Spotlights

Honors students at the National University Model Arab League

Honors students Nicole Spear, Coltrane Bodbly-Mast, Riley Wroblewski and Madeleine Tripp joined Dr. Coeli Fitzpatrick at the National University Model Arab League in Washington, DC. Here they are pictured with Haten Elqtawy, the Deputy Chief of Mission for the Egyptian Embassy in DC!

Honors students attend National University Model Arab League in Washington DC

Nicole SpearColtrane Bodlbly-Mast, Riley Wroblewski, and Madeleine Tripp recently attended the National University Model Arab League with Dr. Coeli Fitzpatrick. Congratulations to Nicole Spear and Coltrane Bodlbly-Mast for their award of "outstanding delegate" for their representation of Egypt!


Janelle Cook, a current FMHC student and Geology major, will be sharing her research story at the West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference. Her Student Talk titled “Microscale biogeochemical dance with Earth-scale implications: Modern mat microbes synchronize migration to a diel tempo” is one of six Undergraduate Student Talks at this conference that brings together students and faculty for two days of learning and networking. The talk focuses on a specific growth of bacteria types found only at the bottom of a Lake Huron Sinkhole in northeast Michigan. These bacteria grow in mats that display a curious pattern of migration: during the day, they are covered in a purple photosynthetic cyanobacteria, and at night they are white from sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. We studied the nature of this migration and hypothesized about it's effects on Earth's atmosphere. I was able to work on this project over the summer in Dr. Bopi Biddanda's lab at the Annis Water Resources Institute. For more information visit this website

Janelle Cook head shot

Students wearing Forever Great shirts

An Honors student, Chad Howell, and his peer Jack Kleinrichert were featured in the Summer 2021 edition of the GVNext publication. The team worked together to create Forever Great, a clothing company that creates apparel form 100 percent recycled materials. The company works to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. Howell and Kleinrichert hope to advance their efforts to include removal of plastics from the Great Lakes in an effort to preserve their natural beauty for years to come. Read the full article here

Forever Great logo

An Honors student, Brady Mills, recently returned from a trip to Nicaragua with Dr. Lane. He reflected on his experiences there in this summary:

Dr. Lane has been traveling back and forth to Nicaragua for the past 18 years. There, he has introduced and implemented Design Thinking and Innovation to various communities around the country. Today, he works closely with the Rector (President) of UNAN Managua (The National Autonomous University of Nicaragua) and makes multiple trips each year to carry out different projects for the university. The past couple of weeks, we (Ethan Paras and Brady Mills) were able to travel with and work alongside Dr. Lane in Managua and Esteli.

We helped Dr. Lane develop and execute innovation workshops for university students, faculty, and staff during which participants designed creative preschool buildings for rural Nicaraguan communities, helped artisans sell more products to tourists, and assisted the university’s Center of Research and Study for Health to better reach its surrounding neighborhoods. 

In addition to these workshops, we were able to see a bit of Nicaragua: we traveled to a coffee farm in Miraflor, climbed over famous carvings in Tisey, explored murals in Esteli, met the Minister of the Economy, attended a private concert hosted by the President Ortega’s son, and learned much about the nation’s rich history. 

This trip was full of new experiences and much learning. We’re incredibly grateful that our Design Thinking for Social Product Innovation sequence led us to forge these relationships with Dr. Lane and open the door to opportunities to watch him do exactly what we did in his class, all while enjoying the culture of Nicaragua. We’re excited to contribute where we can and carry these lessons into our own lives. 

Dr. Lane Nicaragua

Kyle Hart, an honors college alumni student, is a member of the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. This organization protects environmental resources in West Michigan, which Kyle became involved with while volunteering for a river cleanup with the WMEAC. Kyle is now a full-time staff member and works with the WMEAC's rain barrel workshops, zero waste initiatives, and stormwater education. During, Kyle's time at GVSU, he majored in Natural Resources Management and served as president of the Student Environmental Coalition. 

