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+ Grand Valley 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 40 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 Varnum Consulting.
- 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 Economics Club of Grand Rapids, the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, and our accomplished alumni.
If you would like to learn more about the Cook Leadership Academy, please contact Chadd Dowding at email@example.com or (616) 331-7087.
Leadership Fellows in the 2015-16 Cook Leadership Academy
Fatouma Abdoulaye – Cell and Molecular Biology
Fatouma is a senior student who transferred from Washtenaw Community College (WCC) to study cell and molecular biology at Grand Valley University. She is an international student from Niger and she has been living in the USA for 4 years. Fatouma’s dream is to eradicate Obstetric Fistula from the world. Obstetric Fistula is a disease that makes thousands of victims each year. After earning her bachelor’s degree, Fatouma intends to return home and volunteer for several months at the National Hospital of Niger. She then will go to a medical school where she will first study gynecology and then she will study uro-gynecology. She was awarded the Jack Kent Cooke undergraduate transfer scholarship, which helped her to enroll at GVSU. Fatouma spends her free time working at peer help sessions and volunteering at Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor. She was the president of the international students peer group at WCC. In addition, she has organized fundraising events for the Nigerien Association of Michigan. Fatouma is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, which was listed in Who’s Who among American Colleges and Universities in 2013. Furthermore, she earned a listing on WCC’s High Honors. She is a member of the African student council and the International Student Organization at GVSU. Fatouma feels that being a member of the Cook Leadership Program will not only allow her to build more leadership skills, but also meet with other leaders and extend more of her worldview.
Mohamed Azuz – Communications engineering, Computer Information Systems
Mohamed is an international student from Tripoli, Libya. He studied electrical engineering at Tripoli University and is now pursuing a degree in computer information systems at Grand Valley State University. Mohamed serves as president and founder of the Photography Student Organization. His photography can be seen on the GVSU website, and most recently, was displayed at the Red Wall Gallery in Allendale. He also served as President of the GVSU International Student Organization, and the Financial Committee Chair of the Association of International Students Organizations in the United States. Having been an Eagle Scout in Libya, he volunteers his time with the Cub Scouts in Jenison. He is honored to serve as a US Department of State Alumni, having been a student in the NESA UGRAD Program. His interests also include cancer awareness, and he has served as a team leader in the Libyan Cancer Society. Joining the Cook Leadership Academy will help him to develop leadership, communication, and community engagement skills, which will help him attain his future goals of assisting in rebuilding Libya after the revolution.
Kaitlin Balboa – Human Resources Management and International Business
Katie Balboa is entering her senior year at Grand Valley State University as a double major in human resource management and international business with a minor in French. Though her family has moved throughout Michigan most her life, she currently lives in Royal Oak. She has been the business manager at the Grand Valley Lanthorn for two years as well as a member of the Honors College for three years. She was a direct admit into the Seidman College of Business where she is a member of the Student Leadership Executive Development program and the Seidman Mentorship program. Katie was inducted into the Grand Valley chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa in 2015. Upon entering her final year at Grand Valley, Katie plans to use her experience and connections within human resources to interview recruiters at companies in Michigan to find out what a Grand Valley student should do to prepare to get hired after graduating. This past summer she returned to the Kaufman Financial Group where she was welcomed back as a human resources intern. She looks forward to the opportunities she will be granted as a fellow in the Cook Leadership Academy and is eager to see what her final year at Grand Valley will bring.
Leah Beaulac – Biology
Leah is a senior biology major with minors in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies. As a student, she is an e-board member of the Model Arab league, a member of the Arab Cultural Club, she also volunteers for events with the Environmental Coalition and the Helen Devos Children’s Hospital. She grew up in Owosso, Michigan, a community that supported engaging in the arts, helping her to develop a strong appreciation for music, art and theater. She is a classically trained pianist, as well as a recipient of several art awards including the 2012 U.S. Congressional Art Award. She has a strong interest in learning about other countries, cultures and languages. She has traveled to 14 different countries and spent last summer studying Arabic in Muscat, Oman. Next academic year, she will study abroad in Amman, Jordan on the Barbara H. Padnos International Scholarship and the National Security Education Program David L. Boren Scholarship. While living in Jordan, she will be able to increase her fluency in Arabic and pursue an internship with an international environmental NGO. Working with foreign environmental agencies and local communities will provide unique insight on sustainability issues facing the Middle East. Her study abroad experience will serve as a valuable asset as she pursues graduate programs in international environmental policy. Ultimately, she looks forward to using her knowledge of the Middle East and proficiency in Arabic to effectively address both humanitarian and environmental issues related to clean water access, sustainable food supplies, and public health on a global scale. She looks forward to building upon her leadership skills with the Cook Leadership Academy, an organization that she believes does a wonderful job of connecting students with leadership experiences and opportunities.
Maria Beelen – Geology
Maria is a senior at Grand Valley State University studying geology, as well as women, gender and sexuality studies. With these degrees she hopes to go into hydrology and eventually science communications. She sits as the Vice-President for Educational Affairs on Grand Valley’s Student Senate, and as the President of Women in STEM Fields at GVSU. She also works in the Office of Student Life as a leadership programmer. Her passion lies within alternative learning such as, Kahn Academy, the Cosmos, and NPR’s Radio Lab and Science Friday. She hopes to promote women in leadership and more specifically women in STEM fields.
DeMario Bell – English
DeMario is currently a senior at Grand Valley State University majoring in English language and literature. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan where he is a proud product of the Detroit Public Schools. He graduated from Detroit School of Arts, internationally renowned performing arts high school where R&B singer Aaliyah graduated. In DeMario’s first two years at Grand Valley he was a Resident Assistant at Kirkpatrick Living Center where he enjoyed introducing first-year students to their college experience. He was a Student Senator serving on both Campus Affairs and Senate Resources committees. DeMario was previously a Student Representative on GV’s Faculty Governance, Faculty Salary and Budget Committee. He currently serves on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Student Advisory Committee. DeMario embodies what it means to be a Laker for a Lifetime and carries out that school pride in the community and abroad. Aside from being active in the Grand Valley community, DeMario has started his own non-profit which tutors and mentors students ages 10-18 years. He believes a successful life is being able to give back, one of his core values. DeMario looks forward to maximizing his experience with the Cook Leadership Academy by availing each opportunity and working collaboratively with other fellows and mentors. Upon graduation from Grand Valley, DeMario plans to continue a career in either fundraising or human resources. He currently works for Grand Valley’s University Development Office.
Rachel Bills – Communication
Rachel is a senior at Grand Valley this fall with a major in communications and a minor in advertising and public relations. She was born in Michigan but raised in Nebraska, GO HUSKERS! Her family moved back to Michigan when she was 9, and she spent the rest of her childhood on the east side of the state, Auburn Hills to be exact. Her mother worked in Marketing and her father was a teacher. She loves being active and spending time outdoors. Her passions include music, movies, literature, giving back, and helping others. She hopes to always continue growing as a person, whether that be in her professional or personal life, she hopes to never plateau. She is a firm believer that duct tape fixes everything, cowboy’s never cry, and you should always move forward no matter what life throws in your way.
