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GRBJ: GVSU students' summer in the city

Semester in Grand Rapids offered educational experience regarding history of city, community programs.
Credit: Courtesy of GRBJ
GVSU student Sarah Stromski works in the Garden of Eatin’ at The Other Way Ministries, where she performed her summer internship.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — (GRBJ) - Grand Valley State University recently wrapped the pilot year of a summer program that gives students immersive experiences in Grand Rapids.

In the inaugural year of the Semester in Grand Rapids program, a cohort of seven students lived in the Grand Rapids area, studied the city's history, learned from city and business leaders, and completed nonprofit internships.

“The entire program is community engaged with a social justice lens,” said Kristin Moretto, director of the office for community partnerships.

The students had a tour of Grand Rapids, learned about the WestSide Collaborative and Senior Neighbors, visited the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives and learned about the services offered through nonprofits like Dwelling Place, Guiding Light and Dégagé.

The students had lunch sessions with several community leaders, including George Heartwell, Kurt Reppart, Jim Davis, Ryan VerWys, Stephen Wooden, Jon O’Connor, Jermale Eddie and Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss.

Moretto said students learned about the city and then actively applied the classroom theories to internships at such organizations as The Other Way Ministries, YMCA, Home Repair Services and the Cook Arts Center.

SIGR is coordinated by GVSU’s office for community partnerships and student professional development, housed in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, and is based on the similar Semester in Detroit model at the University of Michigan.

Moretto said she spent a lot of time speaking with faculty from University of Michigan to help establish the program.

“The program allows students to understand how community history is shaped and how it impacts the lives of residents,” Moretto said. “They can see how classroom learning applies in the community and through their experiences at internship sites.”

For the whole story, pick up a copy of the Grand Rapids Business Journal, or find the story on their website. 


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