Day 2 Move-In Blog: Cheers to Thatcher, Volunteers for Efforts

August 24, 2012 / by / 1 Comment

By Bob Romantic, Michael Ferraresi and Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau

Move-In at Camelback Hall was complete, and Sarah Thatcher did something she hadn’t done in about six years.

In the middle of a 19-hour workday on Friday – following a 17-hour day on Thursday – Thatcher popped open a Coke.

“I don’t drink Coke,” Thatcher said during a rare break during Move-In proceedings on Friday afternoon. “But I cracked it open … and it tasted great.”

Sarah Thatcher takes a rare break for an interview during Move-In proceedings on Friday. Thatcher & Co. arrived at 4:30 a.m. and planned to stay until nearly midnight to help with night-time events at GCU.

Thatcher and a group of 700 volunteers deserve a little refreshment after pulling off what Student Life Director John-Paul Reiger said was the best-run Move-In ever at GCU.

“We’re blessed to have a staff like GCU’s that will give like it gives,” Reiger said. “It’s just amazing to watch the whole operation come together. So much goes into it. Student Life and the Event Services team and Residence Life and Facilities and all the volunteers … they make it happen.”

Thatcher, the student involvement manager who is in charge of organizing Welcome Week, began preparations back in March. Her team was here at 4:30 a.m. during both days of Move-In and planned to be here until nearly midnight Friday to help with the residence hall meeting and dive-in movie event at the campus pool.

Then they’re back Saturday for the arrival of returning students.

Amazing Race Slideshow
For a look at photos from Thursday’s
Amazing Race at GCU, click here.
Day 1 Move-In Blog
For Thursday’s blog, click here.

“I’m exhausted, but happy,” Thatcher said Friday. “We were busy and there were a million volunteers doing a million different things. It’s so fun to see all the moving parts work, and in the middle of that get to see the students and the families who are so excited. They’re so grateful that we help them through Move-In.”

With two more residence halls in the works – bringing the total to seven, plus the North Rim Apartments — and even more students to move in, next year’s Welcome Week promises to be even more daunting.

“We’ll start planning that one even earlier,” Thatcher said.

Bob Romantic

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CONVOCATION GOES BOOM IN THE ARENA

Friday’s late-afternoon convocation in a two-thirds-full GCU Arena was one-third worship service and two-thirds pep rally, and the room was bursting with freshman energy. An 11-piece version of the Chapel band, led by Campus Music Director Gabe Salazar, got things off to a praise-filled start.

“What everyone has experienced the first couple of days is unbelievable,” Brian Mueller, GCU’s chief executive officer, told the crowd before explaining that the ‘Lopes Up sign is a perfect visual symbol of this year’s University-wide theme, “One Spirit, One Purpose.”

Student-body president Nick Ely spoke eloquently to the new students.

“GCU has something special to offer you that can change your life,” he said. “I believe that, because I received that…. Look for people who will be genuine and authentic and who will challenge you to grow.”

Trevor McNevan of the Christian band Thousand Foot Krutch, sporting a purple Antelopes baseball jersey, was interviewed briefly onstage by Pastor Tim Griffin before leading the crowd in a hard-rocking version of “Feel the Place Go Boom,” the anthem he wrote for GCU last year. Everyone went out the doors fired up.

TFK will perform on Saturday night at Thunderground, in the lower level of Thunder Alley, and it’s possible that even Flagstaff will feel the place will go boom. Earplugs are a good idea.

Doug Carroll

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WE LOVE THOSE HAPPY PARENTS

This email came from Terry Morytko, the mother of new student Kristin Vaughn: “I just want to thank you all for making us feel so welcome (Thursday). The move-in was so great. … We are from California and this move was making me nervous. But after I got there, you all made me see that my daughter will be safe and taken care of. She is the first of my three kids to move away, and she already loves it there. The college is so beautiful and I look forward to my visits. They say letting go is the hardest thing, and they are right. But I feel my daughter is in good hands.”

Doug Carroll

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MOVE-IN IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS

Plenty of new students — and their parents — pulled up Friday already sporting GCU gear. And Rachel Byrd met many of those who didn’t.