Sierra Bulson – Political Science
Sierra Bulson is a West Michigan native, born in Holland and raised in the small town of Hamilton where she graduated high school in 2013. Sierra is entering her junior year in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University. Ms. Bulson is pursuing her Bachelor’s in political science along with two minors in international relations and criminal justice. She recently completed an internship on the Ready to Run Michigan planning committee through which she was able to help train and encourage women to run for elected office. Sierra has received many honors and awards in her two years at Grand Valley, including: the GV Award of Excellence, GV Presidential Scholarship, the “I am Grand Valley” award and, most recently, the John T. Batchelder Political Science Scholarship. She has been on the Dean’s List every semester and was a Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Freshman Honoree in 2014. Sierra is actively involved in GVSU’s International Relations Organization and is a member of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity. In the Fall 2015 semester, Sierra will be studying European politics at Charles University in Prague where she looks forward to expanding her small town perspective and embracing all the Czech Republic has to offer.
Colette Cascarilla – Masters in Business Administration
Colette grew up in Mason, Michigan, a small town near Lansing. She attended the University of Michigan for her undergraduate degree, majoring in social and cognitive psychology. Now she is pursuing a Masters in Business Administration at GVSU and working as a graduate assistant in the Seidman College of Business undergraduate advising center. She is dedicated to the Graduate Student Association where she serves as the vice president. GSA promotes interdisciplinary cross collaboration for all graduate students, which is one of her main passions at Grand Valley. After graduating, she hopes to find a position that utilizes her leaderships skills in corporate America.
Kristen Childs – International Relations / DeVos Endowed Fellow
Kristen is a junior at Grand Valley State University studying international relations and geographic information systems, with a minor in international business. She is also a member of the Frederik Meijer Honors College. Kristen grew up in Plymouth, Michigan, where she graduated from Canton High School in 2012. Before attending Grand Valley, she embarked on her first major adventure by living abroad for a year as a foreign exchange student in Arequipa, Peru as part of a Rotary Student Exchange. Always up for a challenge, she continues to jump at every opportunity at Grand Valley, participating in activities such as sailing, backpacking, and ballroom dance. Kristen most recently worked with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation interning in International Trade Development. Her future career aspirations lie in the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) toward the understanding and communication of environmental and human phenomenon. She is also developing her language skills (currently Spanish and German) to enhance her ability to work with others from around the world. Kristen looks forward to fostering her leadership skills through the Cook Leadership Academy by networking with community and student leaders, with the goal of understanding how others choose to be bold, strive for success, and foster leadership in others. As a second year fellow, she is very grateful for the many opportunities that the Academy offers, and believes that the pursuit of learning outside the classroom is just as beneficial as what is taught at university. In her spare time, Kristen can always be found singing, enjoying the outdoors, meeting new people, and seizing the next exciting opportunity that comes her way!
Kathryn Christopher – Product Design and Manufacturing Engineering / Whitney Endowed Fellow
Kathryn Christopher, more commonly called KC, is a senior pursuing a major in product design and manufacturing engineering. She was born and raised in Portage, Michigan and graduated from Portage Central High School with an International Baccalaureate Diploma. She received her Associate’s Degree in liberal arts from Kalamazoo Valley Community College where she was also the recipient of the Presidential Award for student athletes in 2011. She then transferred to Grand Valley State University that same year. She strives to be involved in a variety of activities on campus and in the Grand Rapids community. She played on the varsity softball teams at both KVCC and GVSU and is still actively involved with both teams. KC started a company, Fluition LLC, with four other GVSU students in 2014, and they are currently creating a medical device that they hope to have on the market within the next year. She has also spent time working as an intern at Eaton Corporation, Xaerus Fluids, and Charter House Innovations. Her curious and creative spirit have sparked her interests in a variety of fields including law, sustainability, entrepreneurship, and design. KC has a passion for learning and plans to continue her education after graduating with her B.S.E. in 2015. KC also enjoys running, camping, and crafting and you can find her frequenting the downtown breweries with friends, jogging around campus, or attending one of the many local sporting events.
Maddie Cleghorn – Political Science
Maddie is in her senior year at Grand Valley State University, pursuing a degree in political science and a minor in Spanish. Originally from Grand Haven, she is a West Michigan native, but loves to explore. Last summer, Maddie spent two months studying abroad in Spain, where she traveled to vibrant cities and countries, practiced her Spanish, and had a blast exploring new cultures. Aside from the Cook Leadership Academy, Maddie is an active member of Phi Mu Fraternity, where she previously served as Vice President. She also currently serves as the Student Senate President, where she is fortunate to work with a group of ambitious leaders who strive to ensure the student voice is continuously heard at GVSU. Maddie appreciates good books, strong cups of coffee, live music, and Michigan summers. She is an avid distance runner and hopes to run her first marathon within the next few years. After her time at GVSU, Maddie hopes to attend law school, taking with her a passion for public policy, community relations, and advocacy.
Julie Cole – Biomedical Sciences and Classics
Julie is a dual major at Grand Valley pursuing degrees in biomedical sciences and classics. Julie grew up in Clarkston, Michigan, where she attended the Clarkston Math, Science and Technology academy throughout high school. During her experience at this academy Julie developed a passion for science and medicine, which led her to participate in Grand Valley’s pre-medical program. While at Grand Valley Julie has had the opportunity to complete two industry internships in the fields of medical devices and pharmaceuticals. She has worked in the research & development labs for Becton Dickinson and within the Global Regulatory Labeling function for Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals. Julie is also involved in university research working with Candida albicans under the mentorship of Dr. Thomas. Julie is interested in pursuing a career in medicine in which she hopes to work in Emergency Medicine. In her free time Julie also enjoys volunteering at the Helen Devos Children’s hospital, running, and crocheting.
Micaela Cole – Political Science
Micaela is a sophomore at Grand Valley State University. She is majoring in political science and is a member of the Frederik Meijer Honors College. Before attending Grand Valley, Micaela grew up in East Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she was able to participate in her high school’s “We The People” Team and represent Michigan at the national competition in 2014. At Grand Valley, Micaela helps other students study abroad as a peer adviser in the Padnos International Center. She also works with administrators at Lakeside Elementary and Breton Elementary in East Grand Rapids to promote youth literacy and reading for pleasure. Micaela is a part of the Beaver Island Club of Grand Rapids, which organizes an annual event to raise funds for emergency services on Beaver Island, Michigan. Next year, Micaela will continue studying Political Science in Galway, Ireland as a Padnos International Scholar. She is excited to foster her leadership skills and meaningfully engage with other students and community members through the Cook Leadership Academy.