Kyle Hart Headshot

GVSU Community Members Recognize Pride Month

Waverly Eubank, a Meijer Honors College student and Meg Marshall, one of our Academic & Enrichment Advisors were recognized in GVNext as doing their part in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment at Grand Valley, From being an RA to presenting at the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference, Waverly has had a positive impact on the campus community. Meg is a member of the LGBT Faculty Staff Association which works to have queer representation throughout campus not only for students, but for other faculty and staff members as well. Read the full article here

Waverly Eubank
Meg Marshall

Chad Howell, an honors student at GVSU and co-founder of Forever Great, is a finalist for the OZY Genius Awards. This national 'Genius Idea' competition is between college students across the nation. A voting period for the competition goes until Sunday, May 16th. The link to vote can be found here, and Chad can be found as 'From trash to clothing: Zero-waste fashion.' The Forever Great brand uses recycled materials and aims for the preservation of the Great Lakes for every future generation to enjoy.

2021 OZY Genius Finalist - Engage Your Supporters

Allison Romanski, a first-year Honors student in the Water for a Changing World sequence, was awarded a $3,000 NASA space grant fellowship for this summer. Allison and Dr. Wampler will be surveying different areas of the Grand River to identify the quality of the water. They will classify the quality based off the measured nutrients and biological indicators under different conditions such as flow rates, season, temperature, and weather, and other environmental conditions that may be unique to a specific section of the river. They will also partner with three different wastewater treatment plants along the river to analyze the samples they collect. By partnering with these wastewater treatment plants, they will have access to advanced lab equipment and the skilled procedures and methods of the wastewater lab workers. The NASA Space Grant Fellowship will provide them with the opportunity to collect data as accurately as possible and create a unique water quality index of the Grand River. Allison is excited to go out and experience collecting data and advancing her lab skills as well as studying the Grand River and learning what changes might need to be made to overall improve the quality of the river. 

Headshot of Allison Romanski

Noah Holkeboer is a second-year Honors College student double-majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology and Biology with an emphasis in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Noah is an undergrad research assistant here at Grand Valley, working primarily with Honors Professor Gary Greer, and he gave a poster presentation at the Van Andel Institute's West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference in November 2020. In this video, Noah presents his poster on photo based comparison of Ginkgo biloba's task optimization versus that of two native species. 

Noah Holkeboer- Photo based comparison of Ginkgo biloba's task optimization versus that of two native species


Micah Fernando, a third-year Honors student majoring in Biochemistry, was recently awarded the competitive Goldwater Scholarship. The Goldwater Scholarship is a national award that supports undergraduates who want to pursue research careers in STEM fields. Micah has spent the past two years working with chemistry professors Rachel Powers and Brad Wallar, assisting with projects on bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Micah is spending the summer working with the Mayo Clinic as a research intern at their campus in Jacksonville, Florida. In the future, Micah would like to pursue a career in research involving drug design and discovery and is on his way to enrolling in a top graduate school. 

Micah Fernando pictured with research presentation during Student Scholars Day

Riley Wells, a graduating honors student majoring in Music, was one of ten singers to make it to Opera Grand Rapids' highly-competitive National Collegiate Competition Final Round last week. Additionally, Riley placed FIRST in the National Association of Teacher's of Singing (NATS) Midwest Regional Voice Competition and is now invited to compete Nationally again. Riley was selected to perform for Opera Grand Rapids' masterclass technician, Arlene Shrut, and successfully auditioned for a highly-desired soloist position at a foremost parish in Grand Rapids. 

Find a link to the video recital here.

Riley Wells Headshot

Zoë Smith is a GVSU and Honors College alumna. She is graduating from medical school at Wayne State this month after working the front lines against COVID-19 at Detroit Medical Center as an intern. Zoë recently matched into a Dermatology residency and will be moving to Philadelphia in July 2021. She is also a small business owner and designer of The Medicine Mug. The Medicine Mug is a go-to gift item for anyone in healthcare. 

