Student Highlights and Alumni

Program Highlights

In addition to balancing work and families, many of the students in the accelerated cohort have also engaged in activities like research and community engagement.  Read below to learn more about some of the highlighted activities of students and Faculty in the Integrative Studies Accelerated leadership Cohort.

Accelerated Cohort Alumni are encouraged to keep in touch with GVSU.  Please let us know what you are up to by entering your information for our Alumni Directory and let us know about any promotions or projects you've been involved in that we can spotlight!

If you need to update your current information in the Alumni Directory, please e-mail Kate VanDerKolk at  Thank you.


Award Winning Students

Ellen winning award

Ellen Siemon is pictured with President Haas after receiving the 2019 Liberal Studies Academic Excellence Award

Tova Award

Tova Jones is awarded the Positive Black Women's Scholarship

Four students competed in the 2018 Laker Effect Challenge and won $1,000 in support of their work at Harrison Park and with the Challenge Scholars Program.

Their project seeks to make college an attainable goal for Grand Rapids’ Harrison Park students. This fall they visited the school and engaged in community dialogues. They received feedback focused on the financial burdens attached to school uniforms and how these barriers have exacerbated problems with chronic absenteeism at Harrison Park. Since then they have been working with the KSSN director and the College/Career coordinator at Harrison Park in order to create a uniform swap program at the school scheduled to go live during their summer orientation. 

Students recieving Check

Steven Scholten, Tami Chase, Bridgett Shafer, and Anthony Michael on the Harrison Park Uniform Project.


Congratulations Anessa Fehsenfeld, winner of the 2017 Liberal Studies Outstanding Students Award

Todd Talsma

Todd Talsma, the 2016 award winner of the Outstanding Adult Learner Award which is awarded by an area consortium of colleges and universities

lisa garringer outstanding adult learner award

Lisa Garringer, the 2017 award winner of the Outstanding Adult Learner Award which is awarded by an area consortium of colleges and universities

Grace Johnson found a job that capitalizes on her leadership skills and passion for neighborhood revitalization. Her role as economic development specialist for Neighborhood Ventures sprung from Johnson's internship with the organization. Read the full article about here experiences.  Through her time in the accelerated cohort Grace also had the opportunity to present at the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies conference with a team of several faculty members. 

Grace Johnson

Richard Campbell

Richard Campbell, a student in the Liberal Studies Accelerated Leadership Cohort program, connected his engineering firm with Disability Network-Lakeshore (DNL) to develop a product that streamlines the process of installing permanent residential wheelchair ramps which often difficult. 

Read the full story on how the CAD model is simplifying the process for residents to acquire a building permit before installation.

Tim Eernise job

Award Winning Program


Community Partner: Challenge Scholars, Harrison Park Elementary, West Grand Neighborhood Organization
Academic Department: Liberal Studies

Over an intensive 19-month period, students in the Accelerated Liberal Studies Leadership Program complete their degrees in the context of deep community partnerships. Faculty and students in the Grand Rapids cohort work closely with the Grand Rapids Community Foundation Challenge Scholars program, Harrison Park School, and the West Grand Neighborhood Organization to develop skills leaders use and communities require. These include listening, dialogue, understanding context, and prototyping and testing interventions. Now in its third year, this multi-course partnership has led to ongoing student initiatives, such as a Walking School Bus program and Housing Resource Kits in both English and Spanish. Learners are transformed from consuming knowledge to co-producing knowledge and are empowered as local change-agents and civic leaders.

Award Winning Faculty

Faculty Highlights