GCU Frosh, and His Puppet, Start a Parade From Redmond, Ore.
By Bob Romantic
GCU News Bureau
There’s a revolution of sorts going on in Redmond, Ore.
It started with Grand Canyon University freshman Isaac Bryant, picked up steam with a few of his classmates at tiny Central Christian High School and will live on through the antics and outreach of – of all things – a puppet.
Some explanations are in order.
Bryant moved into Hegel Hall on GCU’s campus Friday morning — one of 1,300 new students who descended on the University during the second day of Move-In. He is part of a record freshman class of 3,000 and one of 4,000 new students at GCU this year.
Living on a campus 1,500 miles from home was not the original plan for the 18-year-old Bryant. He had planned to attend Biola University in La Mirada, Calif., where one of his Central Christian classmates had decided to enroll.
One visit to GCU changed Bryant’s mind, and that of several of his friends.
“In January, we decided to make the trip to GCU and check out the campus and see what it was all about,” said Bryant, who is majoring in biblical studies with an emphasis in youth ministry. “I met the assistant dean of theology, Anna Faith Smith, and we got to talking about the school and their mission and what they do through community outreach. I was on the ministry team in high school and wanted to continue community ministry.”
Those community outreach efforts, the family atmosphere on campus and the affordability of a private Christian education at GCU convinced Bryant that this was the place for him.
“Isaac felt like part of the family here, so it made it easier for me to say, ‘Let’s go,’” said Malane Bryant, Isaac’s mother. “We love the fact that GCU does things totally different than a normal Christian university. … And you could tell right away. The way they gave us a tour was different, the affordability was different and the dorm rooms were huge compared to some of the colleges we’ve seen. People on campus were very friendly and would stop and talk to my son on campus.
“And the fact that he won’t be $80,000 in debt by the time he’s done with college also helps. … Christian education is overpriced and you’ve got to keep it down. The fact you guys strive for that means a lot.”
Isaac Bryant was so convinced that GCU was the right place for him that he told his classmate, Calen Fitzsimmons (who had planned to attend Biola) about the University. Fitzsimmons, a film major, is now Bryant’s roommate at GCU.
Another Central Christian classmate, Danielle Cheney, followed Bryant to GCU. And fellow Central Christian grads Josiah McRae and Jeremiah Byrne also enrolled at GCU.
That means of Central Christian’s 2013 graduating class of 13 seniors, three are now GCU students, with two more from the Class of 2012.
“I started a revolution, if you will,” Bryant said.
Bryant’s affinity for Grand Canyon didn’t stop there. In high school, he was involved in dramas and puppeteering and other forms of creative ministry. When he decided to attend GCU, he asked if it would be OK to create a puppet of the Thunder mascot.
“We sent a photo of Thunder to a puppet maker and he did a really good job,” Bryant said. “I knew that GCU gets together with kids every Saturday in the (Little Canyon) park, and I like doing puppets, so I thought it would be neat to minister to kids that way.”
Malane Bryant said it’s a perfect fit for her son.
“Even though the school is not in the nicest part of Phoenix, that will change over time,” she said. “And my son will get to be part of that change.”
Contact Bob Romantic at 639.7611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.