Antelope Intros: Michael Miller, Dr. Priscilla Bamba, Billy Thrall, Brit Miller
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: Web analytics and optimization manager
Job location: 27th Avenue
What attracted you to GCU? I recently moved to Phoenix from Chicago(ish) and was looking to stay in an educational environment. (I previously had worked at Northwestern University, an early childhood education advocacy group and Chicago-Kent College of Law.) Between the overall reputation of GCU and the technology that runs the school’s website, I had to take a shot.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I work out a few times a week, though I’m not sure multiple sets of pushups qualifies as “fun.” I enjoy reading, but again “fun” probably isn’t the right adjective. I think water parks are fun, so let’s go with that.
What are you passionate about? The Chicago Blackhawks, autism awareness and the search for the ultimate hot wing (although not necessarily in that order).
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? Most of my time has been spent house hunting, so I’m still feeling my way around. I want to start hitting the sports venues soon. Oh, and the water parks …
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I made for one heck of a Blue Man when I dressed up and ran the Warrior Dash in Illinois a couple of years ago. I’ve also hoisted the Stanley Cup.
What are you most proud of? No question about this one: my 6-year old twin boys.
DR. PRISCILLA BAMBA
Job title: Online faculty, English Department
Job location: Tempe
What attracted you to GCU? I found the strongly Christian element at GCU very refreshing! Additionally, the online element of teaching attracted me. While I have 31 years of teaching experience, I have taught face-to-face, hybrid and online for the last 14 years. I also helped write the online/hybrid curriculum for Northern Virginia Community College, the second-largest community college system in the U.S.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? For fun, I like to swim, read, and explore what Tempe has to offer in the way of restaurants, movies, etc.
What are you passionate about? I am passionate about facilitating classes online for my students and helping them succeed. Additionally, of course, I am passionate about my new husband, Vafing Bamba, who is from the Ivory Coast; we will have been married for two years on July 14.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? I am open to suggestions since I have lived here less than a month. I know I want to get involved in some of the community outreach and charitable events.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: Most people don’t know that I was in a band when I was in my 20s and that we won multiple awards for our playing and singing at Old Time Fiddlers competitions back in Kentucky.
What are you most proud of? I am most proud of my children (Ron, 38, and Lee, 34), my husband and the journey I am still on in life. I grew up in a very economically depressed area of Kentucky and always depended upon academics and a creative imagination – one of my best friends as a child was a broom named Bessie, which I rode over and around the ring of seven hills that surrounded the home I shared with my parents and six siblings in Casey County, Ky. I wrote about those times later in poetry and in a novel I wrote for my graduate thesis. By age 39, I had been divorced for almost 20 years, my children were grown and out of my house, and I had completed my bachelor’s degree. I jumped at the chance to move overseas and teach at universities in South Korea. I traveled to many countries and enjoyed new experiences and cultures before returning to the U.S. to settle in the Virginia region, where I lived and taught until I joined GCU just about a month ago. I am a lifelong learner and open to learning from my students every day.
Name: Billy Thrall
Job title: Director of church relations
Job location: Main campus
What attracted you to GCU? The seemingly limitless potential for Gospel expressions here in Phoenix and worldwide.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I love spending time with my family. I also enjoy hiking, biking, flyfishing, being outdoors, good coffee and conversations.
What are you passionate about? Jesus Christ has rescued my life – I am passionate about embracing His grace in a way that others know Him as well.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? I am a Phoenix native – I love our mountains, the desert, great Mexican food, feeling like we live in a small town in a big city and visiting the amazing people God has put here, witnessing the great things they are doing for Him. I pray that Phoenix becomes famous for Jesus.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I met my amazing wife on a summer mission trip in France.
What are you most proud of? Keeping her married to me for 27 years!
Job title: Enrollment counselor
Job location: Tempe
What attracted you to GCU? I wanted to get back into helping people reach their educational goals, and I liked the Christian values GCU offers.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I have a room of Legos similar to the one in the Lego movie. Building and rearranging is my outlet.
What are you passionate about? My family and movies.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? Comicon is always fun and strange. Pro sports and spring training are lots of fun, too. I am a foodie, so good eats are a must.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I do not eat fish, but I get a lot of enjoyment from fishing.
What are you most proud of? My two daughters, Zoey and Maggie May.