Victor McBride
Bronson’s McBride receives associate degree before high school graduation

Bronson high school senior Victor McBride is knocking off a couple years of college classes before he even graduates from high school thanks to the Early Middle College program at Glen Oaks Community College.

This Friday (May 7), McBride will graduate with an Associate of Arts degree from Glen Oaks, a month before he graduates from Bronson High School.

“Victor was the ideal EMC student,” said Anita Lopez Schlabach, EMC program director. “He has been very engaged with the program staff, faithfully attended the monthly seminars and overall, he was proactive in driving his career path. He is actually graduating early from the EMC program.”

McBride’s hard work is paying off, both in terms of time and tuition as he will be transferring two-years of credits to Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich. He will start classes there in the fall as a pre-law major.

A member of Phi Theta Kappa, the largest international academic honor society for two-year colleges, McBride is also a National Honor Society student and member of the Quiz Bowl team at Bronson.

Asked about his Glen Oaks experience, McBride particularly enjoyed his classes in Philosophy, Greek Mythology and English Comp.

In addition to academics, McBride has a part-time job and enjoys video games and hanging out with friends.

“It was a joint effort,” said Schlabach, “as the staff at Bronson worked with us and wanted the best for him as well.”

McBride will be among the 286 students from both 2020 and 2021 participating in the 52nd and 53rd annual commencement ceremony this Friday in the GOCC gymnasium. Although there will be no guests, the event will be livestreamed on the Glen Oaks webpage, Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

New Inductees EPT
Glen Oaks Epsilon Pi Tau chapter inducts eight new members

Eight new members were inducted into the Delta Rho Chapter of Epsilon Pi Tau during the fourth annual induction ceremony held on Monday, May 3 on the campus of Glen Oaks Community College.

EPT is the International Honorary Society for Professionals in Technology.

“The 92-year-old society, established in 1929, promotes excellence in academics, service and research,” said Dr. David H. Devier, Glen Oaks president. “It is dedicated to honoring students with high academic performance; however, this year we also inducted three new members of our faculty and staff. The focus is on recognizing all programs and professions that utilize technology in their training and work.”

New members inducted at this year’s ceremony were:

Sara Birch

Jade N. Breseman

Evan J. Dembskey

Nathan Denton

Alyssia K. Hudson-Grayer

Judah Kay

Michael L. Northrop

Lauren M. Rice

Glen Oaks established the Delta Rho Chapter in 2017, at which time they planted a ceremonial oak tree between the main entrance and the new student suites. As the chapter grows, the tree will as well, in girth, height and roots.

Kevin Conner
Kevin Conner to receive E.J. Shaheen Teaching Excellence award

Glen Oaks Community College has announced that Kevin Conner, professor of information technology, is this year’s recipient of the prestigious E. J. Shaheen Teaching Excellence award. He will be recognized during the year’s commencement ceremony on Friday, May 7.

Conner is said to be a captivating and caring instructor who works hard to makes sure his students fully understand concepts and succeed in their classes as well as in their future. He has continuously worked to expand the range of information technology program offerings. Above and beyond the classroom, he began the Gaming Club a few years ago, and pre-pandemic, he spent 3-4 hours on weeknights, as well as Saturday mornings, in order to provide times for like-minded students to come together to advance not only their gaming skills, but their social skills.

Conner, a Sturgis native, had always thought about studying computers; but after graduating from Sturgis High School, instead he started doing residential and commercial painting in addition to working a part-time job at Porter Drug Store in town. After suffering a life-changing health condition affecting his mobility at age 29, he recalls driving out to Glen Oaks and making the decision to go to college.

“I sold my fishing boat and trailer, and a few other assets to pay for a basic computer which was about $3,000 back in the nineties,” said Conner, “and I began classes as an adult student.”

Shortly into his studies, he was offered a part-time position in the college’s Media Center as a media assistant. This marked the beginning of his 27-year career at Glen Oaks.

Conner earned an Associate of Applied Science in Business, with a focus on micro-computer applications in 1997. During commencement, he was honored with the President’s Award. He also received the Wall St. Journal Award in recognition for  excellence in academics.

Conner continued working part-time at the Media Center upon graduation and was soon offered an opportunity to teach a data processing class on campus over the summer.

“I was surprised at the opportunity and nervous about the teaching assignment,” said Conner, “but it actually went quite well.”

