GCU Did the Little Things Right for This Graduate

May 19, 2011 / by / 4 Comments

By David Smith
College of Education

One of the neat things about convocation and graduation week is the opportunity to meet and talk with our graduates from all over the country, in a setting that allows a free exchange of thoughts and ideas. 

One such exchange occurred for me in one of the COE building classrooms during the open house we held on May 5.

I met a husband and wife from New Mexico who had traveled to Phoenix for the weekend.  She was a graduate in the College of Education’s Curriculum & Instruction — Technology master’s program, and she taught mathematics at a community college in New Mexico. I didn’t get their names, but I wish that I had.

You know how it is when you ask a stranger about their experience at Grand Canyon. You never know what you will hear back! But her face lit up — as did her husband’s (which is a very good thing) — and she proceeded to tell me what she liked about the University.

I was interested in what she thought about the curriculum. Although she was complimentary, she also made the usual complaints about collaboration projects, the issues with getting other students to participate, etc. She definitely was coming out of graduation a better teacher than she was when she came in, and she made that plain to me.

“But that’s not what is so great about Grand Canyon University,” she said.  “Let me tell you what is.

“I teach math at the community college, and have a teaching mentor I work with. One day I was in her office and my cell phone rang. The display said ‘Grand Canyon University.’

“I excused myself with my mentor and took the call. At the time, I was in a break for a couple of weeks between classes, and my academic counselor had called to check in and see if there was anything GCU could do for me. Frankly, the call was a series of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers with a concluding ‘No, everything is fine.’”

“After the call, my mentor looked at me with a puzzled look. I explained it was Grand Canyon calling, and all they wanted to know was if everything was going well, and could they do anything? My mentor was shocked.

“’That’s all they wanted?’ she asked. 

“’That’s all they wanted,’ I said.

“But that’s not the only time the school called. At least twice they called while I was teaching in class. One time, after the call, my students asked who it was. When I explained that it was just my college checking in, one of them exclaimed, ‘I wish this school would check in and see how I’m doing!’”

We talked a bit further about the curriculum, some ways it could be improved, and about her experience as a GCU student. The whole conversation could not have lasted more than 10 minutes, but it reminds me of why we are here — and how our service affects students on a daily basis. 

For this woman, it was measured in caring.

All of us who touch the lives of students, either directly or indirectly, hear the problem stories. Less frequently do we get to hear the positive stories. Had the three of us not stopped to chat at the open house, I probably would not have heard this one.

Kudos to the nameless academic counselors who made those calls to touch base. Little did they know the lasting impact they were making with one of our students.

David Smith has been with GCU with nearly two years and serves as director of academic excellence for the College of Education. His wife, Jacqueline, is the University’s director of Career Services.


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4 Responses
  1. Ruth DuVan

    It’s not just my academic counselor, it’s my whole team of counselors, they are awesome. Even if I’m having a tough time outside of school, they are willing to listen.

    May.19.2011 at 2:08 pm
  2. Judie Strawderman

    I am the person that Mr. Smith spoke with. Seeing his comments makes me even more proud to be an alumni and, again a student (I am seeking a second Masters). GCU can be proud of how they treat their students and how they make us feel like we are a part of a family. I am truly honored to be a part of this university.

    May.25.2011 at 7:42 pm
  3. GCU Undergrad

    This story is a great example of what makes Grand Canyon University such an awesome school. I am certain that students at larger, state-run universities do not receive this kind of attention from their advisors. They don’t even know what they are missing! Way to go GCU!

    Jun.04.2011 at 11:04 pm
  4. Shirley Hammel

    This is a perfect example of why I have chosen to further my education at GCU. The personal touches to those of us who are on-line students mean a great deal. It made my ability to move from one program to another seamless. I tell everyone I can what a wonderful learning experience I have had and will continue to have.

    Jun.17.2011 at 3:23 pm
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