At GCU’s Move-In, everyone knows your name

August 22, 2016 / by / 5 Comments

Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Bureau

It’s an annual rite, like the swallows returning to Capistrano. Only the swallows don’t have throngs of cheering Grand Canyon University students chanting their names.

Every August, the Express Move-In at GCU’s Welcome Week features purple-shirted volunteers laughing, joking, screaming, waving, dancing, clapping, Lopes Upping and just generally going crazy as car after car, with license plates from all over the country, drives up to be unloaded in about a minute.

Students made it clear how they felt about the fact that the new freshmen were on campus.

Students made it clear how they felt about the fact that the new freshmen were on campus.

But the name recognition is what really makes it special. The swallows don’t know what they’re missing.

The volunteers directing traffic kept hearing about it Monday morning, on the first day of Move-In, as they wrote the student’s name, residence hall and room number on the car windshield. “I want to hear them call my name!” the students would say.

And then when it was time to drive up, the fun began.

“Welcome to GCU, Cynthia!”

“Brooke! Brooke! Brooke!”

Cars honking. Students cheering louder. The parents and students arriving on campus get to hear it only once, but the students keep doing it for every new batch of cars, about a dozen at a time. They seem to keep inventing new ways to have fun with it.

“The best thing about it,” said GCU President Brian Mueller, surveying the scene at The Grove residence halls, reserved exclusively for freshmen, “is that the students have taken this over and take responsibility for it. They were treated so well when they first got here, and now they want to pass it on.”

GCU President Brian Mueller talks with student volunteers.

GCU President Brian Mueller talks with student volunteers.

Every local television station was on hand early Monday to record the festivities for their morning newscasts. There was a lot happening, both out front and behind the scenes.

Dads high-fiving volunteers as they drive up.

Volunteers cheering the way people were driving.

Delightfully cooler than normal temperatures.

One volunteer using a spray bottle to cool off his fellow students.

Move-In humor: Volunteer goes up to another volunteer carrying a large box and acts as if he wants to shake hands.

More Move-In humor: One broad-shouldered volunteer lugs a mini-refrigerator by himself. The volunteer behind him carries a pillow, just to be funny. Hey, when you’re carrying things up stairs all morning, you need a break once in awhile.

Parents who had a far different move-in experience at their university, way back when, came back after their car was unloaded and parked to record the event with their cell phone.

Thunder is never bashful about getting to know people.

Thunder is never bashful about getting to know people.

“We’ve heard it’s as awesome as it is,” said one mom, Cynthia Regardie, whose daughter Lauren was moving into Willow Hall. “We talked about how, back when we moved in to our college, we just had to figure it out — and wound up walking up and down about 50 times.”

The first cars rolled in to be unloaded at 6:30 a.m., about a half-hour ahead of schedule, and the same was done later in the morning for the second batch of move-ins at Acacia Hall.

“So far it’s gone pretty smoothly,” said Charity Norman, new student and family programs manager and the coordinator for all Welcome Week activities. “The mornings are a little hectic, but once it’s rolling it’s a well-oiled machine.”

After going through the move-in line, students and their families have a chance to catch their breath before orientation activities start in the afternoon.

The high-fives were out in force, too.

The high-fives were out in force, too.

“For the mornings, especially on the first day that you move in, we give that time to students just to get their room set up, go out to lunch with their family, go to the stores and get things that they need,” Norman said. “In the afternoon is when the orientation begins, and then the next several days they’re busy.”

It’s a way to get things off to a good start and see what GCU is all about. Mueller noted that the academic year starts and ends with two special events — Welcome Week and commencement — that act like book ends. In focus groups, he said, students have emphasized how important it is to gather in large numbers and bond.

“We just like to get together,” Mueller said.

Kind of like the swallows. But they don’t have nearly as much fun. It doesn’t always pay to travel lighter.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or

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5 Responses
  1. Laura

    Thank you for doing what you do so we parents at home can see what’s happening.

    Aug.23.2016 at 12:25 pm
  2. Julie

    Thank you so much for doing this for all the students and the parents! It is such a huge blessing! After driving all night long to get there, it was amazing to have all our daughter’s things moved in for her. What a great way to welcome everyone back to school!

    Aug.25.2016 at 10:23 pm
  3. Duncan

    That is so cool. I wish I was welcomed to my college like that. Nice to see freshmen have a support team to make them feel at home.

    Aug.26.2016 at 7:30 pm
  4. Charisse Powell

    Thank you to all the volunteers. This was a great experience for my incoming freshman.

    Aug.27.2016 at 4:38 pm
  5. jodie

    We were so blessed and amazed at the energy, willingness to work so hard and welcoming words of the move-in volunteers! The names on the windshield was GREAT too!! Isaiah’s dad and I were sad to leave AZ, but boy, was it comforting to know he is in the Spirit-filled campus of GCU. Thanks so much!

    Sep.19.2016 at 3:41 pm
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