He also taught in the following fall semester while pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Davenport University’s Kalamazoo campus. He received a Bachelor in Applied Science specializing in E-Commerce in 2003, before obtaining a Master of Science in 2005 at Capella University where he specialized in computer networking.

“I taught as an adjunct and that soon turned into a part-time teaching position,” said Conner. “I eventually became a full-time faculty member while in the last year of my master’s program.”

Conner has seen and been instrumental in advancing the Information Technology Department during his time with Glen Oaks.

“When I started, we didn’t have strictly Information Technology degrees,” said Conner. “Computer classes were offered through the Business Department. One of the first classes that I brought to the program was a computer repair course, followed by a computer networking course. Early programs focused more on web development, but as things became more automated through the use of content management systems such as Word Press, demand for those programs decreased.”

More recently, Conner spearheaded the effort to bring a couple Cybersecurity programs and an Associate of Computer Science degree to campus.

Through the years, Conner has seen a lot of change on campus. “One of the biggest changes has been in student demographics,” said Conner. “When starting as a student, it was a mixture of 18-year-olds and adult students. The students are much younger today, as a result of the college serving a large number of area high school students.”

“I remember early on — one of my adult students was crying one day because she accidently turned the cursor into a dinosaur and thought she had broken the computer,” said Conner.

“Classes are more hands-on and engaging today,” said Conner of the changes in teaching. “They say you can lose a student’s attention in less than a second, so you need to be mindful of that. Instructors need to keep things short and to the point. Changes in technology through the years has made that all the easier for me.”

“Our greatest strength is the small size and personal attention we give our students,” said Conner. “It’s hard not to become friends with the students in your class.”

So what’s in store for the future? Conner sees growing the Gaming Club. “Eports, or virtual sports, have gained a lot of momentum recently,” said Conner. “It’s getting pretty common for schools to have esports teams compete online with one another. Perhaps the biggest hurdle is figuring out which game(s) to use for competition. Probably the most common ones out there today is League of Legends, followed by Dota 2 and Counter-Strike. There are pro-gamers out there and the stakes for winners are high.”

For now, Conner continues to advise the club – his favorite game? Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Seige.

The E. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching and Excellence Award was initiated in 1984 with a generous donation from E. J. Shaheen, one of the original Glen Oaks Board members. Shaheen, a college professor, lawyer, and business owner, placed a high value on education and spent much of his later life promoting high quality education and education institutions, including Glen Oaks. The award is administered through the Glen Oaks Foundation.


2021 Award Recipients
Glen Oaks to livestream in-person 52nd and 53rd annual commencement, Fri. May 7 in gymnasium – without guests

Glen Oaks Community College will hold its 52nd and 53rd Annual Commencement ceremony at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 7, in Ken Schuler Court (Glen Oaks gymnasium). The Nursing Pinning ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 8 at 10 a.m. and the Allied Health pinning ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 8 at 2 p.m. with both pinning ceremonies also taking place in the gym.

All three events will be livestreamed and take place without guests in attendance due to COVID-19 safety precautions. Participants will wear masks and will be seated socially distanced on the gym floor. They will have the opportunity to have their photos taken following the walk across the stage.

For the combined years, there are 286 pending graduates with 343 degrees and/or certificates being awarded. The average graduate’s age is 24-years old – the youngest is 18 and the most senior is 55-years young. Their grade-point average is 3.29.  One dual enrolled high school student will be graduating from Glen Oaks with an associate degree before he graduates from his own high school. There are 65 Early Middle College graduates. A total of 118 graduates will participate in Friday evening’s ceremony to receive their degrees and/or certificates.

Glen Oaks President Dr. David H. Devier will preside over the ceremony and will recognize recipients of several special awards including:

  • Outstanding Service Award – Julie Cottin
  • Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award – Nick Shultz
  • J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching Excellence – Kevin Conner
  • Distinguished Alumni Award – Rod Lopez
  • Fellows Award – Aaron Miller
  • President’s Award – Alyssia Hudson-Grayer (2021), Edna Yoder (2020)

President Devier will confer the degrees and Dr. Michael Goldin, vice-president of academics, will serve as grand marshal for the ceremony. Tonya Howden, vice-president of student services, will read the names of the candidates as they walk across the platform to receive their degrees.

The Vintage Brass will provide music for the ceremony.

A short video, “Meeting the Challenges of a Pandemic,” will be shown.

