Antelope Intros: Elvis Taska and Beth Erkkila

December 18, 2014 / by / 0 Comment
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Antelope Intros is a recurring GCU Today feature that introduces some of our new employees to the people around them in a way that is fun and informative. Employees are eligible to be featured in the month following their orientation.

Elvis Taska is an experienced triathlete and marathoner.

Elvis Taska (yes, he’s the one on the left, for you smart alecks out there) is an experienced triathlete and marathoner.

ELVIS TASKA

Job title: Enrollment counselor

Job location: Tempe

What attracted you to GCU?  I was attracted to GCU by one of my best friends, Chuck Banaszewski. He is a major role model in my life, and I know that surrounding myself with like-minded individuals will help me fulfill my goals.

What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I love to travel and go on adventures. International travel is my absolute favorite.

What are you passionate about? I am very passionate about endurance sports, especially the Ironman Triathlon. I am a five-time Ironman finisher, 10-time half Ironman finisher and 15-plus time ultra and marathon finisher. I am a licensed and certified coach and owner of JET MultiSport, a coaching group that is specific to swimming, biking and running.

What are your favorite places or events that you like to visit? Twice a year or more, I take a trip or lead a tour down to Havasupai at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It is an amazing place that is a wonder of the world.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: Most people don’t know that I love painting, photography and vintage vehicles. In high school, I had photo installations in the Scottsdale Civic Center and Art One Gallery. The subject matter and style of my photos stemmed from the vintage Volkswagens that I had built after school each day. In my late teens I went on tour, hitchhiking or driving vintage vehicles across the world and documenting my adventures, one shutter close at a time. The greatest opportunity came after I won a contest and got to practice in Prague, Czech Republic, on scholarship. After returning stateside, confined to an Arizona State University dorm for two years, I took up painting as an outlet for my creativity. I currently am building a vintage Volkswagen bus in my backyard, an escape pod for the adventure of a lifetime, camera and paints included.

What are you most proud of? My parents. They are the most incredible role models and individuals I have ever met. I hope one day to live up to half of what they are. They are both educators, and I know that by following in their footsteps I will contribute to something of lasting good and importance on this earth.

Beth Erkkila

Beth Erkkila

BETH ERKKILA

Job title: University development representative, military division

Job location: Tucson

What attracted you to GCU? The opportunity to continue working with our military families

What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I like to sing karaoke, but I find that the only appropriate outlet is my car or when I am in the presence of my dogs. Singing just reminds me that I should never take myself too seriously. I also love traveling and spending time with my family.

What are you passionate about? Helping veterans, advocating for animal rights and staying healthy by doing CrossFit, which challenges me on a daily basis.

What are your favorite places or events that you like to visit? I have just returned to Arizona after living in Europe and Asia, so I don’t have a list of my favorites yet. My husband was an active duty member of the Air Force, and we were fortunate in that we were “assigned” to live in Belgium for two years, Germany for three years and South Korea for two years. During that time we had so many interesting experiences. For example, in South Korea the guide approached us and asked if we would like a free tour of the War Memorial Museum. We were a little skeptical, but we agreed. It turned out that he was a child during the Korean War and escaped North Korea just after the war began. I learned a great deal about being a global citizen during those years abroad. We took every opportunity that we had to travel around Europe and Asia, and I hope that my children will never lose that desire to explore the world. I know that I never will. I also was also able to acquire two of my furry (dogs) babies in South Korea, Oscar and Lulu.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I can say my ABCs backward in fewer than 15 seconds (I just timed myself). Why learn how to do such a thing? Because my older brother told me that I couldn’t, so I had to prove him wrong.

What are you most proud of? My daughters and husband and the athletic accomplishments that I had never thought possible. I also consider myself fortunate to have experienced so many different cultures in my lifetime. 


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