Learning Lounge topped off grad’s GCU experience
By Karen Fernau
GCU News Bureau
Heidi Rausch walked into the Learning Lounge at Grand Canyon University during her sophomore year seeking help with a physics concept tangling her brain in knots.
By her junior year, she’d gone from struggling student to “A” student — and from a student receiving help to one sharing her knowledge.
Rausch became one of nearly 75 learning advocates, or LEADs, offering free academic advice to about 14,000 students a year. During Thursday’s commencement ceremony, she’ll silently thank the Learning Lounge for playing a positive role in her academic career.
“It was a huge part of my life at GCU — my support system, really,” said Rausch, who is graduating with a degree in Biology and plans to attend medical school. “It took me awhile to go there because I was not a student who typically needed help, but once there, I stayed,”
Although inspiring, Rausch’s story is commonplace at GCU.
“The Learning Lounge is made up of students who walk in to get help and leave giving help,” said Trish Anderson, program manager for Student Development and Outreach.
“It’s all about building a relationship between the student needing help and the LEAD.”
Bryce Beatty, a 2016 graduate, was the LEAD who untangled the physics concept for Rausch.
If not for his two jobs — an engineering project manager who also works in a hospital emergency room in Oregon — he’d be in the GCU Arena stands watching her graduate.
“I really pushed her to excel, and we bonded,” said Beatty, a GCU Biology major who also has plans to attend medical school. “It’s a joyful feeling when someone you worked with at the Learning Lounge graduates.”
He’s even prouder that she returned the favor by “eventually helping guide other students to the finish line and graduation.”
According to both Rausch and Beatty, the Learning Lounge succeeds in large part because of face-to-face, peer-on-peer counseling.
“They are able to figure out what piece is not clicking for a student and explain the concept in a different way,” Rausch said.
Beatty agreed: “Students helping students just works. You walk into the Learning Lounge filled with students and work with another student who knows what you are going through.”
After graduation, Rausch plans to return home to Montana and begin applying to medical schools. While she’s ready for the next challenge, she will miss all things GCU, especially her friends in the Learning Lounge.
“It really is about the relationships, the student you work with and along with,” she said. “I have been so blessed to have so many.”
Contact Karen Fernau at (602) 639-8344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.