Jonathan Cook – Finance and Accounting / Titche Endowed Fellow
Jonathan enjoys his time learning in the classroom, but his curiosity drives him to further his education outside of the university setting. This explains Jonathan’s semester-long departure from Grand Valley to pursue a full-time internship with Google. Jonathan plans to return in 2016 to finish his degree in finance, accounting and management information systems. He plans to build on his diverse base of knowledge to find sustainable solutions for the world’s most wicked problems. When he isn’t working or developing his startup, you can find Jonathan at the local dance studio.
Yulia Conley – Economics; Urban Planning and Mathematical Statistics
Yulia Conley is a senior at Grand Valley, pursuing her double-degree in economics and urban planning with a minor in mathematical statistics. Yulia currently serves as the Chair of the regional Michigan student committee for the American Planning Association and is a member of National Society of Collegiate Scholars, International Geographic Honor Society and International Honor Society for Economics. Her passion for cities and international development comes from early childhood. She grew up in both ultra-urban and semi-rural Russia and was exposed to numerous landscapes and cultures of European and Asian cities, while travelling as a ball-room dancing and singing performer with a Children’s Musical Theater Zadumka. Yulia is interested in anything related to sustainable city planning and has initiated a variety of projects as the President of Urban Planning Association on campus. Among those projects is the Global Cities Conference that took place in March 2015 and gathered attendees from GVSU, local high schools and the greater Grand Rapids community, including Mayor Heartwell (he was the keynote for the event) to discuss the challenges communities all around the globe face in the 21st century and to initiate a dialogue for action-oriented solutions for resiliency and equitable development of those communities. She is most interested currently by the international planning challenges related to changes in climate, such as the rising sea level and its threat to coastal environments of developing countries. Yulia considers herself a global citizen and strives to bring a critical and intercultural perspective to all elements of her life and study.
Brody Cragg – Economics
Brody Cragg is from the village of Oakley, Michigan. He is majoring in economics with an honors emphasis and a minor in LGBTQ Studies. After receiving his undergraduate degree, Brody plans on going to law school to become an attorney specializing in litigation regarding minorities of any sort and their welfare in the United States. His academic areas of interest include politics, economics, environmental studies, gender and sexual minorities. The organizations he is a part of include GVSU’s Student Environmental Coalition where he serves as the Vice President, the Black Sheep satire newspaper where he serves as writer and deliverer, and the GVSU Running Club. Additionally, Brody is a student ambassador who gives tours of campus to prospective students. He enjoys athletics, especially running and swimming, and competes in road races of varying distances. Brody likes to keep busy and active as shown by his involvements on campus!
Dallas Davis – Liberal Studies: International Conflict Resolution
Dallas a senior in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University dual-majoring in German and liberal studies with an emphasis in international conflict resolution. Dallas grew up in Lansing, Michigan and graduated in 2012 from Holt High School where he was involved in the National Honors Society and year-round athletics. Since starting his education at Grand Valley, his desire to learn more about the world and its international systems has grown tremendously. He has been a member of the Grand Valley Men’s Rugby Club at Grand Valley for four years, and has recently become involved with the international student organizations on campus. From September 2014 until August 2015, Dallas studied for a year in Munich, Germany. He is an employee at Grand Valley’s Padnos International Center and he plans to take part in another study abroad program to Punjab within the next year, allowing him to further his understanding of the world. After graduation, Dallas would like to attend a masters program emphasizing international policy and security. Dallas considers the Cook Leadership Academy to be an exceptional opportunity to transition from student life to professional life and he is excited to see where this experience takes him.
Matthew Donahue – Masters of Health Sector Management
Matthew Donahue is currently pursuing his MBA in health sector management through Grand Valley State University. Previously he received his Bachelor of business administration in operations management from GVSU in 2008. As a first-year fellow, Matthew looks forward to the many personal and professional benefits of committing to the Cook Leadership Academy’s development-based programming. While he thoroughly enjoys his role as an MBA student and Logistics Supervisor for Van Andel Institute, Matthew most appreciates spending quality time with his family in and around East Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Katherine Durham – International Business
Katherine (Katie) Durham is a second year fellow and a leader in training. Currently residing at Aquinas College as a junior, she is studying art and business in the pursuit of a profession in which she will be able to work with her true passions: art, travelling, and ice cream. At Aquinas, she was a member of the Regina Area Council, is the On Campus Public Relations Manager and Vice President of the Art Club, and a dedicated feeder of the resident ducks and squirrels. Before she transferred to Aquinas, she spent her freshman year at Western Michigan University. There, she was accepted into the Lee’s Honor College, was a member of the Student Leadership Advisory Board, Alpha Lambda Delta (NHS), Campus Activities Board, Western HEROES, and the reputable Squirrel Club. Every semester of college, thus far, she has been on the Dean’s List. These days she balances her busy days of class, extra curricular activities, and schoolwork with family, friends, and the frequent consumption of desserts.
Dana Eardley – Public and Nonprofit Administration and Liberal Studies: Sustainable Food Systems / Hauenstein Endowed Fellow
Dana is a senior in the Frederik Meijer Honors College who finds great value in receiving an interdisciplinary education that allows her to employ systems thinking when addressing complex problems. Dana is working towards identifying ways that we can work across the boundaries of nonprofit, business, and governmental organizations in order to resolve social inequities, specifically those relating to food access. Dana has further explored this concept by interning at Good Life Ranch, the Sustainable Agriculture Project at GVSU, Baxter Community Center, Local First of West Michigan, and the YMCA Farmers Market. As Dana enters her third year in the CLA, she is eager to work closely with other fellows to explore new ideas through lenses that differ from her own.
Devon Fata – Communications and Psychology
Devon Fata is studying communications and psychology at Grand Valley State University. He works as the Student Manager for University Development’s Telephone Outreach Program, overseeing students who promote donations and ensure active relations with GVSU alumni. Devon understands the importance of deep quality connections, and communication that goes beyond the level of basic information. He approaches problems with creative and innovative solutions, working hard to find strategies that are progressive and beneficial to the Grand Rapids area. Having studied and traveled in the United Kingdom, and ventured into every corner of Grand Rapids, he understands the power and importance of diverse cultures. Devon is passionate about high impact initiatives and sustainable growth for small businesses, which result in international and purposeful community. You can find Devon exploring the local street markets, hiking the Michigan coastline, and diving into the Word of Jesus. He believes in good food, better coffee, and happy people.
Hannah Fernando – Liberal Studies
Hannah Fernando is 20 years old and has completed two years at Grand Valley State University. Since beginning a new stage in her education at Grand Valley State University, she has started a major in liberal studies where she is composing her own program centered on sustainable food systems. Being raised in a diverse home with a multiracial background, she has been exposed to very different cultures, foods, and traditions. Growing up, food was more than physical nourishment, it was a means to developing community. Her love for food has matured with her, evolving from a love of good food, to a passion for good nutrition, to a conviction for food justice. She is currently combining a collection of consciously selected classes, thoroughly researched internships, and diverse network of extraordinary community leaders to build a foundation for her future. She is excited for the chance to learn more in the Cook Leadership Program so she can go into her community and offer her education as a means to gain welfare in the city.