Family, friends and members of the community will be able to view the commencement ceremony and the pinnings live on three different platforms: the Glen Oaks website (; the Glen Oaks Facebook page or the Glen Oaks YouTube channel.

Background on award/recipients
Outstanding Service Award – Julie Cottin, Digital Solutions Administrator – This award recognizes employees of Glen Oaks for outstanding performance and contributions to the college.

Julie Cottin joined Glen Oaks in 2016. She is said to be extremely driven, eager to accept challenges and is always looking for better ways to meet the needs of faculty, staff and students. She is the campus expert in a variety of software programs that she manages at the college – and for the most part – she is self-taught.

A Sturgis High School graduate, Cottin studied at WMU receiving a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, and a Master of Arts in Education Technology.


Part-Time Faculty Teaching Excellence Award – Nick Shultz, Instructor of Agriculture Technology – This award is presented annually to a part-time faculty member or adjunct who demonstrates excellence in teaching and reflects the value of education to students.

Nick Shultz started at Glen Oaks in 2020 and he teaches electrical/computer systems and engine performance classes for the Agricultural Technology program. He also teaches similar classes as an adjunct professor at Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio.

Shultz is a retired faculty member from Owens, retiring in 2019. He is currently pursuing a degree in physics.


  1. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching Excellence – Kevin Conner, Professor of Information Technology – The E. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching and Excellence Award was initiated in 1984 with a generous donation from E. J. Shaheen, one of the original Glen Oaks board members. Shaheen, a college professor, lawyer, and business owner, placed a high value on education and spent much of his later life promoting high quality education and educational institutions, including Glen Oaks.

Kevin Conner is said to be a captivating and caring instructor who works hard to make sure his students fully understand concepts and succeed in their classes as well as in their future. He has continuously worked to expand the range of Information Technology programs and course offerings. Above and beyond the classroom, he began the Gaming Club a few years ago, and pre-pandemic, he spent 3-4 hours on weeknights, as well as Saturday mornings, to provide times for like-minded students to come together to advance not only their gaming skills, but their social skills.

While attending Glen Oaks as an adult student in 1994, Conner was offered a part-time job in the college’s Media Center. That position marked the beginning of his 27-plus years of service. A Sturgis native, he received the President’s Award during commencement in 1997 upon receiving an Associate of Applied Science in Business.

Conner went on to receive a Bachelor’s in Applied Science specializing in E-Commerce from Davenport University. He became a full-time faculty member just prior to earning a Master of Science degree from Capella University.

Distinguished Alumni Award – Rod Lopez – This award recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves through professional excellence and personal service.

Rod Lopez, of Sturgis, has taken to heart the college mission by serving on the Glen Oaks Board of Trustees. He came to St. Joseph County in the mid-1990s as a teenager from Mexico in search of a better life. He had to learn English while finishing high school in Sturgis before advancing his education part-time at Glen Oaks while working full time.

He earned an Associate of Business in 2003 and went on to pursue both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Davenport University in Kalamazoo.

Lopez is an independent insurance agent at Preferred Insurance Service of Sturgis, where he writes policies and works to find the best coverage and premium match for his clients. He sells policies for property loss including natural disasters and vandalism and provides customer support for his clients.

In 2016, he was elected to the Glen Oaks Board of Trustees where he serves as secretary and is a significant contributor to the oversite of the college.

Fellows Award – Aaron Miller – This award recognizes a community member and/or institution for outstanding service to and/or in support of GOCC.

Aaron Miller, of Sturgis, served as state representative for the 59th district for six years and left office in January due to term limits. While there, he was a tireless advocate for Glen Oaks Community College as a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee. Today, he is a mortgage lender at Sturgis Bank and Trust in Sturgis.

Miller graduated from Western Michigan University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education and he taught high school math in both Middlebury, Ind., and Sturgis. He graduated from Bethel College—now Bethel University – with a Master of Education in School Administration in 2014.

While having little steady involvement with organizations over the last six years due to the nature of his position, Miller is already in the process of joining a few local boards and looks forward to continuing to serve his community.


President’s Award – Alyssia Hudson-Grayer (2021) and Edna Yoder (2020) – This award recognizes a student who has been nominated by the faculty for high achievement in academics and excellence, and contributions in the classroom.

