By Mackartnie Gandy
GCU News Bureau
Kristian Falkenstein shows his dedication to others through his work as a Grand Canyon University admissions counselor – and through real-life heroism.
On a late September night in Belmar, N.J., Falkenstein was playing volleyball on the beach with some friends. Then he saw a terrifying sight: a man caught in the riptide and struggling in the water.
The man was waving his hands in the air and screaming for help. No lifeguard was on duty to help the man, so Falkenstein took it upon himself to dive into the water and save him.
After he jumped in, he held the man from the underarms in order to keep them both afloat. While struggling to not retain too much water, Falkenstein said he was trying to calm the man, who did not speak any English.
“The man was very distressed and could not swim well,” Falkenstein said. “We took a hard beating from the waves.”
A police officer also jumped in, and bystanders called the Coast Guard, which came 20 minutes later and pulled all three out of the water alive.
Born and raised in Newton, Pa., Falkenstein grew up around water, whether he was swimming in the backyard pool or at the beach sailing or surfing. During high school and college he was a certified swimming instructor and taught swim lessons at the Newton Athletic Club while lifeguarding at various pools.
He enjoys spending his free time being active in the community and in nature. He likes to play beach volleyball, wakeboard and snowboard with his buddies whenever he can.
Falkenstein has been with GCU for five years. He originally started at a Los Angeles location, where he helped ground students, and then got transferred to the online division.
But no matter where he has worked for the University, his goal has been to live out GCU’s mission statement and help students find their purpose.
“I love GCU and live to serve others,” he said. “… My family and friends know I am always eager to lend a helping hand and put my experience and training to good use.”