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    Categories: Campus LifeFeaturedSpotlight

Welcome Week just kept making memories

GCU News Bureau

Welcome Week at Grand Canyon University always is a win-win – students get incredible, friendly help moving their belongings into their residence halls and apartments, then spend the rest of the week enjoying a wide range of informational, spiritual and fun activities.

But Welcome Week 2018 was such a hit, it was a win-win-win-win-win.

News flash: Students use their cell phones a lot. Now they can stay in touch with what’s happening on campus through the new GCU Engage app. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Win: It set records for the number of students both arriving and volunteering at Move-In.

Win: The two biggest events of the week, New Student Worship Night/Ignite and Lope-A-Palooza, drew huge crowds and made an equally huge impression on newcomers looking for connections to campus life.

Win: Other events, such as the Out-of-State Social, were packed and went on longer than anticipated because students were having such a good time. Organizers said the new GCU Engage app played a big role in keeping students informed and, well, engaged.

Win: Welcome Week, and especially Move-In, has been featured for years by Phoenix television stations, but the three-hour visit by 3TV on Friday morning broke new ground. Viewers got a thorough tour of what makes the campus so vibrant.

Win: Maybe the biggest win of all, if you’re scoring at home, was the exciting 2-1 men’s soccer victory over No. 12-ranked Wisconsin on Friday before a record crowd (yes, another record) at GCU Stadium. In terms of the setting and the opponent’s status, it’s GCU’s biggest victory since moving up to NCAA Division I in 2013.

There are so many fond memories, they’re worth another look in words, photos and the video above. Here are some things that caught the eyes and ears of GCU Today reporters as they roved around campus. Since we’re on the subject of winning, we’re giving these items the appropriate awards:

Wild Gaming Award

Gertrude the Giraffe spent part of Thursday in front of Chick-fil-A. (Photo by Ryan Kryska)

We don’t know who, we don’t know why and we don’t even know where most of the time. But a large giraffe statue kept showing up around campus all week. The thing feels as if it weighs about 100 pounds.

On Thursday, it was outside Chick-fil-A, donning a dog tag that hinted at a game and told us its name — Gertrude. The tag said, “This is a game. Do not throw away,” on one side and “To join game add me @calling-colin” on the other side.

An insider to the Snapchat game told GCU Today that the rules are as follows: “Whenever you see the giraffe, if you choose, take a photo of where you found it, and then put a clue of where you left it.”

Where will Gertrude make her way next? Will she become a campus fixture? GCU Today will continue this high-level investigation.

Move-In Mania Awards (10-way tie)

Gertrude the Giraffe wasn’t the only unusual object student volunteers saw. Talking to them about the wackiest things they moved in produced these gems, with some of their comments:

  • An old mahogany dresser. “It must have weighed 500 pounds.”
  • A full-size tree. “I guess they wanted to make the room feel more nature-y.”

    We give up — what is that round object for? Is it part of a piece of furniture? Is it decorative? But it’s hardly the strangest item that was unloaded. (Photo by Theresa Smith)

  • A giant cutout of Justin Bieber.
  • A giant cutout of John Cena’s head.
  • A whole collection of vinyl records.
  • A giant couch that looked like a pair of lips.
  • A huge massage chair. “Like the ones you see at the mall.”
  • A car that had four big boxes just for shoes.
  • A car that was full of food. “Makes sense when you think about it.”
  • A trunk full of water bottles. “That makes sense, too.”

In some cases, the volunteers were left to wonder how their fellow students were going to fit all those items in their room. There were three U-Haul trailers for one apartment; for another, there were two U-Haul trucks.

And then there was the serious gamer who brought three televisions and a giant chair … and his room was on the sixth floor.

The Lonely Guy Award

To Taylor Potter, the club sports employee who directed traffic on a quiet corner leading to The Grove. “I think I have been here for three hours, but the concept of time is starting to slip,” Potter said on Day 2 around 10 a.m. “It is organized well, so it is easy on us.”

