Leaving a Legacy: Michael and Sherryl Despres

Michael and Sherryl Despres

GRJC alumni have made plans to support future GRCC students

Michael and Sherryl Despres are both Grand Rapids Junior College alumni. They came to campus in very different circumstances and have used what they learned in different ways. But they agree on the importance of helping future generations get their start at GRCC.

Michael chose GRJC because of its cost and the scholarship help he received. 

"I was uncertain of what my future would hold if I went to a four-year school right away," he said, "and I knew all my credits would transfer to a four-year school."

He considered pursuing law or psychology and finally decided on business. He had noteworthy help when he transferred to Michigan State University to finish his finance degree: GRJC President Richard Calkins wrote a letter of recommendation.

Sherryl also chose GRJC because of cost — but its location was equally important for her because she worked full time while taking classes at night. After she received her associate degree, she transferred to Grand Valley State University to study psychology and eventually became an actress, appearing in "Rodeo Girl," "State of Modern Love" and "Cemetery Stories." 

Michael is now a private investment manager and vice president of investments at Wells Fargo Advisors. In between acting roles, Sherryl is an acting coach and executive secretary for Grand Rapids Civic Theatre's board of directors.

Michael's ties to the GRCC Foundation started as a student representative on the board, while Sherryl enjoyed the alumni trips. 

Both Despreses want to see GRCC continue to support the students who come through its doors in all manner of life circumstances.

"Planned giving is a legacy we can leave to help the community even after we are gone," Sherryl said.

"What would West Michigan be without GRCC?" Michael said. "The cost and benefit from GRCC is great. Supporting GRCC helps others who are less fortunate, but it also helps build a better future for our entire community."