Alyssia Hudson-Grayer, of Adrian, Mich., is the 2021 recipient who is receiving her Associate of Arts and graduating summa cum laude. She was recently inducted into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Society for Professionals in Technology, in recognition for high academic performance. She plans to pursue a degree in a science field or criminal justice. Her professors say she has sheer determination and a great work ethic that is rarely seen. Her dream job would be to join Ocean 4. In her spare time, she enjoys exercise and running and loves to learn new things.

Edna Yoder, of Shipshewana, Ind., was a non-traditional student who always wanted to be a nurse. She received her Associate of Science in Nursing from Glen Oaks in 2020. Her professors say she worked extremely hard, always actively participated in class, and she was an excellent leader for the Nursing Class of 2020. She currently works in the Oncology Department at Goshen Health and says Glen Oaks provided her with a solid foundation. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s of Nursing with Indiana Wesleyan University.



Judah Kay
Judah Kay is recipient of $10,000 WMU Phi Theta Kappa Alumni Scholarship

Glen Oaks graduate Judah Kay has been awarded the Western Michigan University Phi Theta Kappa Alumni Scholarship in the amount of $10,000.

Kay, of Three River, Mich., has an Associate of Applied Science in Technology and an Electrical Technologies Certificate. He will be pursuing a degree in electrical engineering at WMU this fall.

The PTK Alumni scholarship is awarded to inducted PTK members who have a 3.75 GPA or above at the time of admission after completing 24 or more credit hours of coursework.  The scholarship is awarded $5,000 per year for two years.

Phi Theta Kappa is the largest international academic honor society for two-year colleges.


Coaches Elliott and Slancik
Glen Oaks welcomes three new head coaches

Glen Oaks Community College has named three new head coaches. They are Michael Elliott, of Indianapolis, Ind., men’s head basketball coach; Michael Slancik, of Portage, Mich., women’s softball coach; and William Smith, of Sturgis, head bowling coach.

Elliott previously served as the assistant basketball coach at Anderson University. His coaching experience included several high schools in both Indiana and Georgia and he has also served in athletic director roles. Elliott is an alumnus of Glen Oaks where he received an Associate of Science in Business. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Arts and Humanities from Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He played basketball for the Vikings during the 1990s.

Slancik recently served as interim coach for Viking softball. He previously coached softball at Vicksburg High School and has coached several fast-pitch travel teams as well as a number of baseball travel teams. Slancik has a Master in Criminal Justice Administration and Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, both from Ferris State University. He also earned a Liberal Arts Associate from Delta College. Slancik currently teaches criminal justice classes at the college.

Smith will coach the newly formed Viking bowling team. He is the owner and operator of Bad-Boys Pro-Shop, in Bronson, which specializes in bowling balls, shoes, accessories and custom fit drilling. Smith has served as the bowling coach for both Sturgis High School and Junior Varsity teams.

Glen Oaks to host motorcycle safety training course

Soon the roar of motorcycles will be heard across the campus of Glen Oaks Community College, the new regional host site for the State Motorcycle Safety Training course.

For Michigan bikers to receive a motorcycle endorsement in Michigan, they are required to complete a basic skills course. In the recent past, the course has been held at the Sturgis Middle School.

“Classroom activities introduce the mental and perceptual processes needed to be a good rider and show participants how to process information and make safe decisions,” said Paul Aivars, GOCC director of business outreach. “The riding sessions have participants practice basic controls including clutch and throttle coordination, straight-line riding, stopping, turning, and shifting using the program’s motorcycles. Also included are quicker stops, curves, and swerves. It is important not only to be healthy, but also to have enough fitness, strength, and coordination to learn well and manage the physical demands of riding a motorcycle.”

The Motorcycle Safety Program has been in St. Joseph County and coordinated through the auspices of Glen Oaks since 1998. White Pigeon High School was the first site for the range training portion for several years before it was transferred to the Sturgis Armory for another couple of years and then to Sturgis Public School through 2020.

“With the help of the State of Michigan in repaving a section of the parking lot at the college for range testing, the program has now been transferred to the college,” said Aivars.

Since its inception, hundreds of participants have been trained in operating a motorcycle safely and have earned their motorcycle endorsement on their license — which is now mandatory to ride in the State of Michigan.

Basic Rider classes are offered in one day, either on a Saturday or Sunday.  Range instruction takes place on a Saturday or Sunday using the programs training motorcycles.

Registration for the Motorcycle Safety program takes place in the early spring and due to the high demand, the program fills up fast. Classes are filled up for this spring and summer.