Rachel Byrd has been slaving over a hot cash register at the Arena Team Shop.

The manager of the Arena Team Shop said the store hasn’t been as hectic as it was during commencement last May, but she described it as “a constant busy.” About half of the shop’s inventory is new styles, and students and parents receive the same 10 percent discount in August that’s available to employees all year.

The store did $3,000 in business on Thursday’s first day of Move-In, Byrd said, with polos, tank tops and women’s tees moving briskly out the door. Only a makeshift store was in place for Move-In last year — the Arena was barely open then — and Byrd didn’t start in her position until October.

We had to ask: What’s she overhearing about GCU and Move-In?

“They’re saying Move-In is awesome,” Byrd said. “They love all the helpers. They think the campus is beautiful. And they’re asking us, ‘Where’s the Bookstore?'”

Doug Carroll 

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CAREER SERVICES BRACES FOR HUGE MONDAY

The influx of students this week and next gives GCU Career Services Director Jacqueline Smith and her team the perfect opportunity to do their thing.

Career Services’ focus is to help GCU students land on-campus jobs and provide them with resources to develop purposeful careers. But getting the job doesn’t happen without practice.

Career Services hosts a student job fair following Monday’s 10:45 a.m. Chapel service at GCU Arena. The job fair runs until 1:30 p.m.

Students will be able to introduce themselves to dozens of prospective employees from nearly every office on campus. Others might take the opportunity to follow up face-to-face about online job applications. It’s a networking experience for students, and GCU staffers have a chance to meet the crop of best and brightest incoming student workers.

Smith said the University was on pace to hire as many as 1,200 student workers this fall. Many of those positions — like those for tour guides at the Antelope Reception Center, or in food services or at any of the individual academic departments on campus — pay around $8 per hour for 20 hours of work each week.

Getting a job is only part of what students ought to be focused on, Smith said. Learning how to network, proper etiquette for interviews, and how to write an effective resume are all skills that Career Services coaches.

“We really are focused on preparing students from the moment they walk in the door,” said Smith, who worked 20 years as a job recruiter before coming to GCU.

“Anyone can be trained to do a job,” she said. “But you might not have that job if you can’t get your foot in the door.”

For more on GCU’s Career Services office, which is located in Prescott Hall, go to www.gcu.edu/careerservices.

Michael Ferraresi

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BY THE NUMBERS

After nearly 1,000 students moved into Canyon, Hegel and Prescott halls and the North Rim Apartments on Thursday, that same number was expected Friday at the two newest dorms (512 at Sedona, 446 at Camelback).

This weekend, when returning students move back in at GCU, even more are expected as GCU braces for the largest number of students (more than 2,600) living on campus in its history.

With the volunteer operation running like clockwork, about 100 students per hour were being moved into their dorm rooms, said GCU housing operations manager Eric Andrews.

Bob Romantic

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ANTELOPE INTRO

Mcallaster Miller

Age: 19

Hometown: Fort Collins, Colo.

Residence hall: Camelback

What drew you to GCU? “When I visited last year in October, I felt like I fit in. I’m a (Colorado State) Ram fan, but there’s something to be said for doing things on your own.”

First impressions? “This is a second first impression for me. (The campus has) changed since I visited. It has gotten bigger, but I still love it.”

About that unique first name: “I challenge people to go find another one anywhere!”

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VOLUNTEER ARMY TO THE RESCUE

Lyn Bickle, a veteran of the Move-In volunteer army, wouldn’t trade the moving experiences for anything. And she means the kind that move your emotions.

Lyn Bickle helped move in students at all five residence halls over two days.

Bickle said that on Thursday she became acquainted with a student’s mother who was concerned she wouldn’t be able to help her son.

“She said she had an affliction and didn’t know how she’d get his stuff up to his room in Hegel Hall,” Bickle said. “She told me she spent the whole time in the car praying about it. ‘You guys did an amazing job,’ she said.

“Another mom who works at a university in Massachusetts said they’d never be able to pull this off at their school.”

