Frederick Meijer Honors College pursuing a B.A. in Philosophy and English Language and Literature, with a minor in applied linguistics. A native of the Okemos, Michigan area, Richard has lived in several states before returning to Michigan to complete his undergraduate studies. When not studying, Richard can be found working in the Allendale campus Writing Center, working under Dr. Remlinger on applied linguistics research, or working on thorny ethical issues with the Ethics Bowl club.

Guerin Wagner – Marketing & Finance

Guerin Wagner is seeking a double major in Marketing and Finance from the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University. Guerin applied and was admitted into the Cook Leadership Academy as a sophomore to push himself intellectually and increase his leadership abilities. He is entering his 4th and final year at Grand Valley State University. Guerin is a native of Zionsville, Indiana, but plans on living on the west side of Michigan after graduation. During his time at Grand Valley, Guerin has been very involved in different activities and clubs while also holding a high academic standard for himself. He has been a college athlete for the past three years, a SAAC representative, a member of the investment portfolio organization, a finance tutor at the Seidman College of Business, and a member of Sigma Alpha Lambda. Guerin also enjoys any kind of outdoor activities, cards and spending time with his family and friends. The past summer Guerin was a financial development intern at Whirlpools headquarters in Benton Harbor, Michigan where he recently just received and accepted a full-time position in their finance rotational program after graduation. Guerin is excited for the opportunity to work at Whirlpool Corporations after graduation but first plans on having a great senior year of college!

Danielle Warren – Creative Writing & Environmental Studies

Danielle, pursuing degrees in Creative Writing and Environmental Studies, is in her junior year at Grand Valley. She is passionate about using self-guided learning, creativity, and community-building as tools for both personal fulfillment and global sustainability. She is happiest when collaborating with youth to develop these skills. She will soon be self-publishing a book of poems titled "Good Things Are Still True." After graduation, she would like to work with at-risk youth on creative writing and/or sustainability, as well as travel often. She looks forward to what the Cook Leadership Academy will teach her about fearless, effective, and collaborative leadership.

Chavala Ymker – Liberal Studies

Chavala Ymker is a second-year student at Grand Valley and a first-year CLA fellow. She is currently pursuing a major in Liberal Studies with a focus on storytelling and social justice with a minor in nonprofit administration. Throughout the rest of her time at GVSU, she would like to learn more about psychology, sociology, and religious studies. In the future, she hopes to write books, become a professor, be involved in nonprofit leadership, and perhaps work as a theatre dramaturg. She is passionate about ending the stigma around mental illness, and is involved in the beginning stages of a nonprofit focused on offering affordable and accessible mental health services to college students. After graduation, she plans to serve overseas with the Peace Corps-the first step to fulfilling her dream of living on every continent. On campus, she works as a peer mentor with Brooks College, attending Lib 100 events to engage students in thoughtful discussion, giving classroom presentations and offering tours of Grand Valley’s resources. In her free time, she enjoys reading a wide range of books, learning about new topics, writing for her blog, playing her five musical instruments, and having deep conversations.

Cameron Zbikowski – HR Management, International Business, & Spanish

Cameron Zbikowski, of Grandville, Michigan, is a senior at Grand Valley State University. A military veteran, Cameron served 8 years in the US Navy (including a tour in Iraq) before returning home to Michigan to further his education. A recipient of the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship he has spent the last two years abroad studying in Australia, gaining additional multi-cultural perspectives. Cameron is currently working towards completion of a dual degree, triple major in HR Management, International Business, and Spanish. Once his degrees are completed he plans to either stay local, contributing to the Grand Rapids business community or working for the US Consulate’s office abroad.

Cook Leadership Mentors

Mentors for the 2017-18 Cook Leadership Academy


David Abbott, Director of Friends & Corporate Relations, Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids

Fred Antczak, Dean, GVSU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Charles Ash, Partner, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP

Scott Ayotte, Director – Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity & Equity; former Human Resource Specialist for Spectrum Health; member by Executive Appointment to the State of MI Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission

Deb Bailey, GRCC Board of Trustees, Director of Global Relations at Steelcase, Inc.

