Antelope Intros: Jessica Walls, Megan Oden and Brianna Samson
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: Marketing client services manager
Job location: 27th Avenue
What attracted you to GCU? I heard Brian Mueller speak at the West Valley Economic Development Summit in May and was completely inspired by the vision of GCU and the impact that this organization has had on the West Valley. I grew up in this area and attended Alhambra High School my freshman year, and to see what GCU has done for the schools in this area is absolutely amazing!
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? My absolute favorite thing to do is spend time with my husband, Brian, and our two little kids, Kaelyn, 6, and Jameson, 3. I love traveling with the kids, doing anything outdoors, seeing movies and trying new restaurants. I love to cook and collect vintage kitchen items. I have a booth at the Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Goodyear and an Instagram page called TheVintageKitschen where I buy/trade/sell vintage kitchen items.
What are you passionate about? My faith and my family.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? That’s a hard one. I am an AZ native, so there are a lot. When the weather is nice, I like to go hiking and take the kids to the park, but in the summer months, we love to go up north and visit family in Prescott and Flagstaff. I love all the vintage and farmers markets around town. Downtown Glendale area is cool, and I also love any local homegrown dining and anyplace that offers fun activities for the kids.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I love music. I played quite a few different instruments for 12 years when I was growing up and my mom was in a reggae band, so we often would attend different reggae and music festivals around the Valley. I have some of the best memories growing up and dancing with my brother and sister while my mom played the keyboard. I really hope to get back into playing music again someday!
What are you most proud of? My husband — he is in the Arizona Army National Guard, he works so hard to provide for our family and he is such a dedicated husband and father. I am so thankful for him. And, of course, my children — watching them learn, grow and succeed is really amazing. It is one thing to accomplish something yourself, but to watch your children succeed is just a whole different level of amazing!
Job title: Classroom operations specialist
Job location: 27th Avenue
What attracted you to GCU? The things that really drew me to GCU were that it is a Christian university and, in my opinion, the best in the country. Also, I used to live fairly close to GCU, and seeing the expansion and positive impact that it is having on the surrounding neighborhoods is really remarkable. To see a university make the area a better place to live, improving schools and the opportunities for the students there, is really powerful to watch and I wanted to be a part of it. Oh, and my husband, Grant, works here!
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? When the weather is nice (not over 110 degrees), I really enjoy riding my bike, taking walks or just trying to stay active outside. This time of year, however, that time is spent in the pool. I also am somewhat of a foodie, so I constantly look for new restaurant openings in the Valley and have a “bucket list” just for the restaurants that I have yet to try. My favorite restaurants in the Valley are Citizen Public House, The Gladly (chef Bernie Kantak is amazing!) and The Breadfruit.
What are you passionate about? I am passionate about my faith, my family and my future. I am pursuing my degree to set an example for my son. I want to be the best person I can be, both inside and out, for myself and for my family.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? My favorite places in the Valley are Chase Field and University of Phoenix Stadium. My husband and I love baseball and football, so we really try to take advantage of the sports here and attend as many games as possible. My favorite baseball team is the Los Angeles Dodgers, and my favorite football team is the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I have a crazy resumé! I have been a cake decorator, worked for a dirt bike shop, managed an aquarium store as a marine life and coral propagation specialist, was a deckhand on a scuba diving boat, and the list goes on. I really cherish the unique jobs and experiences that I have had and believe they have made me who I am.
What are you most proud of? My 1-year-old son, Carter. He is really adorable! It is kind of mind blowing.
Job title: Media and advertising specialist
Job location: 27th Avenue
What attracted you to GCU? I moved to Arizona a little more than three months ago. I had heard really wonderful things in the community and from my parents about Grand Canyon University, and I really wanted to work for a university again. The fact that the school is Christian centered also appealed to me.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? Coming from Minnesota, I am taking advantage of being able to go outside and be active without having to wear a parka and risking frostbite. I love to run outside, go for hikes and walk my three-legged dog named Benny. That’s right! He has three legs, is part hairless and can barely see, but he is the most loving dog in the world. I got him from a rescue in Minnesota called Wags and Whiskers because he had all the traits I wanted in a dog. As well as being active outdoors, I also love to photograph nature. The desert is one of the best places to shoot because of the light and the scenery. I also love to shop at vintage and secondhand stores for my new Etsy shop, Javelina Vintage, which I’m hoping to set up in the next few weeks. There are a lot of great stores that I am starting to discover in Phoenix and the surrounding area, but I love to go to the White Dove Thrift Shoppe.
What are you passionate about? I am very passionate about art therapy. I volunteer at Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, which provides free art programs for children who are in foster care or Child Protective Services.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? Since I just moved here I still am discovering what the Valley has to offer, but I love going to Bookman’s and just looking around and buying books and books and books …. you get the idea. I love anything by Chuck Palahniuk. My boyfriend is really into William Faulkner, so I’m starting to read some of his classics.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I have a fear of wax figures, mannequins and mascots. I will be working on shoots with Thunder, so I am hoping that will help me get over my fear.
What are you most proud of? My move to Phoenix. It was hard leaving my second family (friends) in Minnesota, but Arizona has offered me a lot of great opportunities and I am glad that I took the leap to move from the frozen tundra to the dry heat.