Online Students ‘Friend’ GCU for Campus Connections

May 17, 2011 / by / 16 Comments

By Zane Ewton
Communications Staff

Online learning is a unique experience. Online students do not have the chance to hang out in the hallway before class. They do not get lunch in the cafeteria. They do not get to play volleyball on the sand courts by the pool.

A group of online students wanted a deeper connection with Grand Canyon University despite never setting foot on its campus.

How have they done it?

Facebook, of course.

Elementary education major Ruth DuVan is a standard online student. Her life wasn’t going in the direction she wanted, so she returned to school to find a new purpose. During her prerequisite courses, she made friends with students from various programs of study and they connected on Facebook, as they probably would not meet up in the same classes later.

“Interacting with other students on the GCU Facebook and Twitter pages helps me feel not so alone in this journey through school,” DuVan says. “These people encourage me, whether they know it or not, to keep doing what I am doing.”

Johnathan Clayborn of El Mirage, Ariz., enrolled at GCU knowing that work and family would make it difficult to attend classes on campus. The secondary education major already has applied for a master’s program at GCU and intends on following that up with dual doctorates in psychology and education.

Clayborn appreciates that social media allow him to stay connected with the school, keeping up on news and events on campus. He feels that he’s part of something bigger.

“It also allows me to develop a network of my collegiate peers,” he says. “I ‘friend’ some people from the school who are pursuing similar degrees, others because they’re fun to talk to, and most importantly because a strong support network is a key component of success. The more ’Lopes you know, the more resources you have.”

Donn Gallon, a master’s student in education, is an Air Force veteran who served in Desert Storm. Gallon always wanted to be a teacher, but he went to work for the Transportation Security Administration after 9-11. He left there last November and enrolled at GCU.

Searching for information about the University online, he stumbled across the GCU Facebook pages and knew he has found a worthwhile resource.

“I feel the Facebook pages are a natural extension of the University, especially for the online students,” Gallon says. “We get the news about GCU in real time and we can share our successes and frustrations there with other GCU students and staff.”

Gallon feels as if he has taken on a role on Facebook as a volunteer student adviser and cheerleader. He typically has ANGEL open in one window and Facebook in another.

Carolyn Leff already had two feet in social media before she enrolled at GCU. She owns her own social media company called LuvYourSocialMedia and works primarily with political candidates on their social media campaigns. Friends dubbed her the “Facebook Queen” for her use of social media tools to recruit and maintain campaign volunteers.

Leff wanted to return to school but had yet to find a program that sparked her interests, namely policy and politics. That was until she saw the MPA in government and policy program at GCU.

“This is what GCU is all about — finding your purpose,” she says. “My purpose is to do what I love and get paid for it. I love social media and I love politics. I found my love in cyberspace in social media. Social media will only get more powerful as time goes on.

“I want to be active on campus. An online student like me can feel part of the GCU community by interacting on Facebook.”

Check out the main GCU Facebook page at

Contact Zane Ewton at 639.7086 or

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16 Responses
  1. JJ

    Ruth Duvan Rocks! Way to go Ruth. Students like you make GCU special. Thanks for being so involved!

    May.17.2011 at 9:34 am
  2. Ruth DuVan

    Thanks JJ!!!

    May.17.2011 at 10:11 am
  3. Robert Gillis

    Ruth way to go. I am a DBA online student. and it is very important for others that do not live in the Phoenix area to feel and stay part of the herd. Thank you for your efforts.

    GO LOPES!!!!

    Thank you for your work.
    Robert Gillis

    May.17.2011 at 10:29 am
  4. Ruth DuVan

    Thanks Robert. You’re right, it is important for those outside of Phoenix to stay involved in the Herd, and I just made 3 more friends out there to help keep me reaching for my goals.

    May.17.2011 at 11:07 am
  5. SK

    Thanks for all of your support! Without students like the four of you GCU Social Media may not have blossomed as it has!


    May.17.2011 at 12:29 pm
  6. SK

    p.s. Way to go Ruth :)

    May.17.2011 at 12:30 pm
  7. Ruth DuVan

    Thanks SK!! You’re right, it probably would be boring for you guys if it wasn’t for us making your day interesting.

    May.17.2011 at 1:11 pm
  8. JC

    Ruth is the best, Keep up the great work and keep using your resources. She is what I like to call a social genius.

    May.17.2011 at 1:59 pm
  9. Don Fraser

    make sure and become a fan of the alumni facebook page as well! We try to keep everyone informed of happenings on campus, including tailgating before the games! Come join us!


    May.17.2011 at 2:18 pm
  10. Ruth DuVan

    You know, I have to give props to Carolyn, Donn and Johnathan. We all ROCK!!

    May.17.2011 at 3:18 pm
  11. Johnathan Clayborn

    Every ‘Lope Rocks! :)

    May.18.2011 at 10:16 pm
  12. Ruth DuVan

    Especially the FB4!!!

    May.19.2011 at 8:32 am
  13. Amie Waldemer

    Way to go GCU! ATTN Doctorate Students —There is a thread on the GCU facebook page for Online Doctoral Students – All concentrations. Please check it out and help us all stay connected to each other!

    May.19.2011 at 4:55 pm
  14. Margaret Burgess


    What a wonderful idea. I can hardly wait to get in touch with other students.


    May.22.2011 at 11:48 am
  15. Ruth DuVan

    Thanks Margaret!! Go ahead, if you on Facebook, and friend me!

    May.23.2011 at 7:44 am
  16. Maryann

    Ever since I joined GCU’s social media group on Facebook I haven’t felt so alone into academic journey. Ruth DuVan and others like her have made the online education experience more interesting and engaging. I know there will always be someone on there to help me and give me practical advice. Thank you all for the encouragement and support. I’ll hopefully get to meet some of you at graduation. You all are such a great blessing!

    Dec.01.2013 at 6:47 am
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