GCU Junior Making Impression as Fiesta Bowl Queen
By Doug Carroll
Only Santa himself could have been busier this month than Fiesta Bowl Queen Lindsay Fernandez.
The GCU junior from Peoria recently wrapped up final exams for the semester, only to see her schedule hit overdrive with activities related to three bowl games and a parade.
“You have to be really organized,” said Fernandez, and fortunately she is.Truth be told, the craziness began back in early October, when Fernandez became the first woman from GCU to be chosen as queen in the competition’s 40-year history. She had decided at the last minute to enter the competition, then she made a huge impression with an essay on community service and a round of interviews.
Fiesta Bowl board member Armando Flores was knocked out.
“She was the first of 49 interviews,” said Flores, who has been with the bowl for 14 years. “She was so poised and so communicative. I know the profile of the typically successful ones, and she had all of that.”
Fernandez, 22, a graduate of Sunrise Mountain High School, transferred to GCU from Glendale Community College. She is a pre-med major in the College of Health Sciences, studying to be a cardiologist. Her parents, Mario and DaNetta Fernandez, are on the staff of the Vineyard North Phoenix church.
With six pages’ worth of scheduling and 50-plus events over four months, let’s just say the Fiesta Bowl people are keeping the new queen and her court busy. Fernandez is assisted by the other finalists, two from Arizona State University and one from the University of Arizona.
For Fernandez, it’s an opportunity to educate people about GCU.
“Everyone says, ‘They don’t have a football team,’” she said. “You have to remember I’m often talking to people for whom college football is their life.
“I get asked if I like it at GCU. I tell them the teachers are amazing, the classes are small, it’s easy to get involved and the people there want you to succeed.”
Don’t let the sparkling tiara fool you. Fernandez has been having fun as queen, but it’s not defining her. Volunteer work and academics are much more important to her.
“I’m no better than anybody else,” she said. “When I have the crown on, I’m decked out, but I know who I am. I do get to be a role model to young girls. In that sense, I have a platform and a responsibility.”
Donna Gerakos, who taught Fernandez at Sunrise Mountain and is now an instructor in athletic training at GCU, said she’s not surprised by how this turned out.
“She was an awesome student, mature beyond her years,” Gerakos said. “She knew even back then that she wanted a health-care career.”
Those goals don’t necessarily match the queen stereotype, as Fernandez has discovered when she’s out in public.
“Sometimes people look at me a little confused, as if they weren’t expecting that,” she said. “But once they hear more about me and what I do, you can see a turn in their perception.”
Fernandez is part of activities related to the Insight Bowl (Dec. 28), the Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1) and the BCS Championship Game (Jan. 10), as well as the Fiesta Bowl Parade (Dec. 31).