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2023 Employee Scholarship Recipients

We are pleased to announce the recipients of our 2023 Employee Scholarships. These four exemplary employees will receive funds toward their tuition costs to help them achieve their educational dreams. Through the support of our generous donors, the Beacon Hill at Eastgate Scholarship Fund was established to support and encourage employees pursuing further education and training. Employees are recommended by their supervisors and winning recipients are selected by the Scholarship Selection committee after application review, in-person meetings and final approval by the Board of Directors.

Through this scholarship fund, our incredible donors are investing and encouraging our employees to follow their career aspirations, which in turn enriches our entire community.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Max Gage, attending Michigan State University and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Music
  • Ashley Hodges, attending Grand Rapids Community College and pursuing an associates degree in Nursing
  • Marquisha Kennedy, attending Grand Rapids Community College and pursuing an associates degree in Nursing
  • Rene Figueroa-Ocampo, attending Grand Rapids Community College and pursuing an associates degree in Nursing


We recognize these four excellent employees as they all share passion for their work in their individual roles. Each of them has excelled in their training and taking on new responsibilities. And equally importantly, each one is living the values of our community. We are lucky to have Max, Ashley, Marquisha and Rene on our team. Please read on to learn more about each employee, their reasons for nomination and educational pursuits.

Max is a seasonal Garden Attendant in the Garden Cafe. He is studying jazz at Michigan State University, a career he feels called to as he says music is a common thread throughout his life. Max comes from a musical family and was taught piano lessons by his grandmother. He has received several honors including making the Dean’s List (2020-22) and MSU Outstanding Musician (2020), among others. He also was a member of the Grand Rapids Symphonette (2014-2020). Max generously shares his musical talents with residents, and one of his favorite moments at work includes playing the piano for the Memory Unit. In Max’s role as a member of The Café team, he assists residents with their plots while tending the kitchen gardens and trees. “Residents reach out to me weekly and, often daily, to say how helpful, hardworking and genuinely kind he is,” said Maggie Thiel, Garden Café Manager, and Max’s supervisor. “Max is a good human who consistently shows care for our residents and staff.”  He is excited to continue his studies and to share his passion for music with others.

Ashley is a Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) pursuing an associates degree in Nursing at Grand Rapids Community College. She says she was born with a heart to serve others and that she did not choose nursing as her profession—it chose her. Ashley appreciates the opportunity to offer comfort and reassurance to residents and their family members, and to assist her coworkers on a daily basis, by providing relief and support. “Ashley has the ability to adapt to anyone’s situation,” said Pam Deacon, Nurse Manager, and Ashley’s supervisor. “She has strong assessment skills, compassion and empathy.” Deacon describes Ashley as a leader in her ability to provide education to her teammates and families, and in how she manages the floor when working. Ashley also enjoys volunteering at her children’s school and participating in her church’s functions and Sunday school. She is a mother to three children, ages 19, 15 and 12.

Marquisha is a Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) pursuing an associates degree in Nursing at Grand Rapids Community College. She is a first-generation college graduate and a NICU Parent-to-Parent volunteer at Spectrum Health. Marquisha enjoys caring for others and specifically appreciates the chance to provide companionship for residents who may receive infrequent visitors. She is regularly recognized as making residents feel safe and special, as if they are her only patient. “Marquisha is a newer nurse but you would not know it,” said Deacon, Marquisha’s supervisor. “Her demeanor is one that inspires confidence and she is a leader on the floor. Her assessment skills are on point and she notices subtle changes that could be the start of a potential issue.” Marquisha’s intuitive care for her patients makes her an outstanding and esteemed member of the nursing staff.

Rene is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), pursuing an associates degree in Nursing at Grand Rapids Community College. She says she chose nursing because of the true, life-changing impact that nurses are able to witness in real-world time. She’s taken to heart her mother’s advice that “you can’t save the world, but you can save someone’s world, at least.” Rene is inspired by how a touch of compassion can make a dramatic difference in the health of a patient. “Rene’s enthusiasm for her work and her empathy towards both residents and colleagues makes her a valuable member of our team,” said Amanda Daggett, Director of Nursing. “We appreciate her positive outlook and we are excited to see her continue to grow and succeed in the field of nursing.” Rene is also a College Liaison Group Member, participates in Student Senate and enjoys mountain biking and mountaineering.

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Beacon Hill at Eastgate is a distinctive, not-for-profit retirement community located in Grand Rapids’ desirable Eastgate neighborhood.

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