Shay Gallagher – Master of Public Administration
Shay Gallagher is currently pursuing a Masters of public administration, with an expected graduation date of April 2016. Shay grew up in the small town of Elk Rapids in Northern Lower Michigan, where he also attended high school. Shay is a 2013 alumnus of Grand Valley State University where he majored in Political Science with a minor in International Relations. He was a founding member of the Sigma Kappa Chapter of Kappa Sigma at Grand Valley. During his undergraduate career Shay served as the Fundraising and Risk Management chairs for Kappa Sigma. He was also a political intern at the Kent GOP. With a strong commitment to public management Shay joined the International City/County Managers Association Graduate Student Chapter at GVSU and is the current President for the 2015-2016 academic year. Shay’s future career goals include working as a GIS professional, public manager, or as an analyst with a local government entity. Shay’s ultimate career goal is to work as a city manager in Michigan.
Angel Gamon – Political Science and Communication Studies
Angel Gamon is a senior at Grand Valley State University majoring in political science and communication studies. He is from Coldwater, Michigan but was born in Bakersfield, California. He will be attending law school after Grand Valley and he aspires to be an attorney. He hopes to start as a compliance attorney, move to civil litigation, and one day become a federal judge. Outside the classroom, he enjoys running, spending time with friends and family, and watching tennis.
Brenda Garcia – Legal Studies
Brenda Garcia is a senior at Grand Valley State University. Her major is in legal studies with a minor in Spanish. She graduated from Grand Rapids Union High School and is a first generation college student. She periodically visits her high school to encourage other students to attend college. She is currently involved in the new Legal Studies honor society, Lexis Epsilon Chi. She is also a founder of a new multicultural sorority on campus, Delta Tau Lambda, which focuses on community service, academic excellence, and professionalism. During her free time she loves volunteering in her community. She believes that it is essential to dedicate time to your community so you can see it flourish. For two years she has been working at Warner Norcross & Judd as a Human Resources Assistant. After graduation she plans to attend law school to become an attorney that practices law in Grand Rapids. She is proud to become part of the Cook Leadership Academy and is looking forward to meeting new people and gaining new knowledge and experience.
Amber Hendrick – Master of Social Work
Amber Hendrick grew up in West Michigan attending Reed City Public Schools. She is currently a graduate student at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) studying school social work. She received her undergraduate at GVSU in Social Work. As an undergrad, Amber was involved with many organizations and held multiple leadership positions within them. She was elected as the BSW Representative for NASW Michigan Chapter for the 2013-2014 year where she represented all BSW’s in Michigan. Amber is currently involved in the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) as a U-link Representative, which is a student liaison position between NASW and GVSU, Omicron Delta Kappa, Graduate Student Affairs, and with the Masters of Social Work Student Organization as well as having multiple involvements within the community such as with Adoptive Family Support Network, Covenant House Academy-GR, Red Project, and more. Her future careers goals include entering the field of social work in her areas of passion including schools, child welfare, international relations, domestic violence, and advocacy. She eventually hopes to become involved with the policy aspect of social work at the local and state levels. Through Amber’s previous involvement and experiences, she has learned the importance of leadership within a community and is excited for the opportunity to be involved with the Cook Leadership Academy again and experience more of what it has to offer.
Joseph Hogan – English and Film
Joe Hogan graduated from Grand Valley State University with degrees in English and film. As a student in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, Joe worked as a lead writing consultant and writing fellow at the Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors, wrote weekly columns on higher education for the Grand Valley Lanthorn, and founded and served as editor-in-chief of Cinesthesia: The Grand Valley Journal of Cinema. Since June 2014, Joe has served as program manager of the Hauenstein Center’s Common Ground Initiative.
Nicole Horne – Chemistry, Aquatic Biology – UM, BS ’94; GVSU, MS ’16 – David and Carol Van Andel Leadership Fellow
Nicole M. Horne is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward & Theresa Horne and hails from Muskegon, Michigan. Upon graduating from Muskegon High School, she matriculated through and graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry (’94). She was then employed at Pfizer Global Research & Development in Ann Arbor & Holland, Michigan as an organic chemist for eight years, performing pharmaceutical synthesis and producing, isolating, and purifying recombinant DNA proteins for disease enquiries. In February 2004, Nicole entered full-time ministry as the Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church of Muskegon and served in this capacity for nine years. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the Math and Physical Sciences Department at Muskegon Community College, where she teaches chemistry and math. Nicole is currently a graduate student at GVSU in the Biology Department under the direction of Dr. Bopi Biddanda. Her thesis research is in the area of aquatic microbial ecology, with respect to aquatic biofilms and their role in the inexpensive and family-scale BioSand Biofilter water filtration system, which is used to provide safe drinking water in developing countries, improving human health and well-being.
Sultan Hubbard – Psychology
Sultan was born in California and raised in Farmington Hills, Michigan with his twin sister and older brother up until 2012. Now living in the Grand Rapids area, he is attending Grand Valley State University as a psychology major in hopes of becoming a Counseling Psychologist in the future. In his pastime he enjoys reading literature and talking with peers about current events and contemporary topics.
Yah-Hanna Jenkins Leys – Master of Public Administration / Van Andel Endowed Fellow
Yah-Hanna Leys was born and raised on a small island in the West Indies, St. Kitts. She left in 2008 to pursue studies at the City College of the City University of New York, where she graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in international studies and English literature. During her time as an undergraduate, she participated in a number of international and domestic policy oriented activities. She then went on to pursue her graduate degree at the City College in public administration. However, after marrying her husband in 2013, she decided to continue her graduate career at Grand Valley State University where the MPA program offered a concentration more specific to her interest—nonprofit management and leadership. While at Grand Valley, Yah-Hanna served as the Vice President of the Nonprofit Graduate Student Organization on the Graduate and Secretary on the International Student Group’s board. Yah-Hanna has spent most of her college career working as a Writing Consultant and ended her time at Grand Valley as a Graduate Assistant with the Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors. Currently, Yah-Hanna serves as the Director of Development at a local nonprofit where she hopes to impact the level of diversity and inclusivity within West Michigan. She is also involved in various initiatives that take on a more global perspective. Yah-Hanna looks forward to developing lasting relationships with fellows and mentors in the Cook Leadership Academy.
Natalie Joaquin – Political Science and Communication Studies
Natalie Joaquin is currently working on a Bachelor’s Degree in both communication studies and political science. As a committed member of Grand Valley’s Multicultural Cohort Program, she relishes any opportunity to promote equity and inclusion both within and beyond the classroom. She is the vice president of the Official GVSU Belly Dance Club and is also involved in other organizations such as the Law Society and Model Entertainment. While embracing her Dominican culture she enjoys salsa dancing and spending time with her family.
