Antelope Intros: Michael Talarico and Preslee Swern
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: Qualifying specialist, College of Theology
Job location: Peoria
What attracted you to GCU? I came from another college that was on the decline. GCU is booming and growing while others school struggle to stay afloat, and I wanted to be part of something on the rise.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I do a lot of Olympic weightlifting and enjoy hiking and traveling (I’m going to Jamaica in December for the first time and for almost an entire week). I also like going to concerts and shows that come to town. I’ve taken a few cruises down to Mexico and have gone to Las Vegas (at least a hundred times), Oregon, California and just recently Chicago. Other than that, I venture around Arizona and hike in Payson, Sedona and Flagstaff, where it’s not a million degrees in the shade during the summer.
What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about fitness and working out. I love empowering prospective students and helping them achieve their goals through education. Growing in my own career also is very important to me.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? I spend most of my money on concerts and shows. I’ve seen everybody from Bob Dylan and Ray Charles to Britney Spears and Garth Brooks, from Rob Zombie and Lil Wayne to Electric Daisy Carnival and Coachella. Other than EDC in its entirety, I’d probably say performer-wise my favorite show was Sia this year at Coachella. I wasn’t an overall fan of Coachella and didn’t really know any Sia songs and didn’t want to see her, but the majority of the group did so I stuck with them and it was incredible. It was a live, choreographed dance routine to her songs she was singing. If you’ve seen her music videos, it was exactly like that, but all done live on stage. I’m lucky to have seen some great musicians that are no longer with us, so they will always be special to me. I have an eclectic taste in music and have been going to shows since a very young age. I like to experience my favorites and explore new music, too.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I can back squat 400 pounds. I’ve been working out since high school but didn’t really get into the entire CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting scene until about 3-4 years ago. It’s a grueling process day in and day out to go to the gym after work and destroy yourself mentally and physically for two-plus hours, especially when you’re still sore from the previous day’s lift. I don’t remember how long it took me to get to 400, but it took quite awhile. I just pushed myself day in and day out through several programs of 6-12 weeks.
What are you most proud of? Completing my master’s and knowing that I am the starting point to students changing their lives. I want students to know that even in a busy life, school is possibly especially with online programs. And if they are worried about cost, I want them to know we have grants and scholarships and we can get the information on it to make their education affordable and possible. It’s nice knowing that I am the first person to give them a great representation of what GCU is and has to offer. I plan to attend GCU for another master’s — or possibly a doctorate just so people will have to call me Dr. Talarico.
PRESLEE MARINA SWERN
Job title: Field experience specialist, College of Nursing and Health Care Professions
Job location: Peoria
What attracted you to GCU? The antelope is pretty good looking! (Kidding!) I think GCU offers a very cohesive atmosphere, and when I walked in for my first interview I saw so many different walks of life working together for one common goal: the student’s success. Right then, I knew I had to be a part of the team.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I find my outlet on the beach. I am typically that girl who everyone laughs at while she’s taking selfies on the beach. There is seriously something magical about the sea that pretty much takes me to a whole different world.
What are you passionate about? Number one, definitely my boyfriend’s beard growth progress. It’s about 5 in. long, and growing through the routine use of biotin and high potency beard shampoo, conditioner and oil! Number two, I am pretty passionate about patient care. I think that every health care provider (clinical and administrative) should always have a patient-centered mindset to be successful. Throughout my career, I always remembered one thing a GCU professor told me: “Hurt people hurt people.” In other words, we don’t always get to see patients at their best! Typically we see them at their worst, so their attitudes are not always the best. With that mindset, I have gotten through some pretty rough situations with patients.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? I was born and raised in Arizona, attended and now work at Grand Canyon University, and I have NEVER visited the Grand Canyon. But I like to visit the zoos and animal sanctuaries around the Valley that are home to otters. I am embarrassed to admit, but I start hysterically crying without any control if I am in close vicinity to an otter.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I don’t know how to swim, I am deathly allergic to mushrooms, and I am pictured in an Elvis book for being named after Elvis Presley.
What are you most proud of? I am definitely most proud of successfully adulting thus far. I am far more adultier than I thought I ever had the potential to be! Growing up as an only child, I relied a lot on my mother — which was great because she is an amazing woman. But it was really tough for me to be alone. So moving out, maintaining a vehicle, paying bills, having a home and having a successful relationship is definitely something to be proud of.