Colangelo Scholarships to transform students’ lives
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Bureau
The looks on the faces of two high school seniors were priceless Wednesday as they learned that they are the first students chosen to receive full scholarships to attend Grand Canyon University’s Colangelo College of Business.
Both times that Dr. Randy Gibb, the CCOB dean, entered the room to make the presentation, the reaction of the stunned student — Jocelyn Arellano of Maryvale High and Dulce Carreon of Alhambra — ping-ponged from bewilderment to shock to pure joy. But their principals, who were in on the secret, were just about as emotional.
Then there was Thursday morning at the school of the third scholarship recipient, Brendan Dyer of Valley Christian in Chandler. He just happened to walk into the school office a half-hour before the meant-to-be-a-surprise ceremony, recognized Gibb, who had interviewed him as a scholarship prospect, and realized what was up. Appropriately, Dyer was headed to drama class, so when the GCU contingent came in he had no trouble feigning surprise. And his joy was in no way lessened.
The creation of the Colangelo Scholarships was announced in September when Jerry Colangelo’s name was stamped on the business college at GCU. The plan was to award scholarships to two students, one in the Phoenix Union High School District, the other in the Canyon Christian Schools Consortium (CCSC), in honor of Colangelo, the widely respected Phoenix businessman. In the past seven months Colangelo already has had a huge impact on all of CCOB after shepherding the Colangelo School of Sports Business from its start in 2011.
But Gibb said Arellano and Carreon, both from Phoenix Union, were so impressive that President/CEO Brian Mueller agreed to go double on that side of the scholarship ledger. Just like that, two lives changed.
“It means a lot for my family. I’m really surprised,” Arellano said.
Given that she plans to major in accounting, it was only appropriate that she was awarded her scholarship in math class. Asked about tackling her future field of study, she replied, “They say it’s hard, but I will get it.”
Maryvale principal Phillip Verdugo has no doubt about that. And he seemed just as thrilled as she was.
“When I first heard the news, I was so elated,” he said. “I thought, ‘Am I dreaming?’”
The second stop Wednesday morning was at Alhambra, a block from GCU, where Carreon was in the library as Gibb, followed closely by Thunder, the University mascot, walked in. Considering that it was April Fools’ Day, her first thought was one of suspicion.
“I thought, ‘What are they doing?’” she said.
Carreon was wearing a purple GCU T-shirt, something she does a lot, and now she has another one — the official CCOB shirt. She already bleeds purple, having been a frequent campus visitor to the Learning Lounge for tutoring, to GCU Arena for basketball games and to various events as a volunteer.
“Even if I hadn’t gotten the scholarship, I was determined to find a way to go there, even if we had to borrow money,” said Carreon, who plans to major in business management with an emphasis on entrepreneurship.
Alhambra principal Claudio Coria, who has made great strides to raise Alhambra’s academic profile in recent years, said of Carreon, “She’s a great example of the kind of students we have here.”
Of the scholarship, Coria said, “I think the biggest thing is the values Mr. Colangelo brings to Grand Canyon — achievement, hard work, excellence and persistence.”
The scholarship means every bit as much to Dyer as the others. His mother, Robyn, who was on hand for the announcement along with his sister Courtney, a freshman at Valley Christian, said Brendan wanted to attend GCU, “But without this, we didn’t think we’d be able to send him.”
Dyer didn’t even know about the scholarship until Michelle Cefola, his guidance counselor, learned of it and urged him to apply. “You never know,” Cefola said.
Gibb said Dyer, who plans to major in marketing, stood out among the other CCSC candidates. The teenager intends to stand out even more once he gets on campus this fall.
“It will help me dive into my faith and character and expand my knowledge of business,” Dyer said.
For Gibb, the opportunity to surprise three students from among more than 60 applicants with such a transformational ticket to higher education was a “great way to start the day.” Gibb came to GCU in July and, like Colangelo, has done a lot in a short time.
“It just shows Mr. Colangelo’s involvement with the Colangelo College of Business, and it shows our partnership with Phoenix Union and the CCSC,” Gibb said. “It’s great to reach out like this.”
Contact Rick Vacek at 602-639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.