Bickle ticked off the residence halls where she had helped unload: Hegel, Canyon, Prescott, Sedona and finally Camelback. That’s five for five — nicely done, Lyn. Now go put your feet up for a bit.

Doug Carroll 

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STUDENT’S DAD IS MAKING FRIENDS OVER TV AD

Word is spreading about the new TV commercial by Bank of America featuring GCU. Junior Lauren Butler knows all about it: She’s in it — and so is her dad, Norm Butler, a B of A executive.

The commercial, which has been turning up on ESPN, highlights the partnership between the University and the bank in helping to put GCU on sound financial footing. Lauren says her Facebook friends are wild about Norm.

“They’re saying, ‘I think your dad is attractive,'” she said with a laugh Friday while taking a break from Move-In duties.

She’s on the Antelope cheer team and can’t wait for basketball season, hoping that so many new students will translate to larger crowds at the Arena.

One more thing about the ad, which you can watch by clicking here: That guy playing the professor is a stand-in and needs to keep his Communications job.

Doug Carroll

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ANTELOPE INTRO

Darryl Ford

Age: 17

Hometown: Cedar Hill, Texas

Residence hall: Camelback

What drew you to GCU? “They had my major in sports management, and a lot of other schools didn’t.”

First impressions? “I think it’s a great school. I didn’t know there would be so many more chicks than dudes, but I like that.”

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PURPLE WIG BACK OUT OF STORAGE

It’s pretty hard to question Dr. Mark Wooden’s devotion to GCU.

The dean of the College of Arts and Sciences missed Move-In on Thursday because his home was burglarized and trashed, causing about $30,000 in damages and lost items.

But he was present for a dinner on Thursday night with the Higher Learning Commission. And come Friday morning, he was back at GCU with a big smile on his face, a purple wig on his head, a “dancing deans” T-shirt on his back and the spirit to serve as a volunteer luggage lugger.

“The purple wig is just an expression of spirit,” said Wooden, who has several such wigs to break out on these occasions. “It’s good to let your hair down, especially if you don’t have any.”

After taking care of insurance matters related to the burglary on Thursday, Wooden said he wouldn’t miss Friday’s Move-In experience.

“It’s all about commitment to the students,” Wooden said. “That’s what the Canyon spirit is all about.”

Bob Romantic

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TAKING ITS TOLL

Sedona Hall resident director Victoria Leith began greeting new students with a smile and instructions for moving into their dorm at 6:40 a.m. Thursday.

By 7:15, the smile was still there but she began to lose her voice. And by 7:30 her phone, which has an app that is used to look up each student’s room number, was already down to 75 percent of its battery life.

She was crossing her fingers the batteries would hold up. And the voice? “She needs to drink more coffee,” said fellow Sedona RD Kris Hayes.

Hayes said 512 students were expected to move in today at Sedona, one of two new residence halls on campus.

Bob Romantic

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THUNDERGROUND GETS MAKEOVER

GCU's Thunderground at Thunder Alley will provide an exclusive, Christian underground club type atmosphere for students to see national recording artists. (Photo by Bret Ceren/GCU).

In the midst of Friday’s residence hall Move-In, the lower level of Thunder Alley began to transform with signage, lights and sound equipment.

The area known as Thunderground opens Saturday night with a free, student-only performance by Canadian Christian rockers Thousand Foot Krutch. The first 300 GCU students who show up will be admitted with their campus IDs.

GCU has scheduled five other Thunderground shows through December, including an exclusive Andy Mineo performance following Lecrae‘s “Unashamed Tour” show at GCU Arena on Nov. 2.

Michael Ferraresi

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ALL EYES ON GCU

Jose Moreno, community outreach manager at GCU, speaks with a television crew on Friday in between helping out as a volunteer Luggage Lugger.

News cameras from Channels 3, 10 and 15 were on campus to capture during the two days of Move-In, and there was additional media coverage by Channel 5, the Arizona Republic, the Phoenix Business Journal and Examiner.com.