The Medicine Mug
Zoe Smith

Joel Stillerman (Honors/Sociology) recently took a new position as the Associate Editor for Sociology at Latin American Research Review (LARR). LARR is the premiere Latin American Studies journal in the U.S. The journal publishes original research and review essays about Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latina/Latino studies. It covers many topics in the social sciences and the humanities. Joel’s many publications, research and teaching experience in Chile, and service in Latin American Studies programs at the University of Arizona and GVSU led him to this new position.  His publications include The Sociology of Consumption: A Global Approach and Que significa el trabajo hoy? (What does Work Mean Today?). You can find more information about Joel Stillerman and his scholarly works here.

Joel Stillerman

Zoe Kilbourne is a former Honors College Student who now is the Manager of Faculty Led Study Tours at DIS in Copenhagen, DK and helped create a DIS-Carleton Partnership study abroad during a Pandemic. Zoe, along with the other faculty members, worked hard to reconstruct what study abroad could look like in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. They created a one-of-a-kind OCS program that sent a cohort of exclusively Carleton students to Copenhagen for a nontraditional and unexpected 2020 fall term. The program confronted many COVID-19-specific worries and was 12 weeks long to include ample opportunities to engage with Copenhagen while taking the interesting course offered by DIS. The result of the partnership was an overwhelming success!

Carleton Students in Copenhagen with DIS

Gabrielle Angel, a first generation college student and member of the Honors college, has been highlighted in a new article on the GVNEXT blog, a publication of Grand Valley State University's University Communications. In the article, "McNair Scholars transition undergraduate research projects to online formats" by Michele Coffill, Gabrielle discusses how the McNair Scholars community has been integral to their academic success in the face of COVID-19. Angel is a senior majoring in women, gender, and sexuality studies at GVSU.

Gabrielle Angel, honors student, working on their research project online

Nate Gillespie, Class of 2018, and now a Senior Analyst of Auxo Investment Partners, is in the early stages with other Grand Valley alumni to organize a “Coronavirus Civilian Corps”. He and others are working to amass a contingency of student and youth volunteers to coordinate safety-conscious assistance for local non-profit and small businesses including a fundraising campaign to support local micro-grants for these same struggling local, small enterprises and entrepreneurs.

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Brittany Hunter, '08, was included in Grand Rapids Business Journal's 40 under 40 class of 2019. She is a Managing Partner at Atomic Object, a custom software design and development consultancy.

Brittany Hunter

Domonique Palmer ('20) graduated from University Prep, where a college-bound culture is emphasized. Palmer was so comfortable with the thought of being a college student she said she took it upon herself to complete her family’s necessary financial aid paperwork.

“I did everything right to prepare myself for college. Money was the biggest obstacle,” Palmer said.

Palmer and her twin sister, Monique Palmer, are the first two from their family to attend college. When they were accepted into Grand Valley, receiving the Thompson scholarship was a huge relief.

“I was not going to be able to go to college without this financial stability. When I work, I can spend money on other things, rather than putting it toward tuition,” Palmer said. 

She will graduate in April with a bachelor’s degree in integrative studies and plans to pursue a master’s degree in student affairs leadership. Palmer said her aspirations are to help students much like herself.

“I would like to work with first-year students who come from limited incomes, and help them access college,” she said. “I want to work with people who don’t see themselves going to college.”

 

Read more about students like Domonique that have benefited from the Thompson Scholarship here.

Palmer laughing with Ellen and Bob Thompson

Student uses grant award to explore medicine in Belize

Christa Fernando used a study abroad experience to explore learning about global health. Read more details here

Christa Fernando

Uyen Pham, '19, has pursued every research opportunity she could find throughout her time at Grand Valley. The international student from Vietnam has worked with her mentor Rachel Powers, professor of chemistry, since her sophomore year, assisting with Powers’ research on bacterial resistance to antibiotics by studying beta-lactamase.

Uyen is a recipient of the Ruth Chamberlain Global Issues Scholarship, which provides assistance to students in the Frederik Meijer Honors College who have shown significant promise and have demonstrated interest in research.

