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Assistant Professor or untenured Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University

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Commencement Student Spotlight 2022

Michele Grissum
Michele Grissum | Third Wheel Photography

Michele Grissum, a former chemical engineering undergraduate student from 1983 to 1987, reinstated in 2022 and received her degree in Petrochemical Science and Engineering. The following story recounts her time at Stanford and her subsequent life journey.

“Upon initially stepping foot on Stanford campus, I was awe-inspired by its beauty and excited to begin a new phase of my life. This was a chance for advancement, and I was determined to make the most of it.

My freshman year was fun and frightening. I desired to maximize this favorable juncture, but I didn’t want to squander this lifetime opportunity. I encountered hundreds of students “just like myself” – who had achieved what I achieved, who were decorated and acclaimed like I had previously been, who were used to succeeding – just like me.

I experienced the highs and lows of “grading on a curve”. I learned to develop new study habits and balance extra-curricular activities with completing my assignments/problem sets. I pledged a sorority, joined various professional societies and met my husband to be. I even discovered what “all-nighters” were.

As the years progressed, the challenges increased. The privilege of being taught from world-renown professors was intimidating but rewarding. I failed to take advantage of office hours – which perhaps, if I did, this article wouldn’t be relevant. Knowing now what I’ve learned about life, it’s apparent that all things work out according to a designed purpose.

I have had a busy and what I would consider a fruitful life since Stanford. I married a fellow Stanford classmate – Darrell W. Grissum, who obtained his B.A. degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Organizational Behavior in 1985. Darrell now serves as the Senior Pastor of the Lily of the Valley Church of God in Christ and L D Bowen District Superintendent of the AZ Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ. He was recognized as the Church of God in Christ ‘Top 100 Most Influential Pastors’.

We now live in Parker, AZ which is amid the Colorado River Indian Reservation. We have to our credit eleven offspring (8 boys and 3 girls). We served as the primary educators of our children in initially establishing the Small Beginnings Christian Academy homeschool. In establishing SBCA, we utilized the coursework taken at Stanford to aid in designing our curriculum.

I utilized my background in chemistry, petrochemicals, engineering and material science to design projects/experiments and real-life examples to convey educational concepts, techniques and principles. In a sense, we were applying the STEM approach before it became popular. Darrell used his liberal arts background to bring to life literature, the arts and creative writing, while instilling in our children a quest to learn, investigate and discover true meaning.

To date, all of our 11 children have obtained their high school credentials (at the age of 16) and nine have obtained college and graduate degrees and certifications and are now working in their field of study. We have an attorney, an author/educator, a pilot, a behavioral scientist/professional musician, an investment banker, a mortician/educator, an administrator/salon owner/photographer, an entertainment designer, an EMT/production manager, a pageant finalist/banker/college student and a college student/production supervisor. The children have assisted in ministry and are renown singers/musicians and are known as “God’s Small Wonders”.

Grissum Family Photo
The Grissum Family | Third Wheel Photography

In addition to homeschooling our children, I assisted Darrell in ministry, which includes church financial officer (bookkeeper/accountant, trustee board member), assisting in the publication and distribution of our church’s newsletter, children’s ministry leader (utilizing my knowledge of applied science to illustrate biblical principles), Women’s Bible study leader, public speaker and workshop leader.

In each of these areas, the knowledge that I acquired from my coursework at Stanford was utilized to convey, demonstrate and illustrate Biblical concepts as well as aid congregants in obtaining a better quality of life. In 2018, we established the Small Beginnings Christian Academy Private School in which I was the Executive Director and Administrator. At SBCA, I was a major contributor in the utilization of science and technology to implement educational concepts. We have now converted the school to a virtual academy.

We have traveled extensively as a family, not only for ministry obligations but to enhance homeschool education experience for our children. I have also been involved in the community as a member of the La Paz Regional Hospital Advisory Board, the Colorado River Crisis Shelter Board and assisted in establishing the Colorado River Chapter of the NAACP.  My goal is to contribute to society, not by being a big tree, but spread the concept of planting a forest.”