Most Enthusiastic in a Solo Situation Award

Selena Nguyen never lacked for enthusiasm. (Photo by Theresa Smith)

Many GCU volunteers feed off each other’s energy while making Herculean efforts to greet every family arriving on campus for Move-In. Selena Nguyen, a sophomore from Phoenix, was stationed just past one of the main entry points, leaving her without a posse with whom to cheer and dance. Undeterred, Nguyen raced along with many vehicles carrying family members, offering warm greetings and essential information. Nguyen was joined by many other staff volunteers who are out there in the heat for five straight days cheerfully directing traffic and making sure the cars flow as smoothly as possible.

It’s a Small World Award (Domestic Division)

Sophomore biology major Andrea Broyles was out with her fellow Lopes on Wednesday morning helping students move into Sedona Hall. She was surprised when she started unloading one particular vehicle: “I saw a friend from high school I hadn’t seen for a while. I didn’t think I would be one of the ones moving him – so that was kind of fun,” said Broyles, who, like her friend from high school, is attending GCU far from home. They’re both from Oregon.

It’s a Small World Award (International Division)

Junior business major Libbie Jones, when she wasn’t going all Hercules and using her muscle to haul boxes up flights of stairs and down hallways as a volunteer Move-In Week mover, works at the Antelope Reception Center. It’s where prospective students go to get the biggest welcome ever – and to learn about GCU and see if this might be their future college campus.

“I remember giving a tour to a girl who was visiting from Hong Kong.”

Many parents took delight in the wild reception for them and their children. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Lo and behold, Jones said during Welcome Week she was helping a new student move in, and it was that girl from Hong Kong. She didn’t know she had picked GCU.

“She remembered I was her tour guide. She remembered me from then,” Jones said.

Best Parents Award

One parent brought coffee and donuts for the student volunteers. Many others (including drivers) recorded the scene on their cell phones as they drove up. There even were parents sitting on top of their vehicles upon arrival – hey, you’ve got to have a good view, right?

And then there was the guy who had massive horns on his truck and took delight in blaring them at the students – who took equal delight in going appropriately crazy.

A Load of Laundry (Basket) Award

Monicah Mwaura (left) and Eunice Ishimwe were pressed into some tough duty by, of all things, a laundry basket. (Photo by Theresa Smith)

Student leaders Monicah Mwaura of the Associated Students of GCU and Eunice Ishimwe of the Worship Team arose at 4 a.m. Monday for breakfast and started unloading cars by 5:45 a.m., yet they were not overly fatigued with one exception – a weighty laundry basket that required them to channel the Incredible Hulk.

“It looked super light, but then it was so heavy and we had to carry it up six flights of stairs,” Ishimwe said. “So we are working out, basically.”

Instant Connection Award

Junior sports management major John-Marc Boucher said one of the most memorable items he moved in was a 75-inch television. He laughed and said he didn’t know how anyone could sit back far enough in their room to actually see the screen without their eyes bugging out.

But his most memorable Move-In story was meeting a student sitting in his truck waiting in line.

Sign of the times: Some vans came with decorations. (Photo by Lana Sweeten-Shults)

“We got to talking,” Boucher said. “He started a club in high school to go pray over children that have cancer. I thought, that’s so cool. It was one of the most heartwarming things. There was an instant connection with me and the guy.”

Boucher said he’ll be joining that new student to go the hospital and pray for those children.

Most Spirited Van Award

The gray minivan that brought sophomore transfer Chris Parker to campus was fully in the Move-In spirit when it arrived at Saguaro Hall. Written all over the windows: “GCU, here he comes! Bye-bye, California, Hello Phoenix” with an accompanying map of sorts dotting the way from California to Arizona with the words, “College bound: 1 mom, 2 kids.”

Rick Vacek, Lana Sweeten-Shults, Theresa Smith and Ryan Kryska contributed to this story.

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