Read more about Uyen's research here

Uyen Pham

Keegan Bauer '19 always dreamed of earning a four-year degree, despite the obstacles she would face as a first-generation student. Growing up in Alpena, Michigan in a single-parent household, she had to figure out how to apply to colleges on her own, as her mother and older siblings had never gone through the process. The first time she visited Grand Valley, Keegan was impressed by all the resources and help she received.

Read more about Keegan's experience as a fist generation college student here.

Keegan Bauer

Growing up spending a lot of time working in the garage with his dad, Johnathan Otterbein, Class of 2020, has been interested in how things work from a young age. Because of this, it only made sense that he chose to be a mechanical engineering major at Grand Valley. He appreciates many aspects of the program, such as the emphasis on hands-on learning, getting to work on exciting projects like building robots, and gaining real-world experiences through the required co-op. The engineering program also offers extra-curriculars like the solar racing team, which Johnathan has been the Lead Design Officer of for two years. 

Read more about Johnathan's experience with the Innovation Design Center here

Johnathan Otterbein and Ryan Aldridge

Anna-Lise Baldwin studied abroad in Bilbao during the Fall 2019 semester. Here is an interview she did with Centro Internacional de Espanol-CIDE regarding her experience. 

Anna-Lise Baldwin in Bilbao

Isabel Thompson has a curiosity about science that keeps her hand in the air during class discussions.

Thompson's curiosity played a large role in her being selected for the national Beckman Scholars Program, a rigorous, 15-month mentored research experience for undergraduate students. Thompson, who is majoring in cell and molecular biology, will receive an award of $21,000 over the course of the program. The program is funded by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation; Grand Valley was selected in 2017 to participate in the program for three years.

Thompson's mentor is Jennifer Moore, associate professor of biology. Thompson said they share a love for amphibians and reptiles, which led to her research project focused on lava lizards in the Galápagos Islands.

Increasing numbers of tourists and land development on the islands has impacted lizards, Thompson said. Her goal is to assess if human interaction has had a distinct effect on the genetics and population levels of lava lizards. Moore visited the islands in 2017 and 2018 to collect samples; Thompson is extracting DNA from those samples.

"The lava lizard is a threatened species," Thompson said. "This work would help inform conservation management plans."

This is not Thompson's first entry-point into research. After her first year at Grand Valley, she worked with Jodee Hunt, professor of biology, over a summer to observe the behavior of large cats at John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids.

Thompson, from Holland, said she has always been comfortable choosing biology as a major. What gave her pause to think was adding a minor. "I settled on anthropology, then statistics at some point. The problem is I like everything and I ask a lot of questions," she said.

Moore said Thompson's passion about research and science will work to her benefit as a researcher.

"Research is born out of strong sense of scientific curiosity, which Isabel embodies," Moore said. "She’s also got the dedication and drive to carry this project through to completion, even over the inevitable speed bumps that are a big part of research."

Susan Mendoza, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship, encouraged Thompson to apply for the Beckman program, which OURS administers. Thompson said completing the essay and interview process was a good challenge.

"It was scary because I was putting myself out there. The process caused me to really think about my place in the scientific community," Thompson said.

Photo of Isabel Thompson

Angel Bista, an international relations major from Grand Haven, Michigan, spent summer 2019 studying Japanese in Okayama, Japan abroad after being awarded the competitive U.S. Department of State's Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). 

The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain skills in languages that are less-commonly taught in U.S. schools but are essential for America’s engagement with the world, contributing to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

Bista was one of only 550 competitively selected American students representing 233 colleges and universities across the U.S. to receive a CLS award. Each CLS scholar spent eight to 10 weeks in one of 26 locations studying Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu.

