Across Campus

April 20, 2015


Nursing graduate will apply to medical schools

Like other students who plan to apply to medical schools, Allison Swets is studying for the medical school admissions test, the MCAT.

She stands out from many students, however, as Swets already has a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Swets graduated from Grand Valley’s Kirkhof College of Nursing last year. She was a second-degree student, having earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

Swets said earning a nursing degree, then wanting to further her education with a medical degree stems from caring for her son, Roger, who has cerebral palsy and needs round-the-clock care.

“He spent the first three months of his life in the hospital,” Swets said. “The nurses and doctors who cared for him really inspired me.”

Swets is a native of New York City and was the first in her family to attend college. She said she picked mathematics over pre-med at that time because without the guidance of mentors and other resources pre-med seemed daunting.

In February, Swets and other Grand Valley pre-med students served as mentors to Grand Rapids Public School students who participated in the Health Careers Pipeline program held at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

Allison Swets

Allison Swets 

For eight weeks, the high school students learned about different health care careers. Swets said she was able to connect with the young students and hopefully provide them with some of the guidance that would have been so valuable to her when she was a young student.

“I come from a Puerto Rican family. I look at these students and they are bright and energetic, but sometimes the support is not there,” she said. “The Pipeline program was great; they learned a lot about the medical field and saw lots of opportunities.”

Swets said her nursing background and education will aid her during medical school. She said, “My nursing training will give me insights into patient care that I would not have otherwise and will make me a better doctor.  I am very grateful for my time at the Kirkhof College of Nursing.”

With her husband, Swets established a scholarship, the Maria I. Perez Nursing Scholarship, at Grand Valley that benefits nursing students pursuing a bachelor’s degree who otherwise may not have the opportunity to pursue a nursing career.


Campus members, mayor celebrated at annual sustainability awards

Sustainability champions on and off campus were celebrated at the seventh annual Grand Valley Sustainability Champions Awards Breakfast April 10.

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell received the Legacy Award, a new award that was presented on behalf of the West Michigan community and the Grand Rapids Community Sustainability Partnership (CSP), a network of more than 200 organizations committed to sustainability practices. Thirty-two students, faculty, staff members and community members were recognized for their efforts and impact.

“Mayor Heartwell has played a big role in bringing the sustainability community together in West Michigan,” said Norman Christopher, executive director of the Grand Valley Office of Sustainability Practices. “He helped establish CSP, and set sustainability goals for the city of Grand Rapids so we can live in a better place today and tomorrow.”

Heartwell said those who live in a sustainable manner are part of a community that continues to build and challenge each other, which is the type of relationship Grand Rapids enjoys with Grand Valley.

Four recipients of the Nichols Sustainability Scholarship were also recognized at the breakfast. The scholarship was created in 2006 to reward students who are committed to making a difference in environmental, social and fiscal sustainability. Nichols, established in 1936, is a distributor of products to clean and protect the Great Lakes region.

New this year was a student showcase of sustainability-related course work and research. 


Faculty, staff to compete in Boston Marathon

From left to right are Lindsey DesArmo, Scott Whisler, Amy Bross and Randy Winchester.

Photo by Amanda Pitts

From left to right are Lindsey DesArmo, Scott Whisler, Amy Bross and Randy Winchester.

Four faculty and staff members will run the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 20.

Three are first-timers: Amy Bross, assistant director of communications for University Development; Lindsey DesArmo, health and wellness specialist; and Randy Winchester, associate professor of chemistry.

Scott Whisler, project manager for Facilities Planning, qualified and ran during the 2010 Boston Marathon.


Twirler places among top five at international competition

Moriah Muscaro, Grand Valley’s baton twirler, rose above twirlers from around the world to place fourth during an international competition.

Muscaro competed as part of Team USA in the Baton Solo Event category at the World Federation National Baton Twirling Association World Baton Twirling Championships in early April in Italy. Muscaro said her “two perfect routines” during the preliminary and final rounds were personal bests.

“Twirling for 17 years, my goal was always to reach this highest level, so just to be at the World Championships was a dream come true,” Muscaro, a third-generation twirler, said. “I am very proud to bring this fourth place finish back to the USA and GVSU.”

Muscaro earned her spot on Team USA by winning a finalist position at the National Baton Twirling Association national championships in 2014. Her spot on Team USA is an honor Muscaro said many twirlers aspire to attain, but few actually achieve.

“I was so honored to be a part of this prestigious team because there are hundreds of American twirlers each qualification cycle that do not make it onto the team,” Muscaro said.

With graduation looming, Muscaro said she is sad to leave Grand Valley, but grateful for the experiences she’s been afforded. “My years at GVSU have been the best of my life and I so hope that others have the opportunity to experience what I have been blessed to experience,” Muscaro said.

With offers from three medical schools on the table, Muscaro will retire from twirling to continue pursuing her dream of becoming a physician. Following one final competition this summer, she will continue to coach and judge.

Moriah Muscaro

Photo courtesy WFNBTA

Moriah Muscaro performs elbow pops during the WFNBTA World Baton Twirling Championships. 


Grand Valley named a Green College for sixth year

Grand Valley has been named one of the country’s most environmentally responsible colleges by The Princeton Review for the sixth year in a row. The university is included in “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 353 Green Colleges: 2015 Edition.”

Released just prior to the April 22 celebration of the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, the guide profiles institutions of higher education in the U.S. that demonstrate exemplary commitments to sustainability.

Areas of evaluation included the university’s commitment to building at LEED standards, environmental programs, the use of renewable energy resources and recycling and conservation programs. Nearly 900 schools were surveyed to be included in the guide.