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AGUAYO-MÁRQUEZ, Grant program manager aims to boost health care workforce

AGUAYO-MÁRQUEZ, Grant program manager aims to boost health care workforce

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Lorena Aguayo-Márquez said she’s always had a passion for serving and educating her community. Now, she is part of a team that is responsible for building a future health care workforce during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Aguayo-Márquez came to the Grand Rapids area over 23 years ago to attend college. She obtained her Bachelor of Business Administration from ITT Technical Institute in Wyoming and later her Master of Education in educational leadership from Grand Valley State University (GVSU).

Prior to earning her master’s degree, Aguayo-Márquez found her way to Grand Rapids Community College, which would be the beginning of a 15-yearlong career in workforce development.

“When I was working at Lighthouse Communities, now LINC UP, a previous supervisor reached out to me and encouraged me to apply for a new position at the college,” she said. “At first I hesitated to apply, but after serious consideration, I applied for the position.”

As the adult education program assistant, she managed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grant that provided English language programming to over 200 students per year in West Michigan.

“When we had our first class of graduates, that’s when I discovered that I loved being part of a student’s learning journey,” she said. “Every year I look forward to seeing students, their families and friends at commencement ceremonies. As a first-generation college student, I had lots of challenges navigating the higher education system and along the way made many mistakes.”

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Aguayo-Márquez also was the Kellogg Community recruitment specialist, where I was responsible for community engagement and outreach, from 2018-21.

She stepped into her current role as program manager for the Strengthening Community Colleges (SCC) in Healthcare grant in June 2021. She said the grant will build the capacity of Michigan community colleges to address equity gaps and meet the skill development needs of health care employers.

As an active community organizer, Aguayo-Márquez often can be seen at local events, city commission meetings and in the streets advocating for equity and justice.

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