The program provides funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS scholars serve as citizen ambassadors, representing the diversity of the U.S. abroad and building lasting relationships with people in their host countries. Alumni of the program go on to continue their language study and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

Photo of Angel Bista

Kali Smolen is a 2017 graduate of Frederik Meijer Honors College. After completing her degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB), she began her MD-PhD training at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. This dual degree program is 8-years long and involves 2 years of medical school, followed by completion of a PhD, and then 2 more years of clinical work before applying to residency programs. With her first 2 years of pre-clinical curriculum behind her, she is now working on her graduate studies in the Kettenbach Lab at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center where she studies phosphatase activity in mitosis and how this is involved in various disease states including cancer.

During Kali’s first semester in the Honors College at GV, she took the Food For Thought Honors Sequence that opened her mind to where our food comes from and how food is deeply intertwined with human health and social privilege. This largely influenced her extracurricular involvement at Grand Valley through the Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP) and GVSU Beekeepers and continues to drive Kali’s community involvement outside of the classroom at Dartmouth. Kali says that her Honors College experience taught her to engage in critical discussion with faculty and students, build a strong sense of community, and think about everyday concepts in a way that goes far beyond the surface.   

Kali Smolen headshot

An FMHC alumnus has been awarded a highly competitive scholarship by Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest and most selective collegiate honor society. Scott St. Louis of Midland, Michigan, was selected as a recipient of a Marcus L. Urann Fellowship, named after the society's founder. St. Louis is one of only six recipients nationwide to receive the prestigious $20,000 fellowship. St. Louis received a bachelor's degree in history from Grand Valley State University, and also served as the program manager for the university's Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies. As a Urann Fellow, St. Louis will pursue a master's degree in information at University of Michigan. Since its creation in 1932, the Fellowship Program has become one of the honor society's most visible and financially well-supported endeavors, allocating $615,000 annually to outstanding students for first-year graduate or professional study. The selection process for a fellowship is based on the applicant's evidence of graduate potential, undergraduate academic achievement, service and leadership experience, letters of recommendation, personal statement of educational perspective and career goals, and acceptance in an approved graduate or professional program. "I am tremendously grateful to The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, as well as the faculty and staff of Grand Valley State University, for the very generous Marcus L. Urann Fellowship," St. Louis said. "This award will open up an abundance of possibilities during my time in graduate school." Phi Kappa Phi Fellowships are part of the society's award programs, which give nearly $1 million each year to outstanding members and students on chapter campuses through study abroad grants, dissertation fellowships, funding for post-baccalaureate development, member and chapter awards, and grants for local, national and international literacy initiatives.

Scott St. Louis headshot

Christa M. Fernando, of Kentwood, Michigan, was recently awarded a study abroad grant worth $1,000 from The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, a collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Fernando is one of 75 students nationwide to receive the award. The grants are designed to support undergraduates from campuses that have Phi Kappa Phi chapters, as they seek expanded knowledge and experience in their academic fields by studying abroad. Fernando is a senior majoring in biomedical sciences, and will use the grant to study abroad at the Sacred Heart College in San Ignacio, Belize.The selection process for a study abroad grant is based on the applicant’s academic achievement, campus and community service, relation of travel to academic preparation and career goals, a personal statement, letters of recommendation and acceptance into a study abroad program. Each recipient receives $1,000 to be applied toward travel abroad. Established in 2001, the Study Abroad Grant Program has awarded more than $875,000 to undergraduate students. The grants are part of the Society’s portfolio of award programs, which gives nearly $1 million each year to outstanding students and members through graduate and dissertation fellowships, funding for post-baccalaureate development, and grants for local, national and international literacy initiatives.

Christa Fernando headshot

A FMHC student has received scholarship money from the nationally competitive Goldwater Scholars program. Shea Siwik, a junior majoring in biochemistry,earned $7,500 from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Goldwater Scholars (496 chosen nationally this year from a pool of 5,000 students) are nominated by faculty members, have strong academic and research backgrounds and will likely enroll in graduate schools. The last time Grand Valley students were selected as Goldwater Scholars was in 2012.

