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2020 Spring/Summer Highlights of Hope

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PURPLE COMMUNITY

PURPLE COMMUNITY STUDENTS HONE LEADERSHIP SKILLS AT VAI PURPLE COMMUNITY LUNCH & LEARN Katie Tietema first heard about the Van Andel Institute Purple Community Leadership Lunch & Learn when a representative from VAI reached out to St. Paul the Apostle School, where Tietema works. Tietema was immediately intrigued by the event, which brings together dozens of students and educators to learn about the biomedical research and science education initiatives happening at VAI. Tietema helped assemble a group of 70 students and teachers to attend. “Every single student we brought knows someone in their family or has a close friend who has been impacted by one of the diseases being studied at VAI,” Tietema said. “It’s sad but true, and it makes the Institute’s mission very relevant to our students.” The October 2019 PC Lunch & Learn was the Institute’s fourth annual and the first to be open to all schools. Approximately 180 students and educators attended, the largest group in the event’s history. Attendees were welcomed by WOOD-TV’s Maranda, who emceed the event. Groups were given tours of Van Andel Institute for Education’s lab nearby, where chief education officer Terra Tarango explained the Institute’s work and how her team creates classrooms where curiosity, creativity and critical thinking thrive. Students even participated in hands-on experiments. WEST MICHIGAN STUDENTS LUNCH & LEARN WITH PURPLE COMMUNITY Dr. Payton Stevens, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Bart Williams, hosted a discussion with attendees about the biomedical research being done at the Institute. Stevens shared with students how community support helps scientists at VAI pursue breakthroughs that may improve outcomes for patients with diseases like Parkinson’s and cancer. Tietema and her group were so impressed by the event that they decided to partner with Purple Community for St. Paul the Apostle’s annual Parish 5K & Festival fundraiser. Tietema said teachers at the school also plan to attend future Lunch & Learn events. This year will be the first time the Institute will host two Lunch & Learn events; one is in March and another in October. “Our students were so excited and asked so many great questions during the PC Lunch & Learn,” she said. “It was great to see how engaged and interested they were.” To learn more about Van Andel Institute Purple Community events, visit purplecommunity.org. 24 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE

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