Channel 10’s Kristy Siefkin interviewed one group of volunteer Luggage Luggers, who shared some of the more unusual items they helped carry into dorm rooms. Among them: antlers, seven beta fish, a parka and a snowboard.

We don’t want PETA after us, but we’re giving two thumbs up to the antlers idea.

Siefkin then turned the interview to her fellow Ch. 10 colleague Cory McClosky, who was helping his daughter move in on Thursday.

Bob Romantic

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ANTELOPE INTRO

Monique Karraa

Age: 19

Hometown: Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Residence hall: Sedona

What drew you to GCU? “I like Arizona and I’m a huge baseball fan. We’ve been coming here to Tempe to watch the (Los Angeles) Angels during spring training. Me and my dad are big Christian music fans, so we’ve heard about the shows GCU has on campus… that, and the fact that it’s a Christian school.”

First impressions? “I like it. I have a friend who goes to USC and when he moved in  it just didn’t look great. When we arrived, everyone was high-fiving us and welcoming me.”

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ANTELOPE INTRO

Jacob Berry

Age: 18

Hometown: Merced, Calif., though he has lived in Phoenix for several years

Residence hall: Sedona

What drew you to GCU? “I’m a pre-med student so going to the cadaver lab was a really big deal. You get exposure to a lot of stuff you don’t get at other undergraduate programs. Plus, I have a lot of friends who go here.”

First impressions? “I’d say ‘well-oiled machine.’ They have so many people and everyone looped around the building… I went down the stairs and there were files of people carrying stuff.”

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ANTELOPE INTRO

Taniya Ross

Age: 17

Hometown: Culver City, Calif.

Residence hall: Sedona

What drew you to GCU? “It was a private, Christian school and I had an academic scholarship. I had scholarships to five different schools but I really liked it here.”

First impressions? “Everyone has been very friendly and nice. It worked out great.”

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ALOHA GCU

Students come from all corners of the world to attend GCU.

Vakeesha Lagazo checks in with Sedona resident director Victoria Leith during Move-In on Friday.

For freshman Vakeesha Lagazo, the trip from Hawaii was not her first to Phoenix.

“My sister lives here, so I knew about Grand Canyon,” said Lagazo, who played six sports in high school. “I used to come over here all the time for volleyball and basketball tournaments.

“I like it because it’s not too crowded like some universities… and everything looks new.

“I’m excited to meet new people. Everybody seems real friendly.”

Bob Romantic

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ANTELOPE INTRO

Jaren Drummond

Age: 18

Hometown: Chandler

Residence hall: Sedona

What drew you to GCU? “I came to play baseball.” Drummond is a left-handed pitcher from Perry High School.

First impressions? “The campus looks really good. There’s a lot more people who aren’t moving in (volunteers) than there are people who are moving in. That’s not a bad thing though.”

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ANTELOPE INTRO

Re’al Haynes

Age: 18

Hometown: Dallas

Residence hall: Sedona

What drew you to GCU? “My friend (also a GCU freshman) referred me here and I thought it would be a good college.”

First impressions? “It’s really big, but really nice.”

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A MOVE-IN VETERAN

Dr. Jim Helfers, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, estimates he’s participated in 10-15 Move-In days during his 20 years at GCU.

Jim Helfers (right), a professor with the College of Arts and Sciences, lugs some luggage into Sedona Hall during Move-In on Friday.

None have run smoother than this year’s operation.

“It has gotten more and more efficient,” Helfers said. “This year, people aren’t piling up in the parking lot. We’ve really done a good job with traffic control. I’ve been watching them come in and it’s been really smooth.”

In addition to helping new students get acclimated to GCU, Helfers said Move-In “is also a pretty good workout.”

Helfers has seen his share of different move-in items that students bring to campus.

“One student had three cases of Ramen,” Helfers said. “And I’ve probably lugged up gallons and gallons of bottled water.”

Bob Romantic


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One Response
  1. Amanda

    Great blog and take it from a voice major here at GCU- tell Victoria Leith to drink more WATER WATER WATER!!!! This will help the vocal chords hydrate! :) Take care all- you guys are doing a great job!

    Aug.24.2012 at 10:27 am
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