Siwik, from Portage, works in the research lab of Paul Cook, associate professor of chemistry, characterizing enzymes involved in the production of a compound called bacillithiol, which several disease-causing bacteria use to destroy certain antibiotics. Siwik will spend the summer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as part of the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. Cook said he has confidence that Siwik will achieve her plan to earn a doctoral degree in biochemistry and then teach at a research university. "Shea stood out to me as a great candidate for the Goldwater Scholarship," Cook said. "She has done great work in my lab, and she is another example of the extraordinary research students we have at Grand Valley.”

Named in honor of former Sen. Barry Goldwater, Goldwater Scholars often earn prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 92 Rhodes Scholarships, 137 Marshall Awards, 159 Churchill Scholarships, 104 Hertz Fellowships, and numerous other distinguished awards like the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

Shea Siwik headshot

Benjamin Scott-Brandt, a Liberal Studies major in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, has received the prestigious Glenn A. Niemeyer Undergraduate Student Award. Named for the first Provost of GVSU, the Niemeyer Awards honor faculty and students who strive for excellence in all aspects of a well-rounded academic experience. Students selected for the Niemeyer Awards are well-rounded individuals with demonstrated excellence in both the classroom and extra-curricular activities.

Specializing in the study of sacred spaces, Ben is also a songwriter, hairstylist and intern at GVSU's Campus Interfaith Resources. Ben is a first-generation college student graduating this spring, and he hopes to continue exploring the role of sacred space here in West Michigan. Congratulations, Ben!

Benjamin Scott-Brandt headshot

Emily Larson is a graduate of the Honors College in 2012. Emily is now a senior advisor leading the schools brief at BIT (The Behavioural Insights Team) in England. Before joining BIT, Emily ran an international organisation that brought together leaders in the fields of education, policy and psychology to promote teaching character and wellbeing in schools. Emily has expertise in the fields of wellbeing, character development and designing large scale behavioral interventions. She has worked for over seven years to develop, employ and test interventions for educators in Nepal, India, Thailand, the Philippines, the UK, and the USA. Emily graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with her Masters in Positive Psychology. She has taught as an assistant instructor at the University of Pennsylvania for three years, sits on the board of Governors for a school in South London and is an Advisory Board member at the S P Jain Centre for the Science of Happiness in India.

Emily Larson headshot

Elizabeth "Biz" Stolz, an Honors student, is working to make Disney the most magical place on Earth. Read more about her work here

Elizabeth Stolz posing with Mickey and Minnie mouse

Lindsey Short graduated from Grand Valley with a major in Biomedical Science in April 2018. During her college career she was a part of the Honors college, studied abroad in Ghana in summer 2017, and was able to create her own research project. She has been working in Dr. Daniel Bergman's research lab for the past two years looking at chemical communication between crayfish.

Since graduation, she has expanded her research into looking at pheromones that are released during confrontation between a turtle and crayfish and seeing if it is interpreted as an alarm to other crayfish. In January 2019 she was able to present at the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology conference in Tampa, Florida.

Lindsey Short headshot

Lauren Robb (far right) is Pre-Medicine, Honors student majoring in Biomedical Sciences and previously studied abroad with the Honors program to Ghana in 2016. This past weekend, Robb presented her research with Professor Martin Burg and Brittany VandenBerg at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Francisco.

Lauren Robb presenting her research

Nathan (‘14) and Alice (‘15) Kalinowski met while living in Niemeyer and married in 2015. 

Nathan, from Garden City, MI majored in Biomedical Science and worked as an RA in Honors for three years. After graduating from GVSU, he attended Dental School at the University of Pittsburgh. Currently, Nathan is completing a residency at Yale University’s hospital system in New Haven, Connecticut.

Alice, from Canton, MI majored in History with a double minor in Advertising and Public Relations and Non-Profit Administration. She then completed the Master of Library and Information Science program at the University of Pittsburgh. Alice is now a business librarian at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in Palo Alto, California.

We both enjoyed our time at GVSU and the Honors College where we made lasting connections with students, faculty, and staff. The teaching emphasis and outside-of-the-classroom opportunities prepared us well for our paths after graduation. 

