Distinguished Alumni Award

About the Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Grand Rapids Community College. The award recognizes former Grand Rapids Community College or Grand Rapids Junior College students who through their distinction in their chosen field of endeavor, service to society, and dedication and loyalty to the college, exemplify the core values of Accountability, Diversity, Excellence, Innovation, Integrity, Respect, Responsiveness, and Sustainability.

Nominations for the Distinguished Alumni Award are accepted June through February each year. Learn how to make a nomination. For more information about Alumni Relations, visit grcc.edu/alumni or call (616) 234-3939.

2019-20 Award Winner:
Teresa Weatherall Neal, M.Ed.

Superintendent Neal earned an associate degree from what was then Grand Rapids Junior College in 1993 before earning a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Grand Valley State University, a master’s degree in educational leadership from Western Michigan University, and an honorary doctorate from GVSU. She is also a graduate of the Michigan Leadership Institute’s Superintendent Leadership Academy. 

Teresa Weatherall Neal has been with Grand Rapids Public Schools since she was 4 years old, first as a K-12 student and then as a student worker, administrative assistant, coordinator of compliance, and assistant superintendent before rising to the role of superintendent in 2012.

Neal has a deep-rooted belief that all children can reach their academic potential through effort, high expectations, and strong support systems.

She and the district have gained state and national attention for the success of the GRPS Transformation Plan, which is increasing graduation rates and reducing chronic absenteeism. The effort includes comprehensive professional development focused on equity and inclusion and innovative new school choices. She also has been a leader in building public-private partnerships to support the district and its students.

Under Superintendent Neal’s leadership, GRPS enrollment has increased for the first time in 20 years.

“Teresa Weatherall Neal’s journey to becoming the inspiring leader she is today started with GRPS and Grand Rapids Junior College,” President Bill Pink said. “She is a role model for everyone graduating today and into the future. She is the perfect example of the impact a person can have on a community, and how a community college degree can provide the foundation for doing tremendous things.”