I was asked recently what do I realize now about my experience as a student at Grand River that I didn't realize or understand then, but now after several years can appreciate. Ironically enough, this has been somewhat the same question I have been asking alumni and current students. What makes GRA special and why do we continue to be successful with our mission?
The answer to this question, as an alum, came to me after several conversations with Grand River Alums from the early 1990's and also some of the guys I went to school with in the late 2000's. One was from Todd Fujawa '93 when he said, "have a goodnight brother" and another came from Nick Carey '10 when he responded to my outreach, "thanks brother, glad you're doing well too".
At the time I didn't think anything of these, and other similar responses but now I have fully realized that they hold part of the key to Grand River's success - brotherhood. The amazing concept that guys who don't know each other and have no other connection except attending Grand River can consider themselves in a greater brotherhood is not only exciting, but a sign of the positive affect GRA has on our students.
I was a member of a national fraternity in college where of course the goal of membership was brotherhood and a lifelong bond. I like to think we have a Grand River fraternity. I have found that our students forever remember the friendships and relationships we have made with other students, faculty, and staff. Because we share similar experiences over the decades, generations of GRA alums have that bond which only we can share.
This is why when Allen Fritz '88 came on campus for dinner last week, we shared stories of Mr. Archer's hilarious classroom antics, of Austinburg's harsh winters in dress pants and tie, and also the common understanding that without Grand River-we would not be where we are today. The Academy which bonds all alumni together, creates and instills the sense of family and motivation to constantly work harder and succeed.