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September 13, 2010 - The Aquinas College Reflection Award is given to an individual who reflects the values of Aquinas College: commitment, vision, service, loyalty, and integrity. In recognition of Joan Secchia's contributions to education and society as a whole, she will receive the Aquinas Reflection Award on Monday, September 20. The evening's events begin at 6 p.m. in the Aquinas College Sturrus Sports & Fitness Center, 1580 East Fulton Street.

Secchia became a member of the Aquinas Board of Trustees in 1995 and remained on the Board through 2001. While on the board, she was chair of the Student Affairs Committee and gave a great deal of time and energy to the improvement of campus life. Her leadership and vision were invaluable on the Cook Carriage House renovation project and her creative ideas played an important part in transforming the area into "the place to meet" on campus with the Moose Cafe and offices for various student activities.

"We were led and inspired by Joan's genuine concern for student life," said David Weinandy, Ph.D., a communication professor, who also worked on the renovation. "Her dedication to community service is a thoughtful and deliberate act that is a core, natural component of her personality."

After receiving her degree and teaching certificate from Michigan State University, Secchia taught fourth grade in an elementary school in Rockford, Michigan. She also taught fifth grade in East Grand Rapids. Her community service is wide-ranging especially in education and children's issues including being an active supporter of the Grand Rapids Public Schools Advancement Foundation and the Grand Rapids Children's Assessment Center. She has served on the boards of Opera Grand Rapids and the Women's Resource Center. She was also board officer and on the executive committee of the Kent County Red Cross and was president of the East Grand Rapids High School Parent, Teacher, Student Association.

When Secchia's husband Peter, was appointed as ambassador to Italy in 1989, her commitment to service continued. She was a member of the Fulbright Commission, a board member of USO (United Service Organizations) and was active in promoting Girls' and Boy's Town in Italy. She also was instrumental in the development of a Rome chapter of Navy League. The extensive restoration of the Villa Taverna, residence of the U.S. Ambassadors to Italy, was done with Secchia's planning and direction. She supervised the complete refurbishing of guest suites and public rooms in the historic residence.

The Aquinas community is grateful to Secchia for the time, talent and caring she has so graciously given over the years and we are proud to recognize her achievements and commitments with the Aquinas College Reflection Award.

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