Redemption Road Leads to GCU Construction Site for Campus ‘Ambassador’

August 02, 2012 / by / 9 Comments

Story by Michael Ferraresi
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Bureau

The tank-like trucks hauling brick and sand around GCU’s new parking garage kick dust into Jeffrey Scott’s face as he sits patiently in the limited shade of his patio-like umbrella.

It’s a sweaty, dirty nook of campus under the searing summer heat. Yet the man in the blue hardhat and wraparound shades refers to his job as a construction traffic controller as his “getaway.”

Construction traffic controller Jeffrey Scott has emerged as GCU's unofficial ambassador with his morning greetings for employees.

GCU employees have grown used to hearing Scott’s greetings as they walk from their cars to their desks each morning. Groups of women smile at “how y’all doing?” University executives are reminded to have a nice day. Others get a playful fist-bump.

“I figured you can’t be quiet when you have people walking by all the time, I’m just not that kind of person,” said Scott, known for the worn-out sign – SLOW on one side, STOP on the other – he hoists to keep vehicles flowing near his construction site entrance.

“You have to believe something good is going to happen to you when you do something positive,” he said.

The sign in Scott’s hand appears to describe actions that may have saved his life. The 39-year-old laborer, who was hired to work at GCU by a subcontractor of Pono Construction, said his job in the parking lot at the southwestern corner of campus is a key reason why he has maintained his recovery from substance abuse.

Scott checked himself into a halfway house in December without any order from his probation officer or any authority figure. He forced himself to clean up, tired of being “burned” by his addictions. He slowed his roll. He stopped using.

Scott was raised and lived most of his life in a crime-challenged neighborhood in south Phoenix. He lived in the midst of the drugs and gang violence that plagued his community for years. His mother died when he was 12, leaving him to be raised by his grandparents.

After coping with his demons through meetings and relapse interventions, he expected to get one day’s work through his employer, Industrial Personnel. Instead, he landed at GCU for more than three months – sitting each morning in a place where finding your purpose is far from cliché.

“Being a day laborer and having it for three months, I see it as an opportunity,” Scott said. “I come here and forget about all that (personal) stuff and let my day go by.”

Three months’ work. For some, it would be too little to cover a car payment or purchase the next vacation package. But Scott has been able to pay his debts and save a little money, taking his check home each day on the bus to his home in north Phoenix.

The recovery house run by Transitional Living Communities, an organization with six residential facilities in Arizona, offers everything from guided meditation to 12-step meetings to wean residents off drugs and alcohol.

Gilbert Falquez, house manager for TLC’s Sunnyslope House, said Scott has shown a deep motivation to finding work and working the recovery program.

“He’s willing to change and do it better than the day before,” said Falquez, who also went through a TLC program on his own road to recovery.

Scott mans the construction entrance at the southwestern corner of campus, which leads to the new Camelback Road parking garage.

“He’s been through the worst … he’s been accomplishing a lot,” Falquez said. “He wakes up at 2 every morning to go to work. I don’t know how he does it.”

Without knowing his full story, GCU employees have gravitated to Scott and look forward to his morning pleasantries.

GCU employee Jessica Ertell said she has seen Scott waving at a pregnant employee to make sure she could get into a prime parking spot.

“Even if he’s talking to someone else, he still pauses his conversation to say hi to you,” said Ertell, who works in GCU’s Event Services. “It’s just a great way to start your day.”

Contact Michael Ferraresi at 639.7030 or michael.ferraresi@gcu.edu.


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9 Responses
  1. Barbara Ellert

    What a great story! I have said hi each morning and he just smiles and is great! Thank you for sharing this, it’s really nice to know the “behind the man” story for this wonderful individual!

    Aug.02.2012 at 11:49 am
  2. Martin Braatelien

    As a denizen of Annex 2, I have the privilege of seeing Jeff on regular basis. He is indeed a blessing to our campus. He is always cheerful and enouraging.

    Thank you GCU Today for telling part of his story.

    Aug.02.2012 at 12:04 pm
  3. Grace Villaverde

    I have seen Jeff everymorning on my way to my office and every morning he makes it a point to say Hi and to have a great day! Nice to know a little about him.

    Aug.02.2012 at 12:17 pm
  4. Carrie O'Donnell

    I loved reading this article because it is awesome to hear and see someone making positive choices, thus having a positive influence on others!

    Aug.02.2012 at 12:18 pm
  5. Bryan Ginter

    May God bestow many blessing upon Jeffery as he travels on the road of continuous recovery. May he experience future successes on his life’s journey.

    Aug.02.2012 at 12:48 pm
  6. Richard Conaway

    Thank you, GCU Today for the story on Jeffrey Scott. I see him every morning and always count down to Friday with him. I hope GCU’s community has inspired him. Who’s going to sign up for classes? :-)

    Aug.02.2012 at 1:34 pm
  7. Karen Tupper

    Jeffrey is awesome! Such a pleasant and friendly face to see in the morning. He greets me every single day. Thanks for sharing his story. God bless you, Jeffrey Scott!

    Aug.02.2012 at 1:37 pm
  8. Zack Kocher

    Wonderfully written article and photography! I see this gentleman everytime I walk past the construction to my office. His morning greetings are a great reminder of the importance of taking time to greet our fellow man/woman. Thank you!

    Aug.02.2012 at 1:44 pm
  9. Laura Cronogue

    What a great story! Thanks for sharing and showing how positive changes can happen! Jeff is a great guy and really does brighten your day with his greetings. When it’s over 100 degrees every day Jeff still manages to have the right idea and make the best choices for himself. What an inspiration for the rest of us.

    Aug.03.2012 at 8:15 am
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