GCU alumni spotlight: McKinney and Zeigler

October 18, 2016 / by / 0 Comment

GCU led two alumni into life-changing careers. When Brittany McKinney arrived on campus, she came with the original purpose of earning a degree to be an elementary special education teacher but that changed when she found a Peace Corps recruiting booth on campus. She is now in Tonga teaching English. Christal Zeigler advocates for the young lives of more than 19,000 children in foster care in Arizona.

(Editor’s note: These stories are from the August 2016 issue of GCU Magazine. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here.)

By Jeannette Cruz
GCU Magazine


Brittany McKinney

Brittany McKinney came to GCU to become an elementary special education teacher, but that changed at a job fair when she walked up to a Peace Corps recruiter sitting at an empty booth and learned that she could take her skills overseas.

McKinney, who graduated in April, has joined 24 other recruits to teach English in Tonga, located in the South Pacific east of Australia, for the next two years. The 21-year-old is excited to represent Arizona and her alma mater.

“I am so passionate about this because I know I have so much knowledge to share,” she said.

In Tonga, her hope is to improve education and to begin her quest of setting up a library for the community. McKinney said her well-rounded education from GCU has prepared her to take on any life-changing experience — even if it means leaving her mother, Paula, and their two cats for the first time.

Once her service is completed, McKinney plans to earn her graduate degree in deaf education from Boston University.


Christal Zeiglercropped

Christal Zeigler

When no one else is willing to open their heart and their home to a child, Grand Canyon University alumna Christal Zeigler (B.A. in Psychology, ’96) passionately advocates for the young lives of more than 19,000 children in foster care in Arizona. Her goal is to break the generational cycle of foster care by creating a healthy, safe and supportive environment for biological families.

“If biological families could see different ways to parent, then children could learn what a healthy model of love looks like,” she said.

“And I believe that whether they return home or they’re adopted, they will have a chance to positively affect generations after them.”

Zeigler has been an adoption specialist at A Place to Call Home for 15 years and has spent 20 years in social services. She has appeared regularly on AZ-TV’s Morning Scramble to highlight foster care and adoption and to feature children who need a “forever home.”

Zeigler had her own struggles growing up — she lost her mother at 16 and grew up with a single father. That’s why the feeling of loss resonates with her.

“God gave me a passion for this generation and for these children,” Zeigler said. “These are my children and they’re amazing.”

 Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or jeannette.cruz@gcu.edu

About the Author
Leave a Comment