By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University President Brian Mueller couldn’t have set the tone any better Thursday when he directed his attention to the new 600 freshmen seated inside GCU Arena for the Honors College Kickoff.
“There’s probably no other place in the world that has this much brainpower in one place,” he said.
The occasion was an event that recognized the largest incoming freshman class with a 4.0 GPA and higher, introduced them to new opportunities in the Honors College and encouraged success for the future.
Mueller lectured on the need for innovation in higher education. He said for decades, higher education has been a lot about producing graduates who got plugged into working in Fortune 500 or Fortune 1000 companies. With new and interesting ideas, he said, comes prosperity to a greater number of society.
He urged, “Use this time to stretch that creative capacity to become the germination of some company that will create thousands of jobs or to become the next President of the United States — because it could be you.”
Next up was Dr. Antoinette Farmer, vice president of institutional effectiveness, who read a poem by Edgar Albert Guest titled “It Couldn’t Be Done,” to put forward the idea that anything is possible.
Breanna Naegeli, Honors College assistant dean, served as the keynote speaker for the program. With an emphasis on becoming influential agents of change, Naegeli challenged students pursue honors-exclusive events, social activities, guest speakers, clubs, internships and international travel opportunities scheduled throughout the year.
“What I learned through my personal experience and what many students learn every single year is that there are thousands of college graduates competing for the same jobs — we’re here to figure out what’s going to make you different,” she said.
Naegeli also told the students that their presence at GCU is well-deserved. According to Naegeli, 1,200 students are entering the Honors College, double its size from when the program first started in 2013.
“As the Honors College we make up the top 7 to 8 percent of the entire University, so when we say students are in a great program, that means they are a select group and there is so much greatness coming out of the Honors program,” she said.
The event wrapped up with pizza and an information fair in which students could ask questions about the unique opportunities presented to them.
Business major Jerome Jeffcoat was standing with biomedical engineering major Hunter Chambers inside the Arena.
“I feel so honored to be here,” he said. “Even though GCU as a whole is about making a difference, the Honors College takes it to a whole different level. I’m excited to sharpen my ideas to become the best I can be and manage a multiple number of businesses someday.”
Chambers shared his passion for science and his dream to run his own research-and-development firm for prosthetics.
“It feels very special to be here to make that possible,” he said. “Everybody is so enthusiastic, involved and driven — it’s not like any other college I’ve visited or heard of.”
Zachary Merhavy, a sophomore at GCU, has experienced the value of being a part of the Honors program firsthand.
He was one of 22 participants last year who took part in a six-week boot camp launched by the Honors College and hosted by Career Services and business professionals. As a first-year biology pre-med student, Merhavy struggled with branding himself.
“The Honors College showed me that I can be better than I am,” he said. “It gave me a lot of the confidence and ambition that I needed, and I hope that it can serve these students in such big ways.”
Farmer said, “These are very bright students with a bright future, and they know to come here for that fruition. The Honors College is going to do everything we can to pull out creativity and to make sure that they reach their destiny because we are who we say we are. Sitting there, I saw that their eyes were huge and fixated on what was being said, and you could tell that they were motivated.”
Contact Jeannette Cruz at email@example.com or (602) 639-6631.