Claudia Bajema, Director of Graduate Business Programs (Retired), GVSU

Dan Behm, Superintendent, Forest Hills Public Schools

Mary Dailey Brown, CEO/President of SowHope; CLA Alumna

Allie Bush, Director of Government Affairs, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce; CLA Alumna

Dev Butler, Director of Staff Relations & Development, GVSU; Thinc Consulting LLC

Laurie Chesley, Provost, GRCC

Jayne Courts, MD, FACP, Medical Director, Mercy Health Physician Partners GR

Kathy Crosby, President & CEO, Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids

Tania DeVries, VP of Wealth Management & Investments, Huntington National Bank

Kent Dobson, Pilgrimage Tour Director; former Teaching Pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church

Tom Doyal, Managing Director, RDV Corp

Brandon Eisentrager, Executive Director, Jandernoa Entrepreneurial Mentoring (JEM)

Paul Farr, MD, Doctor of Gastroenterology (Retired)

Linsey Gleason, Partner, Estate Planning Practice Team, Varnum Law LLP

Justin Gray, Inpatient Nursing Supervisor, Spectrum Health Butterworth; CLA Alumnus

John Green, Executive Chairman, Founders Brewing Co.; GVU Leadership Committee

Valerie Guzman, Associate Director of Student Life, GVSU

Graci Harkema, Account Recruiting Manager – Government Services, TEK Systems

George Heartwell, Former Mayor of Grand Rapids; Community Sustainability Coordinator, GVSU

Elissa Hillary, Executive Director, Local First

Dan Hurwitz, Assistant VP for Community Giving, GVSU University Development

Jack Iott, Senior Investment Analyst at RDV Corporation; CLA Alumnus

Melinda Johnson, OB/GYN; Division Chief, Women’s Health Department, Spectrum Health

Greg Kaufman, CEO, Amstore

Jennifer Maxson, Practice Group Leader, Varnum Consulting

Rob McCarty, Managing Partner, The Image Shoppe

Brianne McKee, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County

Noreen Myers, Attorney of Employment Law; former GVSU Board of Trustees Member

Jordan O’Neil, Director of Business Development and Marketing, Griffin Properties; Founder of Failure:Lab; CLA Alumnus

Diana Pace, Retired Director, GVSU Counseling Center; former Associate Dean of Students, GVSU

Peter Perez, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary, US Dept of Commerce- International Trade Administration; Chairman, Carter Products

Matt Rampe, Business Valuation Professional, Senior Manager, Beene Garter

Kristin Revere, Vice President, Vanguard Public Affairs

Suzanne Richards, Affiliate Professor Educational Leadership, GVSU College of Education

Larry Robson, MD, Doctor of Vascular Surgery

Megan Rogers, Child Life Specialist, Student Program Coordinator, Metro Health Hospital

Megan Sall, Current GVSU Board of Trustees; Project Manager at CQL; former Business Development Manager at The Right Place; CLA Alumna

Dave Smith, Director of Benefits and Wellness, GVSU Human Resources

Lauren Smith, Producer/On-Air Talent, 104.5 SNX

Hilary Snell, Attorney (of Counsel), Varnum LLC, Estate Planning; Chair, Hauenstein Center Advisory Cabinet

Brian Steketee, CEO/Founder, Modustri

Jane Toot, Professor of Physical Therapy, GVSU Honors College

Selma Tucker, Communications Director, Public Sector Consultants; CLA Alumnus

Kyle Van Strien, Co-Owner, Distiller at Long Road Distillers

Kathleen Vogelsang, Chief Investment Officer, Van Andel Institute

John Wardrop, Chair, TEC 53; former President, Sparks Belting Company; former Board Chair, Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids

Heidi Weesies, Communications Professor, Davenport University; DiSC, Leadership, and Mentoring Consultant

Michael Youngblood, Principle Account Manager, Gas Major Accounts, DTE Energy