Antelope Intros: Ron Alward and Amy Schwarz
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: IT quality engineer
Job location: 27th Avenue, Building 71
What attracted you to GCU? I was looking for an opportunity at a company that was growing and highly respected in the community. Since I am a software tester, it was important for me to work on new software that made a positive impact to the end users.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I enjoy going to the local mountain preserves for a hike or a run. My favorite is Thunderbird Park in North Glendale.
What are you passionate about? I am passionate about running although I don’t get to go as often as I would like. I run in at least one race event each month, from 5Ks to half marathons.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? My favorite event is the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Tempe, but I also enjoy the Pat Tillman 4.2-mile run as well. Both races attract thousands of runners, and the energy is highly contagious.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I got to spend a week with my son, Kevin, on his aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2011. He was an aeronautical electrician working on the Navy’s F/A-18 jets and is just coming back from his first deployment. I met him in Hawaii and spent the following week on the ship with him until docking in San Diego. I got to watch him work and was able to experience almost everything that he did during the previous six months.
What are you most proud of? My son.
Job title: Field experience specialist, College of Education
Job location: Main campus, Building 57
What attracted you to GCU? I love GCU’s campus. My dad has been on the faculty here for more than five years, and I have visited the campus numerous times. It is always fun to see the construction and new developments that seem to happen on a daily basis. While he was giving me a tour last spring, my dad and I accidentally got lost in a construction zone! The campus has such energy, and I am glad I get to be a part of it. I also love GCU’s mission and feel strongly that college is a great way to help you find your purpose.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I enjoy soaking up the Phoenix sun. I moved here from Michigan to escape the cold and clouds. I love laying by the pool, hiking, going to spring training games, attending BBQs at night and walking around the desert — and taking pictures of the landscape. Saguaro cacti are my favorite!
What are you passionate about? Traveling. I encourage everyone I meet to take advantage of any opportunities to travel. Whether it’s a chance to study abroad, take a weekend trip to California or fly across the country to see a different climate – I strongly believe that traveling can open your mind to different cultures and experiences.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? I love going to the Arizona Coyotes hockey games (Go, ‘Yotes!), and visiting the Westgate entertainment district around that area. There is a lot to do, and it’s more diverse than other places in the Valley. I also enjoy attending the Arizona State Fair and hiking the mountain trails around the Valley (my favorite is South Mountain).
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I was blessed with the unique opportunity to finish my student teaching in Australia. I spent six weeks living with an amazing host family in Darwin and then traveled to the Outback, Great Barrier Reef and Sydney. The Australian people are so welcoming and laid back. I loved interacting with the Aussie elementary students as well. The interesting blend of similarities and differences between the American and Australian cultures is what I found most interesting during my visit there.
What are you most proud of? The fact that I have followed through on my dreams. I wanted to move to Phoenix while I was living in Michigan and moved here three weeks after I graduated college. I had a dream to be a teacher, and I taught here in the Valley for five years. Then I had a desire to work at GCU and be a part of the culture here, and I have now been blessed with this opportunity to fulfill another one of my dreams. I am excited to see where this next chapter takes me!