Meghan Jordon – Nursing
Meghan’s leadership development began in the small town of Brooklyn, Michigan. During her time attending Columbia Central High School, Meghan held leadership positions in National Honors Society, Student Senate, and several varsity athletics programs. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in nursing in addition to studying in the Frederik Meijer Honors College. She has been an active leader in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship since her freshman year of college and has played an essential role in the planning of a new branch of ministry among nursing students. Meghan also served as an Honors Mentor for three years. Her contributions to this mentoring program include the implementation of an Honors Mentor Council, which works to create accountability and empower student leadership. Meghan is looking forward to integrating her leadership training from the Cook Leadership Academy, InterVarsity, Honors Mentoring, and Student Nurses Association into her future nursing practice.
Paul Klug – Clinical Exercise Science
Paul Klug is currently a clinical exercise science major at Grand Valley State. Born and raised in Traverse City, Michigan, he is an alumni of Northwestern Michigan College. Prior to his collegiate career, Mark attended Traverse City Central high school, where he played varsity baseball and golf. Now a senior at Grand Valley, he is wrapping up his undergraduate career before he plans on attending medical school and earning a specialty in orthopaedic surgery, which he would like to utilize in a sports medicine environment. Growing up, athletics were a large part of his life, and he attributes much of his leadership ability and knowledge to the sporting realm, acknowledging that the strongest leaders are forged from both mental and physical adversity. Paul spends his summers coaching youth travel baseball, where he aims not only to develop great baseball players, but also great young men. He believes there is a great deal to learn from every individual and every situation, and for this reason he is highly anticipating spending time around Cook Leadership Academy Fellows, as well as the individuals and mentors that will be influencing him. Mark plans to apply the tools that he gains from this experience to his life as a student, professional, coach, and mentor.
Alena Leshner – International Business and Marketing
Alena Leshner is a senior at Grand Valley State University, with a double major in international business and marketing, and a minor in German. She grew up in Holland, Michigan, and spent her high school years helping exchange students adapt to life in the United States. She is a member of the Frederik Meijer Honors College, and works as the assistant to the Honors Academic Advisor. She is currently the president of Grand Valley’s International Relations Organization, and is a member of the national honors societies Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Beta Gamma Sigma. When she is not studying or organizing multicultural events for her organization, she enjoys playing her fiddle, hiking, spending time with friends, and learning new languages. She also loves traveling, and has studied abroad twice; once in Italy during high school, and her second time in Germany while attending Grand Valley. During the summer of 2014, she worked as a Development and Marketing intern for Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity, and is now a Product Marketing intern for Steelcase. Alena looks forward to networking and forming lasting relationships with fellows and mentors in the Cook Leadership Academy.
Austin McNeal – Business Administration in Marketing
Austin McNeal is currently a junior at Grand Valley State University pursuing a Bachelor of business administration in marketing with a minor in nonprofit administration. Raised in Greenville, Michigan, Austin began exploring leadership opportunities while attending Greenville High School. He held leadership positions in the National Honor Society; Village Green Singers, his school’s show choir; Greenville Youth Advisory Council, a philanthropic organization; various athletic teams; as well as Student Council and Students Against Destructive Decisions. It was during this time that Austin began developing a passion for service and philanthropy. At Grand Valley, Austin is a student in the Frederik Meijer Honors College and is joining the team at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy in August 2015 as a student assistant in the Institute of Foundation and Donor Learning. Austin is also an active member of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, having served as a small group leader in the honors college. He is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Austin is an “I Am Grand Valley” recipient and has made the Dean’s List every semester thus far. While life after college is unclear, Austin hopes to either work for a charitable nonprofit organization, a socially responsible for-profit organization, or work on developing partnerships between the ever-blurring private and nonprofit sectors. Whatever the future holds, he is sure the skills and knowledge learned during his time with the Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy will serve him well in his future endeavors of leading and serving others.
Alexandria Melton – Masters of Public Administration
Having recently graduated with her master’s degree in social work, Alex Melton is pursuing her public administration portion of the dual social work and public administration master’s program. She graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. In the time between her undergraduate and graduate studies, she explored the world of residential crisis intervention services in which she developed a growing passion for social justice. She currently directs this passion through her internship with the City of Grand Rapids. She coordinated Grand Rapids’ inaugural Neighborhood Summit and has completed many research reports that have informed the City Commission’s decisions. Her passion for travel has most recently taken her to Ireland on a Faculty-Led Service Learning Trip. She finds that world travel is one of the most irreplaceable forms of education in her life and looks forward to the next experience. Alex plans to use her expanding networking circles and skills gained to focus on her passion areas of anti-trafficking efforts and gender equality. She looks forward to how the Cook Leadership Academy will grow her capacity for leadership.
Carrie Mull – Doctorate of Nursing Practice
Carrie Mull has been a Registered Nurse for 18 years and has been in the healthcare field since she was 18 years old. She received her Bachelors in nursing from GVSU many years ago and have recently re-entered the academic world in pursuit of a Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree. She has worked at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s for 20 years in several different roles; the most recent being in nursing management, and she has been managing the Psychiatric Medical Unit for 7 years. She assisted in redesigning the unit in 2012 and has presented at a national conference regarding the role unit design plays in overall patient and staff experience. On a more personal note, she has been married for almost 21 years and has 3 children; 20, 18, and 16 years old.
Dana Nicholson – Psychology
Dana Nicholson grew up in West Michigan attending Grandville Public Schools. She is currently completing her undergraduate degree at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) majoring in psychology with minors in management and public administration and an emphasis in intercultural competence. Dana is in her final year at GVSU and wants to take her interdisciplinary education to the next level. She has a passion for diversity and inclusion and wants to help businesses develop an intercultural training plan to implement on all levels. Dana holds many different leadership positions on campus, but is looking forward to being a first year fellow. She is excited to cultivate her education and leadership skills through the academy by learning how to work with a group of passionate students and current community and global leaders. Dana also has very strong community ties to Grand Rapids and is involved in the success of this wonderful city. Dana spends her free time volunteering for different organizations around the Grand Rapids area, spending time outdoors, and enjoys traveling whenever she can.
Xinyi Ou – History and Computer Science
Xinyi is a senior at Grand Valley State University, majoring in history and computer science. Born and raised in Beijing, China, Xinyi identifies strongly with immigrant communities. During high school, she discovered a passion for working with ELL students and helping others communicate effectively through written and verbal language. Currently, she is a Lead Writing Consultant for the Frederik Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan, where she works with students of all backgrounds. After graduation, Xinyi hopes to enter a graduate program for History, specializing in Digital Archiving. Beyond her academic pursuits, activism is a vital part of Xinyi’s life. She plans to continue addressing issues of access to education and housing for LGBTQ youth in the West Michigan area. As a fourth year fellow, she looks forward to meeting the new participants!
