Commencement surprise was music to his ears
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Ever pull off the perfect surprise? Janet Lopez did Friday afternoon at Grand Canyon University commencement.
Moments after Lopez’s fiancé, Edgar Oropeza, received his Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Administration, she had to find a way to lure him away from GCU Arena … where a 14-man mariachi band she’d hired, resplendent in matching black-and-gray outfits, was poised to perform.
“She said, ‘Hey, come here, something’s going on outside,’” Oropeza recounted later. “And I was like, ‘Oh my God!’”
But the path from planning to execution wasn’t as easy as 1-2-3-4.
First, there were the simple location logistics. They’re from Los Angeles and had never been to campus, so when she found a mariachi band online she wasn’t able to offer much information.
“They wanted to know the area and I said, ‘I don’t know,’” she said.
She called the University to find out the time of the ceremony and ask if it would be OK for the band to play and was told that it was on two conditions: The band couldn’t perform near the Arena, which would be crowded with graduates and their families, and it needed to wrap up before 5 p.m., when people coming for the 7 p.m. ceremony would start flooding in.
So she made the arrangements but almost spoiled the surprise when Oropeza wondered what time the ceremony was.
He hadn’t told her. They hadn’t discussed it. She wasn’t expected to know. Fortunately, he didn’t notice when she quickly and matter-of-factly answered, “2 p.m.”
Everything was in order until Friday afternoon, when the band showed up … and didn’t know where to go … and tried to come into the Arena.
The GCU Events team quickly solved that confusion, and for an hour after the ceremony the horns blared on the Promenade near the 33rd Avenue entrance as Oropeza and Lopez danced and took photos and just smiled.
Was he properly surprised?
“Big surprise,” he said. “I was not expecting this at all. Being a first-generation graduate, it meant a lot coming to this school. I applied, I did my cores and then awhile ago when I walked the stage it was amazing.”
Little did he know then that his GCU experience was about to get even more amazing.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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