Fuel for Finals is a warm display of love
By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau
Talking to a parent volunteer while sipping a warm cup of chocolate on a cold Thursday morning, nursing student Kendall Johnson could feel her finals stress slip away.
Johnson was one of hundreds of students at Grand Canyon University who were offered a spiritual and emotional boost at Fuel for Finals, a campus tradition, hosted by the Office of Student Engagement, that invites students to take a break between studying to enjoy treats, drinks and get some much needed encouragement before final exams. Nearly 50 parents and family members signed up to make the day special.
In addition to handing out candy cane treats with Scripture cards and warm chocolate, volunteers were present to offer prayer and to remind students to self-care. Students also could write a prayer request on a sticky note and put it on a chalkboard.
“It’s honestly really awesome because I was feeling so anxious,” Johnson said. “For nursing school you have to pretty much implement what you’ve learned on an actual human being for a test, so it’s a little stressful. When people came to lay hands on me, I kind of got this feeling that God knew I needed that little boost.”
Jeanne Lind, Parent and Family Program Coordinator, said the event is designed to remind students that they are not alone, particularly during finals and the holiday season.
“I think the best part is that all of us are reminded just how important prayer is and also the privilege to let students know they are cared for,” said Lind.
Rebeka McMurphy, an elementary education major, said support is vital during this time of the year.
“This lifts your spirit,” she said.
For volunteers, the feeling was mutual.
Lind said her encounter with a student brought tears to her eyes: “He was videotaping the prayer board and spoke into his phone, ‘Finals are here and God is here, too.’ Then he thanked me.”
Lisa Kowalski said it was a blessing to be able to pray with the students.
“When you ask a kiddo if they have a prayer request, you can just see in their face that they’ve got stuff going and they are so forthcoming,” she said. “We get to lay hands on them and anoint them with what we’ve got before sending them on their way. We’ve had kiddos in tears, excited, tired, teeth chattering, jazzed about doing great on some finals but worried about others …”
Prayer requests ranged from project presentations to health, difficulties at home, better days, safe travels home, health of friends and strength.
“When we are in that prayer we are not feeling the cold. We’re not feeling the breeze. We are just sensing they are loved by God and that’s the warmth of the Holy Spirit,” Kowalski said.
For Olga Szakal, who recently moved her family to Phoenix from Seattle, said the volunteering opportunity was a chance to help her freshman feel special.
“When I told her I would be on campus, she felt loved and I knew that,” Szakal said. “It’s a love language for her – time.”
After embracing her daughter’s visit on the Promenade with a hug, Szakal also expressed her admiration for the school:
“I believe that love does. It is an action, and GCU does so much to show love.”
Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or firstname.lastname@example.org.