Alicia Perez – Hospitality and Tourism Management
Alicia is a senior at Grand Valley State University majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management with an emphasis in Meeting and Events and a minor in Latin American Studies. Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Alicia graduated from Potters House a small yet heavily diverse, Christian high School. In high school Alicia found her passion planning events as elected Vice President of student council where she planned various event such as a breast cancer awareness game and Hispanic night fundraiser. Now at Grand Valley Alicia is President of Latino Student Union and Treasurer & Pre-college Outreach Chair for The National Society of Minorities in Hospitality. She has also served on the GVSU Cultural Council Funding Board and been involved with the Multicultural Cohort Program, Meeting Professionals International, Niara-Mentoring program, Advocates for Immigration Reform and You Beautiful Black Women. In 2015 Alicia was awarded the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association Diversity Award. In May 2015 Alicia was given the opportunity to work at the Cannes Film Festival in France. While there she gained valuable knowledge about the logistics of planning an International event. There she discovered that it was her goal in the future to work large-scale entertainment events such as the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys. Alicia is passionate about diversity and cultural awareness. She is an advocate for social justice and a feminist at heart. In her spare time Alicia enjoys traveling, and hopes to see as much of the world as possible. She enjoys exercising and being active and tries to live a healthy lifestyle. Alicia is active in her church, and enjoys quality time with her family. This year she hopes to gain essential leadership training through the Cook Leadership Academy as she continues to pursue her career.
Rachel Paris – Allied Health Sciences
Rachel is a junior at Grand Valley State University pursuing a degree in allied health sciences with an emphasis in pre-physician assistant studies. She grew up in Davison, Michigan and graduated from Davison High School in 2013. At Grand Valley, Rachel enjoys being an active member of the Glen A. Niemeyer Living-Learning Community as a member the Frederik Meijer Honors College and as a Resident Assistant in the Niemeyer and Calder community. Some of her other commitments include being a member of the National Resident Hall Honorary and serving as a Campus Ministry small group leader. Rachel is an active international traveler who enjoys learning about different cultures and customs. She has enjoyed her time at Grand Valley thus far, since she has been able to meet a variety of people and develop her leadership skills. In her spare time, you can find Rachel reading, running, serving others, and building relationships with her buddies. She is excited to be a member of the Cook Leadership Academy and to learn from the other fellows and the mentors before taking the next step toward becoming a Physician Assistant.
Andrew Plague – Political Science / Hauenstein Endowed Fellow
Andrew Plague is senior at Grand Valley State University and a student of the Frederik Meijer Honors College. He will graduate in April 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in political science and philosophy. Andrew currently works as an intern and special projects assistant in GVSU’s Inclusion and Equity office. Previously he worked as a research consultant at the Mary Idema Pew library. Andrew also enjoys being part of the increasingly vibrant Grand Rapids community and spends several hours each week volunteering as an adult literacy tutor. During his junior year (2014-2015) Andrew served as president of the Student Senate. In addition to providing steady leadership to the organization and representing the student body to a variety of university committees and advisory boards, he worked to bring greater visibility to the needs of LGBTQ students on campus and pushed successfully for the creation of an inclusive prayer and meditation room on campus. In the spring of 2015 Andrew received the Kenneth R. Venderbush Leadership Award, the highest award given for student leadership at Grand Valley.
Allyson Putt – Psychology / Van Andel Endowed Fellow
Allyson moved to Grand Rapids in 2007 to study at Aquinas College. During her undergraduate career Allyson was President of the History Club, studied abroad in Perpignan, France, and was a member of the Insignis Honor Society. Her senior project for the Honor Society was conducted through the Hauenstein Center. Upon graduating, Allyson turned her focus to philanthropic organizations and community building. She has worked for both locally- and internationally- focused non profit organizations. She recently made the decision to return to school to study psychology. Along with her continuing studies, she is also beginning a new position at Heart of West Michigan United Way.
Micah Rahn-Tiemeyer – Master of Social Work / John DeYoung Endowed Fellow
Micah Rahn-Tiemeyer is pursuing his master of social work. A true advanced generalist; Micah is interested in both the policy and administrative side of social work as well as the individual therapeutic side. Micah has a wealth of experience working directly with adults and children with developmental disabilities and is currently working as a community living supports aide at D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s. Micah also helps homeless and impoverished individuals to navigate the network of resources in Grand Rapids as the Resource Office Coordinator at Degage Ministries. Micah is also a Program Development intern at National Heritage Academies where, along with his fellow MSW intern, Micah has developed a behavior curriculum that is being implemented in NHA schools all over America. Micah graduated with his bachelor of music from the University of North Texas in 2010, where he studied music history and classical string bass. While there, Micah was recognized as outstanding music history student, and studied the music of Franz Schubert in Vienna, Austria. Micah was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and lived in Denton, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina before returning to Grand Rapids with his wife, Kristin, in 2012. Micah and Kristin are the proud adoptive parents of two beautiful cats. Micah looks forward to networking with fellows and mentors and building a capacity for leadership in the field of social work in order to be a catalyst for social change and address individual and social problems.
Megan Rodawold – Writing
Megan is a fourth-year undergrad majoring in writing with a double minor in applied linguistics and international relations. A Chicagoland native, she has long been interested in the study of language, and has carried that passion into her time at GVSU, working to master Spanish, Biblical Hebrew, Latin, and American Sign Language. In addition to her avid study of languages, she also currently works as a lead writing consultant at the Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors. Megan’s postgraduate plans are yet to be determined, but she hopes to travel the world and facilitate curiosity and compassion between different peoples and places in any way that she can, both personally and professionally.
Laura Sample – Liberal Studies
Laura is not good at writing autobiographies, especially in third person. She obsessively consumes words and likes to regurgitate them in a variety of formats, including short story, prose, sketch, speech, and song. She believes in people, the colors of the sunset, pizza and Jack Kerouac. She is currently pursuing a degree in liberal education with an emphasis in interaction and experience design (ask her about it- she can’t wait to tell you her dreams and ideas). Her longest-lasting leadership position- twenty years and running- has been as a big sister to four outstanding young ladies who currently reside in her hometown of Imlay City, Mi, with her/their parents. She hopes you are happy. She hopes you know goodness. And she hopes you find these words, from Kurt Vonnegut, as cool as she does. “What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
Kali Smolen – Cell and Molecular Biology
Kali is a third year student in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University. Majoring in cell and molecular biology and minoring in Spanish, Kali aspires to go into medical research. She is an Allendale native, where she graduated from Allendale High School as class Valedictorian. At Grand Valley, Kali is the president of the MD/PhD Club, president of Grand Valley Beekeepers, a participant in Alternative Breaks, and a facilitator at the Science Success Center. In addition, Kali researchers in the lab of Brad Wallar, PhD, where she investigates novel inhibitors to antibiotic resistant bacteria. Kali also volunteers at Spectrum Health and the Sustainable Agriculture Project at Grand Valley. Beyond her academic or pre-professional pursuits, Kali is an avid horseback rider, having shown through Kent County 4-H since sixth grade. Kali also enjoys being outdoors, reading, traveling, and experimenting with chemistry in the kitchen. She is very excited to engage in conversation with community leaders and learn more about her leadership style through the Cook Leadership Academy.
