Story by Jeannette Cruz
Photos by David Kadlubowski
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University recognized, celebrated and encouraged those who have gone above and beyond Thursday at the Honors College Banquet.
The banquet featured a buffet, a congratulatory address by Dr. Antoinette Farmer-Thompson, Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and the dean of the Honors College, and an alumni address by Cathleen Daly, 2017 Outstanding Senior of the Year. Emcees of the night were students Brendan Dyer and Sean Thomason. More than 20 of the most outstanding students were recognized for their academic excellence, commitment, leadership and impact.
In her opening address, Farmer-Thompson encouraged students to use their gifts and talents to go out and bless society.
Quoting the words of a prominent writer, she said, “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
She urged, “So students, faculty, staff … while you are here go ahead and do your best to make a difference, and I promise you God will create a path. Try to be the light and whenever you are light, darkness cannot exist around you no matter the challenges. Make sure you continue to persist.”
Daly talked about her post-college experience (referring to it as “freshman year of adulthood”), the power of prayer and the difference between “God-size dreams” and “good dreams.”
“There’s nothing wrong with a good dream. Good dreams make you happy. Good dreams are realistic. Good dreams can be life-altering. But the God dreams give you purpose and joy,” she told the students. “God dreams are not guaranteed to be easy, and they will be filled with trials. God dreams will make you grow. They are the dreams that keep you awake at night and keep you dreaming during the day. … How that dream will look will be different for everyone and that’s the exciting part.
“As you celebrate tonight and finish up the semester, whether it’s your first year or last, I challenge you to step out of your place of comfort and ask yourself, ‘Do I want the good dream or do I want the God dream?’ … Someday you will be so grateful that you didn’t settle for the good dream.”
To wrap up the night, with an emphasis on “doing something” and never giving up, Noah Wolfe, 2018-19 student body president, pushed students to stay committed and to engage the problems around the world by taking action.
“My hope and prayer is that we don’t take what we are doing and accomplishing for granted, but we use it to make the world a better place,” he said.
This year’s Outstanding Senior Award was presented to biology major Emily Ghena, who was instrumental in recruiting more than 1,000 new members into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars in the 2017-18 academic year. Additionally, this is her third year as founder and president of the Honors STEMists organization. Ghena plans to pursue a career in dentistry.
Josh McGuire was awarded a prestigious Dean’s Selection Award by Farmer-Thompson. McGuire co-founded Storage Together and created Prophet Insight, which uses artificial intelligence to provide location-based data analysis for small and medium-size businesses. McGuire also has been selected to represent the Colangelo College of Business as this year’s commencement speaker.
“It’s always so hard to pick one or two award recipients because, as celebratory as this event is, they are all so deserving of recognition,” said Breanna Naegeli, Assistant Dean to the Honors College. “There is so much that goes into making the Honors College – the administration, the students, the Career IMPACT Center, the colleges, Athletics. We are all working together and nurturing the same students so that they can thrive.”
Below is a list of other Honors awards and recipients:
Canyon Spirit: Camden Bole
Student Athlete of the Year: Samiha Mohsen
Academic Excellence: Jessica Symes
Exceptional Commitment: John Varkey
Inspiring Leader: Shaun Wang
Servant Leader: Denisse Delos Santos
Outstanding Community Outreach: Cooper Floto
Global Impact and Innovation: Gabriela Calhoun
Honors College Advocate: AZHOSA and Jill Schiemann
Honors College Faculty of the Year: Dr. Val Martinez
Honors College Symposium Finalists
6th place: Prophet Insight
5th place: The Digital Sticker
4th place: VEGA
3rd place: History Needs You
2nd place: 3Derma
1st place: Ball Out Phoenix
Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or email@example.com