Antelope Intros: Jordan Hoyt and Jeff Ball
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: Enrollment counselor
Job location: Peoria
What attracted you to GCU? After I moved to the Valley a few months ago, a new friend who is a military enrollment counselor at GCU told me about the position here. I didn’t know anything about the University other than it being located on Camelback Road. So like any curious millennial would do, I got on the GCU website and read up. I found out about Grand Canyon’s dedication to returning students and its booming ground campus. I had no idea it had an NCAA Division I athletics program. By the time I interviewed, I had a solid understanding of the University’s goals. Now I’m excited to apply my passions and talents to helping students change their lives.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I’ve enjoyed competitive fencing for more than 14 years. I was trained by a nationally rated foil instructor and a former Olympian in épée. By the time I attended Wayne State University as a freshman, I was ready to walk on to its Division I fencing team. That year I competed, I finished 13th in the Midwest. After the college season was over, I walked into a few other competitions representing my old club in Kalamazoo, Mich., the Salleamazoo Fencing Club, and earned sixth in mixed épée at a tri-state competition. Fencing has always been a big part of my life, not only for its competitive nature but also because it focuses on the connection of the mind and body and how it translates to the world around it – I promise, I’ve heard all of the fencing jokes. Fencing also has taught me a lot about training and leadership. Other things I enjoy are working on and riding vintage cafe motorcycles, playing bass guitar or piano, and helping introduce and retrain retired racing greyhounds to life after the track.
What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about helping others and giving those that might be less fortunate an advantage to get them ahead. Out of all of the different ways I’ve tried to help others around me that may be less fortunate, the most memorable would be a mission trip to Romania when I was in high school. I had the opportunity to leave my comfort zone and travel to a small village in central Romania. There, I had the opportunity to touch the lives of people who are broken and hurting in ways I couldn’t imagine. Along with helping fix up homes and participating in other construction projects to help the community, we were able to share the gospel with kids who only knew pain and loss. That memory will always drive me to love more deeply and share more selflessly. I also love leadership – learning about it, teaching about it, and carrying it out. When I was young, my parents always told me that I was a natural leader. Now that I’m a bit older, I can see what they were talking about and why they encouraged it. Leaders are important in all stages of life and are needed to help others grow to their full potential. I don’t believe that all leaders are born, though. I think some leaders are made, and to make a good leader you need to teach good leadership. Teaching leadership starts at a young age, and that’s why I think it’s very important that GCU has taken on the responsibility of bringing a good leadership example into the surrounding schools in the Camelback neighborhood.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? I love a good hot dog, so you might find me at a number of different hot dog joints around the Valley. Two of the best I’ve been to are Short Leash Hot Dogs in Phoenix and Ted’s Hot Dogs in Tempe. I’ve also heard that Portillo’s has a fantastic Chicago dog, but I have yet to try it. I also love hiking with my fiancee, Alexa Kessler, at Camelback Mountain. We’ve been in the Valley for about seven months and love hiking all the different mountains as well as taking our greyhound, Potato, to different greyhound events. We love going to Tempe and enjoying the diverse culture there and enjoyed bull riding at Buffalo Chip Saloon in Cave Creek before the fire there. Other places we enjoy visiting include Sedona, Flagstaff, Camp Verde and Payson.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I graduated from high school when I was 16. When I was in elementary school, my parents decided that I would have better academic opportunities if I was home schooled. Though Mom and Dad received much family criticism about their decision, sure enough, when I was 15, I started the enrollment process for community college and was taking my first college classes after turning the ripe old age of 16. By attending community college early, I was able to finish a large amount of my undergrad general education courses for an affordable price and still was able to transfer to a university and get the 18-year-old “freshmen experience,” though it mostly consisted of napping, eating chicken fingers and going to fencing practice.
What are you most proud of? I’m the first person in my family to graduate from college, and I’m also the first to move away from my hometown to explore the world. I grew up in Kalamazoo, Mich., and I made my rounds, living in Detroit during school, Chicago and then West Virginia after graduating. In West Virginia, I met Alexa while working for the same company. She was in her last year at Ohio University, and after she graduated she was recruited by a company in downtown Phoenix. She pitched me the idea of moving to Phoenix, and I thought, “No snow, I’m in.” Our introduction to the Phoenix summer came on June 22, 2015, when the high temperature was 108 degrees. Boy, was it warm.
Job title: Enrollment counselor
Job location: Peoria
What attracted you to GCU? The school’s reputation, professionalism and the opportunity to work with people who share my faith. I graduated from Houghton College, a Christian university in southwestern New York, in 2003, and I have missed the sense of camaraderie and faith that I found at that college. I like the fact that it exists here.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? Ride motorcycles, hunt and camp. I don’t own a motorcycle anymore, but from time to time I do borrow a friend’s Ninja 250 and ride it short distances. I used to own a 2009 candy apple red Kawasaki Ninja 650r. For the short time I had it — almost two years — that thing was my baby. I bought it with less than 2,000 miles on it and rode it for an additional 17,000 miles. I used to enjoy riding up to Yarnell; I’d take what some motorcyclists would call the “back route” — the 303 to Route 60, to Route 93, to Route 89. The best part of that entire ride was when I would kick the thing into fifth or sixth gear and hear nothing but the sound of the wind and let the stress from work melt away. For the time being, I drive a pickup truck. I’d like to drop a turbo-charged, big-block 454 engine into it.
What are you passionate about? I was born and raised in the Buffalo, N.Y., area and have always been a Sabres hockey fan, not because they are my home team, but because they are one of the hardest, if not the hardest working, team in professional hockey. I evolved from being a “run of the mill” fan to being much more of a “hard core” fan in the 1990s when players such as Pat LaFontaine, Rob Ray, Miroslav Šatan and Dominik “The Dominator” Hašek were on the team. I loved attending games at the War Memorial Auditorium and watching the “Sabes” make it to the Stanley Cup final. I also am passionate about the Denver Broncos and education. I used to be a teacher. I started my teaching career in 2003, when I taught at the Maranatha Adventist Bilingual School in Comayagua, Honduras. I loved the laid-back attitude of the town, its history and the relatively short bus ride to the Maya Site of Copán. Aside from this, the students at my school seemed to really want to learn English, cared about their teachers and enjoyed learning about other cultures. Their thirst for knowledge was what kept me going.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? Anyplace quiet. I’m not exactly a party animal. Lately, I’ve enjoyed hiking at both South Mountain Park and at the Desert Foothills Trailhead near my house. In the summertime, I try to go hiking early enough to catch the sunrise.
What are you most proud of? The fact that I graduated from college. I’m a first-generation college grad, and I was given the opportunity to pursue a commission as a second lieutenant with the U.S. Army. I’m also proud that I lived and taught for three years in Honduras and South Korea. I taught in South Korea for 2½ years, and while I thoroughly enjoyed some of the older cultural elements, one thing I will never, ever, ever miss is the food.