Scott St. Louis – History / John D. Wardrop Endowed Fellow
Scott St. Louis is entering his fourth and final year at Grand Valley, studying history with a double minor in political science and French. He is a student of the Frederik Meijer Honors College and a former Vice President for Educational Affairs on the GVSU Student Senate. A passionate and ambitious emerging humanities professional, Scott has presented his research at meetings of many academic organizations, including the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and two of its regional affiliates. As an advocate for more open systems of research communication, Scott has contributed to planning efforts for OpenCon 2014 and 2015, international conferences placing students and early-career professionals in the offices of Congress and the European Parliament. His writings, interviews, and translations have been published on websites associated with such prestigious organizations as the National Museum of American History (Smithsonian Institution), the Society for U.S. Intellectual History, the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, and the Right to Research Coalition. He has also written material for the American Numismatic Association, the Grand Rapids Historical Society, the Midland County Historical Society, and the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio. An Associate Editor for the Directory of Open Access Journals, Scott is also a member of the editorial teams for two journals in his primary research field: The Eighteenth-Century Current Bibliography (ECCB) and New Perspectives on the Eighteenth Century (NPEC). A Fellow of the Cook Leadership Academy since Fall 2014, Scott is looking forward to continuing his personal and professional growth while building strong relationships with other leaders in the West Michigan community.
Annie Taccolini – Philosophy
Annie was born near Ann Arbor, Michigan and attended Michigan State University for two years following high school. She found after her sophomore year that she did not fully understand herself or her ambitions and that she needed to spend some time away from the intense academic setting. She moved to Grand Rapids to test the waters of Grand Valley for a year in 2012. After that time, she decided that deeper self-knowledge could only be gained if she moved away from the comforts of mid-West American charm for a season. She spent a year by herself in New Zealand, volunteering and expanding herself both mentally and spiritually. She is now proud to live in Grand Rapids again, studying philosophy and Spanish at GVSU and working for a B-Corporation business in the city.
Audrey Tappenden – Political Science
Audrey Tappenden comes from a town locally referred to as “The Pulse of Michigan” otherwise known as Coldwater. Upon graduation in December 2016 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in political science and a minor in French, Audrey plans to pursue her J.D. Having studied abroad in France and spent a summer living like a native in Colorado, she maintains a passion for traveling within and out of the United States. Audrey served as a Legal Assistance Center volunteer for the 2014/2015 academic year, is a current employee of Grand Valley’s Office of Student Life, and interns at Miller Johnson in downtown Grand Rapids. Her campus involvement includes membership to several student organizations including Vertical Earth, College Republicans, and Law Society, where she holds an executive board position. This year, Audrey looks forward to sharpening her leadership skills, networking with peers and professionals, and growing within the Grand Rapids community.
Alexa Thompson – Master of Social Work
Alexa Thompson is a research coordinator of the Community Research Institute at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is responsible for designing, implementing, and managing applied research projects. She has played a major role in the evaluation for the Community Family Partnership, a SAMHSA System of Care grant in Kent County. Thompson joined the Johnson Center in 2013 as a graduate research assistant. Previously, she has worked as an evaluation research assistant for Michigan State University School of Social Work, as well as interned at Bethany Christian Services in their home-based therapy program. She earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from Michigan State University, and her master’s degree in social work at Grand Valley State University. Thompson is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration from GVSU, with a specialization in public management. She received the 2015 Academic Excellence Award from Grand Valley State University’s School of Social Work, and was selected as the highest achieving social work student by the university in her graduating class. Thompson is interested in community-based research and the ability for evaluation to produce positive impacts at the individual, local, state, and federal levels. Further, she is passionate about research dissemination, policy implementation, and systems change work. The Cook Leadership Academy will serve as a vital tool for her professional development, connecting her with mentors and professionals within the field that can help guide her in developing the necessary skills in leadership.
Rose Turuka – International Business and Marketing
Rose Turuka is from East Africa, Tanzania off of this little island known as Zanzibar. She is an only child but she grew up with most of her nieces and nephews hence she has never truly been the only child. She came to the United States in June 2010 to visit her father who had been here studying and ended up joining him on the journey to finish her studies. Apart from herself and her father, the rest of Rose’s family is back home in Tanzania. She just finished her third year in Grand Valley State University as a double major in international business and marketing with a minor in French and cannot wait to see what her final year here entails. She is the President of African Student Council after serving as the Events officer for the organization two years in a row; she served as the Cultural Board Officer of International Student Organization, choreographer for the African Dance Team, a member of Ballroom dance Club and a member of Phi Chi Theta. She inspired the beginning of a non-profit organization back home in Zanzibar known as the RoseTuruka (ROTU) Foundation which aims to aid financially unstable individuals and orphans to receive education. As of now it is only based in Zanzibar but her dream is to expand and nurture the non-profit so that it may have branches around the continent of Africa and eventually around the world. In her free time, she loves to dance, cook, write, talk, create new ideas for her organizations, try to sing (keyword, TRY) and experience the slow moments in life. From the Cook Leadership Academy, she hopes to work together with fellow aspiring leaders to make the impact needed in the society as well as creating lasting relationships with both mentors and fellows.
Alison Vandine – Cell and Molecular Biology
Alison is a first year fellow and in her final year as a cell and molecular biology undergraduate. She is an active member of the Frederik Meijer Honors College and Omicron Delta Kappa. Alison has researched with the Biochemistry department on antibiotic resistance since her first year at Grand Valley. She has conducted independent research as a Student Summer Scholar, as well as disseminated research at numerous conferences. She will be be publishing results as a co-author in 2016. Alison currently works as a Lead Library Research Consultant, assisting students with database navigation and strengthening their projects. She plans to pursue her PhD in Biosciences to develop new medicines and to work abroad, eventually settling in Europe. In her free time, Alison volunteers at a number of organizations in Grand Rapids, including a local animal shelter.
Eric Versluis – Allied Health Sciences
Eric Versluis is a junior pursuing a degree in allied health sciences and a minor in business with the goal of getting into a physician assistant program after his undergraduate studies. Eric graduated from Calvin Christian High School in Grandville, Michigan. During high school he played varsity tennis, and was an active participant in the Boy Scouts of America program, during which he attained the rank of a Life Scout and served as an Assistant Scoutmaster. For nine weeks immediately following his high school graduation, he biked 3,900 miles from Los Angeles to New York City via the United States and Canada with the Sea to Sea organization in order to raise money and awareness for those living in poverty. He was successful in raising nearly $11,000 for the impoverished. He regularly volunteers at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital where he helps out in the inpatient therapy gyms. Eric has a strong passion for helping others, and he plans to spend as much time as he can on medical missions to third world countries lacking medical attention after graduating from a physician assistant program.
