Bonnie Peterson named 2019 Unsung Hero

Bonnie Peterson/Courtesy:GVSU

Bonnie Peterson/Courtesy:GVSU

Autumn Babas

Grand Valley State University has more than 3,500 faculty and staff members serving in a wide variety of essential and complementary roles on campus. While GVSU has thousands of hard-working employees, some individuals go above and beyond in their daily tasks, doing more than what is asked of them to improve the community and assist others. These individuals are often not recognized for their great contributions behind the scenes, so in an effort to recognize these outstanding individuals, the GVSU Women’s Commission gives out the Unsung Hero Award each spring. This year, the winner is Bonnie Peterson. 

The Unsung Hero Award, which was established in 2012, honors the contributions of those who improve the GVSU community, who may not be well known by the general public for the outstanding efforts they make. It is presented to an individual at GVSU that has impacted and worked immensely hard to improve the lives of students, faculty and staff.

Peterson fits the quota perfectly for this award. She works as the Office Coordinator with the TRIO Upward Bound Program in the College of Education and goes above and beyond in extending her helping hand.  Peterson looks for new ways each day to leave an impact on the GVSU community.

“I advocated for one of the Grand Valley’s Mom’s Network on the Grand Rapids Pew Campus,” Peterson said. “There had always been a Mom’s Network in Allendale to serve the staff, faculty, parents and caretakers there, but we didn’t have one downtown, so a colleague of mine and I were talking about how great it would be to have one on the Pew Campus.”

Peterson and her colleague worked with Human Resources and advocated for the need to have a support service such as Mom’s Network in downtown Grand Rapids on GVSU’s Pew Campus. They were approved and have been running it now for three years. 

Peterson not only has helped GVSU thrive through her powerful visions of improvement, but she is also the co-chair of the Professional Support Staff Development Committee at GVSU.

“I develop and implement professional development opportunities for the Professional Support Staff,” Peterson said. “I also help plan an appreciation luncheon for all 375 staff members each year in April and advocate for PSS at Grand Valley, trying to make it an equitable work space.”

The Unsung Hero award is giving by nomination. The individual chosen displays character traits of a true “Hero” through contributing to GVSU’s mission, displaying a positive influence, staying committed, leading in acts of kindness and having compassion for GVSU. 

Peterson was nominated for this award by a colleague of hers in the College of Education.

“It was really exciting to me and a big surprise,” Peterson said. “I didn’t know until I got the email that said you were nominated and selected to win this award. I am honored and feel very thankful to have won.”

The Unsung Hero award was presented to Peterson at the annual Women’s Commission Celebrating Women Awards Ceremony on March 27 in the Kirkhof Center Grand River Room. Peterson received the award and shared her thankfulness in her speech that evening.

“There is so many ways that staff, faculty and students can become involved and contribute to the good for the Grand Valley Community,” Peterson said. “What’s really important to me is that I am making an impact in this community.”

Along with Peterson’s contributions at GVSU, she also makes sure to care for each and every individual around her by creating deeper connections and communicating to people about happenings in their lives. She often remembers the little details someone tells her, showing how much she truly cares. 

“I am usually the one that asks you about something you told me last week or checking in about something you told me about your family members,” Peterson said. “I help people out anytime I see they need it.”

On top of all Peterson’s work, she also manages being a mom and a student at GVSU. Peterson is majoring in LIB Study with an emphasis in leadership. 

“With the encouragement and support of GVSU, my family and friends I started and I am finishing my degree,” Peterson said. “I look at it as an opportunity to be an example and role model to others.”

Another major goal of Peterson’s is to advocate for the adult student population, hoping to develop some stronger support services and resources to help those students at GVSU to succeed.