Antelope Intros: Cory Avila and Steve Dacosta
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.
Job title: Online full-time faculty (Environmental Science)
Job location: Peoria
What attracted you to GCU? I love that GCU is a Christian school where students and faculty can share openly about the triumphs and struggles of their faith to build each other up for His glory.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I enjoy exploring the outdoors and traveling to new places. I haven’t found that outlet yet — I am in the learning-how-to-navigate-the-city phase. I’m still constantly making U-turns and driving an extra 20 minutes in the wrong direction before I realize it. Phoenix is so big!
What are you passionate about? I am passionate about my faith and my family. They are everything to me.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? So far, I haven’t done much exploring. I want to get into hiking the various mountains around the Valley, so I am excited to get started on that.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I. Am. Batman.
What are you most proud of? The accomplishments of my former runners. I was the head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach at Eastlake High School in El Paso, Texas, for five years. The majority of them were from economically disadvantaged homes, and I have never met another group of young people so willing to work hard, encourage one another and show respect for everyone around them. They just were fun to be around. Their hard work and dedication has paid off in the form of full-ride athletic and academic scholarships to Division I schools, multisport scholarships and other opportunities. They really taught me a lot. I am so proud of them all!
Job title: Online full-time faculty (English)
Job location: Tempe
What attracted you to GCU? I wanted a career teaching for an institution that is innovative, growing and cares about its culture and students. GCU has been a perfect match.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I’m an outdoors nut. I love to go hiking, camping and hunting, and sometimes I just get lost on a back road for a few hours. I also love to travel and take road trips, and I’ve developed a fascination with exploring rural America. I’ve got 44 out of 50 states checked off, plus Puerto Rico.
What are you passionate about? I am passionate about photography. I love the challenge of capturing fleeting moments and telling a story without words. As an English instructor, my life is centered around words. It’s nice to switch that off sometimes and think in terms of light, color, lines, shadows, tones, etc. My favorite subjects are lightning and landscapes. During monsoon season, my wife gets very angry with me because I always have my camera gear in the trunk of my car, and I’m often wandering around the desert into the wee hours of the morning chasing the perfect lightning photo. I’ve had a few close calls, and I actually was hit by lightning a few years ago in Flagstaff. I was crouched down on the balls of my feet, so my shoes took the brunt of it — but I couldn’t hear for days! Here’s my page: www.flickr.com/photos/dacosta85
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? In my two years living in Phoenix, I’ve come to love going to Ak-Chin Pavilion concerts in the fall, Arizona Coyotes games and the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club or Ben Avery Shooting Facility in the winter, spring training and hiding in air-conditioned structures from May to September.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I used to be a chef, and I make the best Maryland crab cakes on earth. I love cooking the cuisine of my home state.
What are you most proud of? I finally managed to put down roots at age 30. I’ve moved 16 times in the last decade, and I finally found a home in Arizona — first in Flagstaff and now in the Valley. I found a wonderful wife (Courtney), rescued two amazing dogs and I finally have a career that I can be proud of. My grandfather said to me, “If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life.” That’s how I’ve felt since I started teaching.