Thomas Walters – Group Social Studies Secondary Education
Thomas Walters is an energetic and enthusiastic go-getter that thrives on helping and interacting with others. He is currently a Junior at Grand Valley State University pursuing group social studies, history, education, and psychology. He intends to use his degree to become an educator in a secondary school somewhere in the wider world. Thomas is an exceptional student within the classroom, always an active participant in discussions, and a leader outside of it as well. He is the President of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Secretary for Sigma Alpha Lambda national honors society. In his free time he enjoys listening to the National Public Radio, having engaging conversations about anything, and watching the Detroit Lions play professional football. Thomas was born in raised in Holland, Michigan and is very proud of his dutch heritage – he volunteers at the Holland Museum as often as possible. He is also a first year college student and the son of a single mother, which is why he has so much positive energy and a relentless work ethic.
Burritt Watrous – Math and Physics
Burritt is a senior in the Frederik Meijer Honors College with majors in math and physics and minors in computer science and mathematical statistics. In the past, he has interned as a software engineer in the aerospace industry and hopes to find work as a software developer upon graduation. Eventually he would like to start his own company that develops novel software for educational purposes. Aside from this, he has always enjoyed being in contact with nature and quickly discovered the Sustainable Agriculture Project upon beginning his college career at Grand Valley. There, he learned about sustainable farming practices and alternatives to current industrial agriculture. He has worked as an intern at the Sustainable Agriculture Project and regularly volunteers with local farms in the area. These experiences have educated him about the incredible need for healthy, resilient, and sustainable food systems in our world today. To increase awareness and help solve these issues, he hopes to own his own farm one day and will establish an international charity that will focus on farmer education and empowerment in developing countries. This is his first year as a member of the Cook Leadership Academy and he is looking forward to learning more about himself and meeting amazing new people. In his free time he enjoys reading, playing music, and swing dancing.
Lawrence Williams – Political Science
Lawrence is the only boy of 4 and was raised in Detroit, Michigan to a single mother. He enjoys singing, as he is a Praise and Worship leader back at home. After graduating Southwestern High School, he came to Grand Valley ready to take on a new environment, develop his skills, and obtain an education that would propel him into his future. While at Grand Valley, he has been very active on Student Senate, and now serves as Vice President of Senate Resources in his fourth year.
Tyler Ziola – Human Resources Management / DeVos Endowed Fellow
Tyler is a senior at Grand Valley studying human resources management, with a minor in public administration. During his time at GVSU, Tyler has served as a Student Senator, including Vice President for Public Relations ’14-’15, Promotions Coordinator for Laker Traditions, Commencement Assistant for the Office of Student Life, and sat on the Laker for a Lifetime Communications and Outreach Subcommittee. Currently, he is a Resident Assistant on the Pew Campus, sits on the Power of Ten Committee, and is a Learning Management System Analyst at Wolverine Worldwide. Highlights of his collegiate career include volunteering with Alternative Breaks in Staten Island, New York, working for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, and attending professional development courses at the Disney Institute in Orlando, Florida. Tyler looks forward to developing his peer network as a CLA fellow and believes that being a leader means empowering others to lead in their own way.
Raul Alvarez: Chief Communicator, Storyteller & Synergist (PR/Marketing Counselor), GTSD Group
Fred Antczak: PhD, Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Science, GVSU
Richard App: Owner, Richard App Gallery
Charles Ash, JD: Partner, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP
Scott Ayotte, JD: Inclusion & Diversity Specialist, Spectrum Health System, Inclusion & Diversity COE
Deb Bailey: Director of Global Corporate Relations, Steelcase, Inc.
Claudia Bajema: Director, Graduate Business Programs (Retired), GVSU, Seidman College of Business
Dan Behm: Superintendent, Forest Hills Public Schools
Peggy Bishop, CPA: Partner, Beene Garter LLP
Bert Bleke: Board Chairman; Former Superintendent, GRCC; Grand Rapids and Lowell PS
Mary Dailey Brown: President, SowHope
Allie Bush: Director, Government Affairs, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
Dev Butler, PhD: Director of Staff Relations & Development, GVSU
Laurie Chesley, PhD: Provost/Executive Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs, GRCC
Evelyn Clingerman, PhD: Executive Director, The Bonnie Wesorick Center for Health Care Transformation, GVSU
Ryan Cook: Vice President, Clear Energy Brokerage & Consulting, LLC
Saralyn Coupe, CFP, CPWA: Vice President, Financial Advisor, Sherwood & Coupe Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley
Michelle Covington: Development Manager, Kids’ Food Basket
Kevin DenDulk, PhD: Paul B. Henry Chair and Director, Henry Institute, Calvin College
Tania DeVries, JD: Vice President, Wealth Advisor, Huntington National Bank
Jason Duncan, PhD: Associate Professor and History Dept Chair, Aquinas College
Jeff Dykstra: Financial Advisor, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
Brandon Eisentrager: Executive Director, Jandernoa Entrepreneurial Mentoring
Justin Gray, RN: Inpatient Nursing Supervisor, Spectrum Health
John Green: Executive Chairman, Partner, Founders Brewing Co.
Dan Hurwitz: Assistant Vice President for Community Giving, GVSU
Jack Iott: Senior Investment Analyst, RDV Corporation
Jennifer Maxson: Practice Group Leader, Varnum Consulting
Rob McCarty: Partner, The Image Shoppe
Cynthia McCurren, PhD: Dean, College of Nursing, GVSU
Ciciley Moore: Programs Manager, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
Noreen Myers, JD: Employment Attorney; Former Chair of GVSU Board of Trustees, Private Practice; GVSU
Juliana Nahas-Viilo: Membership Manager, Grand Rapids Art Museum
Jim Payne: Vice Chairman, Amway
Peter Perez: Chairman; Former Deputy Asst. Secretary for Manufacturing, Carter Products; International Trade Admin., US Dept of Commerce
Matt Rampe: Senior Manager- Forensic, Valuation & Litigation Services, Beene Garter LLP
Kristin Revere: Director of Strategic Engagement, Vanguard Public Affairs
Dr. Larry Robson, MD: Doctor of Vascular Surgery, Spectrum Health Medical Group
Megan Sall: Business Development Manager; Board of Trustees Member, The Right Place; GVSU
Ryan Slusarzyk: Global Project Manager, Nutrilite, Amway
Hilary Snell, JD: Estate Planning Attorney; Of Counsel; Former Managing Partner, Varnum Law, LLP
Dr. Jane Toot: Professor of Physical Therapy, Frederik Meijer Honors College, GVSU
Selma Tucker: Director of Marketing and Communications, Public Sector Consultants
Kyle Van Strien: Co-Owner; Distiller, Long Road Distillers
John Wardrop: Former President; Chairman; Board Member, Dake; Sparks Belting Co.; TEC; Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids
Heidi Weesies: Communications Professor; Consultant, Davenport University
Michael Youngblood: Principal Account Manager, DTE Energy