Grand Valley Magazine - (Page 33)

ALU M N I N EWS Four degrees of separation Alumni with the most diplomas by Abigayle Sloan, '07 Michael Nicholson's 1960s vintage green Smith-Corona typewriter has been with him through countless projects, literature reviews and research papers. It helped him work his way to earning one bachelor's degree, one doctorate and 27 other advanced degrees. Nicholson's first college graduation was from Detroit's William Tyndale College in 1963, and the most recent have been master's degrees from Grand Valley in general education (2005), public administration (2008), health administration (2009) and special education administration (2010). The 73-year-old retiree was born to a Canadian father who never finished third grade and a mother who did not pursue education beyond her high school diploma. Yet Nicholson pursued his passion for education and currently holds the unofficial world record for earning the most college degrees. He chose Grand Valley because of its convenience, but discovered a deeper connection when he arrived at the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. "The DeVos Center food court looks like a train station," he said. "I feel at home when I walk into that building." Nicholson grew up traveling by steam train to and from Canada to visit family. He met his wife, Sharon, while pursuing his bachelor's degree in Detroit. The two have lived in Kalamazoo since 1980. Four Laker commencement tassels are proudly hanging above a desk in his home office next to the dozens of others. He expects to add a fifth to the collection when he completes his final class in the master's of criminal justice program this fall. "The more I went to school, the more I saw the professors had something I didn't have, so I wanted to get what they had," he said. Nicholson took some early advice to heart: don't quit too soon. With a short-term goal of receiving 33 college degrees in all, he insisted that he will keep taking classes until he is no longer able to strike the ivory colored keys on his trusty typewriter. MICHAEL NICHOLSON, '05 & '08 & '09 & '10 "The more I went to school, the more I saw the professors had something I didn't have ... I wanted to get what they had." Michael Nicholson AIDA TOLEDO Aida Toledo, 38, was the youngest of eight children born to Puerto Rican parents in Chicago. Her mother finished fourth grade and her dad graduated from middle school. Her family moved to West Michigan while she was young; Toledo grew up attending Grand Rapids Public Schools. She worked full time, supporting herself through her first degree from Grand Valley in criminal justice in 2003. An advocate for structure and discipline, Toledo started working with teens entering juvenile detention in Kent County. She also spent time guiding youth between the ages of AIDA TOLEDO, '03 & '07 & '09 & '10 11-17 at the former Project Rehab of Grand Rapids. There, she coordinated long- and short-term substance abuse programs for six years, in an effort to keep teens out of jail. 33 Grand Valley Magazine

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Grand Valley Magazine

Table of Contents
Campus News
Donor Impact
Art of the Possible
One Book Carries Discussions Beyond Classroom
One Million Hours
Power Trio Turns Ideas Into Companies
Q&A Renee Freeman
Off the Path
Focal Point
Alumni News

Grand Valley Magazine