Nathan and Alice Kalinowski standing together

Inuksuks

Games in the Circumpolar World Honors Junior seminar students built small Inuksuks in their class, taught by Professor John Kilbourne, to help guide them towards a meaningful future. Inuksuks are a structure of rough stones in the form of a human figure, traditionally used by Inuit people as a landmark or a commemorative sign. Inuksuks serve as Arctic Light Houses. They guide Inuit to good hunting grounds, warn of areas of danger, or where food might be cached (buried). 

John Kilbourne's class holding small Inuksuks they made in class

Cullin Flynn

Cullin graduated from the Frederik Meijer Honor's College with a B.A. in Spanish, and Minors in Natural Resources Management and Applied Linguistics. After two years of study abroad in Costa Rica and Mexico, he is currently in South Germany as a participant in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange. For the internship phase of this program, Cullin has chosen to work with cargo bike manufacturer Radkutsche. This year he was recruited to play as a striker for football club TSV Altingen and also secured two scholarships to attend Model UN conferences in Bonn and Nuremberg, both of which have given an international perspective to his interests in sustainability and agriculture.

During his first semester at GVSU, Cullin visited an Honors Sequence with his roommate and was blown away by the dynamic engagement and rapport between student and professor. After a couple of conversations with the legendary duo of Dr. J and Janaan Decker, he enrolled in the program. Cullin explored metaphor in early scripture during his Junior Seminar “Terror of Monotheism” and later used his Honors Senior Project to involve campus fraternities and sororities in a volunteer tree planting project at the GVSU Sustainable Agriculture Project. The result: an orchard of over 100 fruit and nut trees still managed at “The Farm.”

Cullin Flynn headshot

Leah Beaulac

Leah Beaulac has spent nearly three years in various Middle Eastern countries, through study abroad, scholarships, volunteering, an internship, and now in a professional capacity. The combination of her educational pursuits (Biology) and language acquisition (Arabic) has led to her current position at REACH initiatives, an international, non-governmental organization. She is currently working on the Jordan team, where they partner with organizations such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations organizations, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), and numerous other NGOs in order to assess priority development concerns throughout Jordan.

She graduated from the Frederik Meijer Honor's College at Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, and Minors in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, for which she was selected outstanding senior in those areas of study. During University, she interned at the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Amman, Jordan, focusing on Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) sector needs. Here she was able to access the research tools necessary for the completion of her honors senior thesis The Impact of Syrian Migration on Water Demand in Northern Jordan, which was published in the Winter 2017 edition of Boston College Al-Noor Journal of Undergraduate Research.  Leah hopes to continue to work on complex humanitarian problems by assessing the impact of limited water resources on key development issues such as education, agriculture, and long-term sustainability plans.

Leah Beaulac standing on stairs

Emily LeFevere

Emily LeFevere graduated twice from GVSU!  In 2008 Emily was an Honors College student who earned her BA in Spanish & Information Systems, and in 2015 completed her M.S. in Computer Information Systems.  Immediately after graduating with her undergraduate degree, Emily joined Steelcase as an intern. At the end of that summer, she was offered a full-time position with the company.  For six years Emily worked in Infrastructure, where she enjoyed coming up with strategies to automate and improve Steelcase’s business processes.  In the back of her mind however, she really wanted to do software development.  After acquiring web development skills in her M.S. course work at GVSU, and with the encouragement of her management,  she transitioned to a team that develops web apps and APIs within Steelcase.  She has worked in this role as a web developer for three years now, and it is a job she thoroughly enjoys.

As an Honors College student Emily enjoyed the foundation courses that tied all the standard requirements together with an interesting theme and unique project. She felt like she benefited from being part of a smaller community that shared a living space and classroom space where she made a lot of lifelong friends. One of her favorite course was Honors Geology, which ended with a memorable three week hiking trip out West that tied together everything she learned that semester. Participating on the Honors Council was also a great opportunity, she felt, to work together with fellow students and collaborate with faculty. 

Emily LeFevere Headshot


Page last modified April 13, 2022