Hot job for summer: leading campus tours
By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the golf cart.
That’s not exactly what Harry Truman said so many years ago, but it could be a slogan for summertime tours of the Grand Canyon University campus led by the student staff of Shannon Landers, the University’s director of campus visitation and its Antelope Reception Center.
On some sweltering days, there’s not much happening on campus other than the tours, which involve 10 guides and five junior enrollment counselors working out of the ARC’s temporary home adjacent to the Starbucks in the Student Union. The hardy crew handles about 30 appointments daily, and the ability to smile while melting isn’t required (but it does go a long way).
“We hear about the hot weather all the time,” says upcoming senior Jessica Ament, a counseling major from Gilbert. “I tell the parents that our students are gone from the end of April through most of August, so they miss most of it.”
With visitors coming from as far as Hawai’i and Maine, a quick primer on Arizona can be helpful. But the guides, who are required to have sophomore standing with at least a year of on-campus residence, have much more information at the ready. They’ll typically cover class size, campus safety, spiritual life, housing and activities, among other areas of interest.
Yes, they sometimes are thrown a curveball.
“You might get a question on how to break the rules,” Ament says, smiling, “and I’ll say, ‘I’m a Life Leader and I can’t do that.'”
Landers, who has been with the University for nearly seven years, built the group from scratch three years ago with the opening of the Arena. She has visited the campuses of Gonzaga University, San Diego State University, the University of San Diego, Azusa Pacific University and Biola University to observe other hospitality operations.
During the school year, there’s enough work to keep about 25 student workers busy. But even in June, a relatively quiet month, more than 700 prospective students (and 2,100 total guests) visited campus.
“It’s a challenge to keep abreast of all the changes (at GCU),” Landers says. “The guides are tasked with answering any questions people would have. Most of them are Life Leaders or Servant Scholars, so they’re very involved in the campus. And they have varied backgrounds and majors.”
Ament says parents might ask more questions than prospective students simply because they know the right questions to ask. Upon learning what a student plans to study, a guide will tailor a tour accordingly, visiting labs or classrooms that might become part of the student’s academic routine.
Tours, which usually last 45 minutes, need to be reserved online at www.gcu.edu at least three days in advance. The team follows up with email and phone reminders before the visit, and an admissions representative follows up afterward.
“I never leave my job unhappy,” says Edith Torivio, a junior nursing major from Phoenix. “We try to give it our all. It’s usually someone’s first time at GCU, and you need to give them a sense of what GCU is all about.”
Says Ament, who is known to crack jokes to keep the mood breezy: “I try to show them what a blessing GCU has been in my life — and what it can be for them.”
Summer hours for the ARC, on the second floor of the Union, are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Tours are conducted on the hour from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Contact Doug Carroll at 602.639.8011 or [email protected].