“We are excited about the opportunity to serve as the host site for the program and look forward to many more years of training,” said Aivars.

oak leaf favicon
Glen Oaks ramps up in-seat classes for fall; registration is now under way

Registration is now under way for summer and fall classes at Glen Oaks Community College, and students can take advantage of an increase in on-campus classes.

“Prior to the pandemic, we would typically start fall semesters with about 85 % of our classes in the traditional, face-to-face format,” said Michael Goldin, vice-president of academics. “This fall, nearly half of our classes are being held in-seat, while the remainder are being offered in online, hybrid or synchronous formats.”

“While many students are ready to be back to class in person, we serve a number of different populations,” said Goldin, “and there is now a segment of our students who have gained a comfort level with and prefer the online formats. “Typically, these are the adult students who are trying to work around jobs, childcare and family issues.”

Since last March, the college has offered most of its classes in online and hybrid formats, except for a few skilled trades and lab classes.

“We began the Fall 2020 semester with about 45% of our classes in-seat, and our faculty had to be in a position to convert those classes back to online if necessary – which ended up being the case as a result of the state mandate last November,” said Goldin. “Our faculty rose to the occasion — last spring and again last fall. Hopefully, we won’t be in that scenario this fall.”

With vaccinations now offered for the entire Michigan adult population over the next few months, the expectation is that planned in-seat classes will stay in-seat. “We will continue to monitor the state mandates,” said Goldin, “and as of now, the mask requirement and social distancing will stay.”

For the summer semester, a greater number of online courses is offered, although skilled trades, health professions and lab science courses are offered with traditional face-to-face components.

Morgan Balcom
Balcom steps down as women’s head basketball coach at Glen Oaks

Glen Oaks Community College has announced that women’s head basketball coach Morgan Balcom is stepping down after accepting a new job out of state. Coach Balcom’s made the announcement after last Tuesday’s game.

“These last five years at Glen Oaks have been truly a blessing,” said Balcom. “Once being a player for the program and then being the head coach was truly a great experience. We changed the culture and started to build something special again at Glen Oaks.”

“The credit goes to the young ladies who put all of their heart and soul into the program to bring it back up from the bottom,” said Balcom. “To all of you, I thank you for being great students first and athletes second.”

Balcom served as head coach for the past five years, and was the assistant coach for a year prior to that.

She extends a hearlfelt thanks to Glen Oaks, the players, athletic directors and assistant coaches to help the program grow.

Assistant coach Gabriel Russell is serving as interim head coach through the end of the season.

Becky McKee
Frontliners program is helping students achieve career goals

After 25 years, Rebecca McKee is back in the classroom, although this time it is virtual, and her tuition and mandatory fees are now covered through the Futures for Frontliners program put into place by the State of Michigan last year.

“It’s so different,” said McKee. “All my classes through Glen Oaks Community College are online, which was all a new experience for me; but fortunately, my 23-year-old son has been a huge help in steering me through the hoops of online learning technologies. I don’t own a textbook as my books are online. And since the start of Covid-19, ZOOM meetings with pharmaceutical reps at work has helped my comfort level with technology.”

Glen Oaks had 144 students eligible for the Futures for Frontliners program out of which 98 are currently enrolled.

“Of those enrolled, 66 received funding from Frontliners,” said Tonya Howden, vice-president of student services. “Students who did not receive Frontliner funds may not have met the six- hour credit requirement of the program or may have already received federal/state aid to cover tuition costs. For those who did qualify for the program, Frontliners offered a great opportunity for financial assistance to earn a college credential.”

McKee obtained her medical assistant certificate in 1999 and has been working in a cardiology office in Kalamazoo (Bronson Advanced Cardiac Healthcare) for over 15 years. She is assigned to a doctor and handles the paperwork and prescriptions.

Working toward her Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Management with a Certificate in Business Management, McKee began the program in January. She is working to advance her career in the medical field. “My boss is going to retire in a few years and I heard about the Futures for Frontliners program, so the timing was ideal,” said McKee.

McKee does most of her coursework when she gets home from work and on weekends.  “Even though I can work at my own pace, I want to stay ahead of the course material.” Plans for her would be to finish the program sometime next year.

A Three Rivers resident, McKee has recently been promoted to co-clinical coordinator where the clinical staff report to her. Her job entails making sure providers and patients are taken care of, along with creating daily schedules,

“My Glen Oaks experience has been challenging – but good. I’m looking forward to the next semester,” said McKee.