Symposium shows Honors College achievements

April 11, 2016 / by / 0 Comment

By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau

The Grand Canyon University Symposium Showcase, hosted by the Honors College, returned Saturday to feature research projects related to service, ethics, research and leadership.

The objective of the symposium, which began in February, was to improve student learning through team collaboration and real-world application during a zero-credit, 10-week program. This year, nearly 70 students in the Honors College presented their ideas to a panel that included Jacqueline Smith, director of career services; Dave Smith, director of academic excellence for the College of Education; Zach Mikutowicz, program director for the Honors College; and Breanna Naegeli, Honors College Program manager. Dr. Antoinette Farmer, vice president of institutional effectiveness, also was in attendance.

In her opening remarks, Naegeli said, “I really want to stress that being here today is no small feat. You guys have done this on your own — you’ve worked hard, you’ve put in hours, you’ve put in the endless, sleepless hours to make this experience what it is.”

Winners of the symposium will be announced Saturday at the Honors Banquet. The first-place prize is $3,000 per team member. Second place is worth $2,000 per team member, third place $1,000 per member.


The “Making a Difference One Life at a Time” team shares its experience volunteering with a local special needs program.

Here is a summary of what was presented in the 90-minute symposium at the Student Union.

• Feeding Hungry Hearts: Freshmen explored feeding people in poverty not only physically, but also spiritually and emotionally. The group served the Sierra Vista mobile home community, a highly impoverished area in Phoenix where residents expressed the need for a local park and a place for children to engage in social activities. Students put together a social event to engage children in play, teamwork and arts and crafts.

“It was amazing to see their eyes light up as they saw the obstacle course we brought in,” Brian Kennedy said. “We spent a good portion of three hours playing soccer with them and getting our butts kicked — and not for lack of trying, either.”

Feeding Hungry Hearts proposed creating a weekly service center that offers snacks, games and tutoring for the children and volunteer opportunities for GCU students.

•Perseverance and Cowardice — Strength in a Society of Dependency: Freshmen pushed for a need to shift the social mindset to God to create a virtuous society and cultivate a sense of perseverance.

• Higher Education in the Workplace: Seniors analyzed the relevance of higher education in the workforce, hypothesizing that the higher the degree, the higher the relevance. With research data collected, students were unable to accept their hypothesis but expressed pride in their team effort. 


Esther Kelley explains the qualities of a true leader.

Alena Gladwin made light of their research findings by reminding audience members that even if their degrees also do not end up not being relevant to their future job, they should remember that they are “working for the Lord.”

• Continence and Incontinence: Freshmen compared the vice and virtues — continence versus incontinence — that can be seen in films, including “Batman,” “Deadpool,” “The Great Gatsby” and “Mulan,” to explore how society should act upon faith rather than political correctness to become better.

“As Christians, I think we need to separate our political beliefs from our religious ones here,” Brian White said. “Ephesians 4:29 says, ‘Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.’”

• Winston Churchill: Juniors selected Winston Churchill to demonstrate three styles of leadership — servant, transformational and ethical.

• Knowledge Verse Ignorance: Freshmen examined how ignorance detracts from human happiness as it creates a false view from life and how knowledge can be cultivated by taking part in self-benefiting activities and gaining skills in different areas, languages and cultures.

• Making a Difference One Life at a Time: Sophomores volunteered at the Arizona Recreation Center for the Handicapped in an after-school special needs children’s program and gave the children an afternoon filled with fun activities, including decorating cupcakes, an Easter egg hunt, a science experiment and a game of soccer.

“Many people think of special needs students as different, but in reality they are some of the most caring and loving individuals,” Meagan Craney said. “We went to serve them but in return got served by them — they drew us pictures and loved on us.”

• Humility Verse Pride: Freshmen explored causes and effects of unfulfillment in a world full of vanity and psychological distractions, including social media and trends.

• Matched by the Maker: Sophomores aimed to change the meaning of entrepreneurship by reaching the local community and giving the homeless a second chance by hiring them to work at a student-run Italian restaurant.

“It’s an ambitious solution, but the current homeless situation isn’t working and we hope that our idea can impact their quality of life,” said Cierra Sloate.

• Murder Verse Charity: Freshmen pinpointed that there are two choices in life — fostering it or ending it all together.

• A Culture through the Gift of Knowledge: Freshmen wrapped up the evening with a dialogue about how technology and other cultural trends seem to be taking over culture, happiness, education and how society continues to contribute to the issue by giving it more time and attention that it deserves.

Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or

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