Antelope Intros: Carissa Gwerder and Kelsey Heng
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: Academic coordinator, student-athlete development
Job location: Main campus
What attracted you to GCU? The growth on campus is extremely exciting, and I wanted to be part of that journey. I also felt like it was a great fit based on all of the wonderful people I met on my interview.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? I love to hike and be outside although I have had to practice my patience in waiting for weather that allows me to be outdoors. I moved here in June, and this heat is the real deal.
What are you passionate about? I am passionate about helping other people reach their potential. Few things make me happier than seeing student-athletes get excited because they raised their grade in a class or did really well on an exam.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? Since I am so new to the area I can’t really say yet, but I’m looking forward to exploring! I’m most excited to support all the GCU sports.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I grew up in a small town in Washington. It’s really mountainous and forested, so, naturally, I believe in Bigfoot. Call me crazy, but he’s real.
What are you most proud of? I am most proud of my family. I have three siblings, and I am so proud of everything they have accomplished and how close we are. They are my best friends, and I am very thankful to have them in my life.
Job title: University development counselor
Job location: Long Beach, Calif.
What attracted you to GCU? It’s a bit of a long-winded story; you might want to sit down. Having grown up a Phoenician, within the church and familiar with private local schools, Grand Canyon was always in my line of sight. When it came time to choose a college after high school graduation (in 2006), I toured the GCU campus but ended up going elsewhere. During that time and from a state away, I was able to witness the University’s transformation and marketing. My ears perked whenever GCU was mentioned. Family and friends started enrolling or beginning employment at GCU, and it was always with interest that I watched their experiences and started asking questions. Through their eyes, I’ve gained immense respect for the University, not just because of the overhaul made, but because of the leadership’s commitment to be part of something bigger than the campus or the business, but to make a different in the lives of individuals, communities and higher education in the name of Jesus. Being a witness to GCU attracted me, and learning the mission sold me.
What do you do for fun and where do you find that outlet? As a professional photographer, my second job is honestly my fun. Having originally started as a photojournalist in the news industry, my outlet is now mainly in the wedding industry and photographing Southern California weddings. I feel most comfortable behind the camera, and I feel blessed to be trusted to document people’s life moments and memories.
What are you passionate about? People. And I know that is going to translate well into this role. I care for people, for their success and their futures. If I can be a small part in someone’s life and make them feel known, heard and believed in, then I know I’ll be fulfilled in this work for a long time.
What are your favorite places or events in the Valley that you like to visit? OK, this is important. If nothing else, make sure you hear this. Two Hippies Beach House is the only place with a cactus burrito worth crying over. Once, before driving home to California, I bought an ice chest, ordered 10 burritos, drove across the desert, put them in my freezer and had the best week and a half of my life. I may be crazy, but I’m also right. Go try the cactus veggie burrito — it’s only a three-mile drive from Building 71. Don’t ask me how I know that.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know: I’ve lived by the ocean for almost five years, but still miss the desert every day. Also, the answer is, yes, the red hair is natural.
What are you most proud of? I think right now I’m most proud of myself. Taking the leap into this position is a whole new world for me, and having just left a non-profit relief organization I consider family, I’m proud of myself for facing a hard goodbye and now stepping into this next adventure with GCU. I’m ready to do all I can to serve and better the lives of others.