My LopeLife: All roads lead to GCU
Editor’s note: My LopeLife is a feature in which GCU students, staff and alumni share enlightening experiences. To be considered for My LopeLife, please submit a short synopsis of your suggested topic to GCUToday@gcu.edu with “My LopeLife” in the subject field.
By Tatiana Brown
GCU was never even on my radar of universities to attend. Growing up in Southern California, I always thought that I would go to a school by the beach, but when I came to GCU on a Discover trip, I quickly changed my mind.
I think it was the smallest things that influenced me the most: the kindness and camaraderie among the student body, the fact that every guy held doors open for me, and the atmosphere of excitement and school spirit at the basketball game.
I loved it here. There was always something exciting going on, and there were so many people to meet and befriend. But when I left GCU during Christmas break, it would be four years before I came back.
The end of my first semester, my mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative autoimmune disease that is known to shorten the life expectancy of those who contract it. Her body was literally attacking itself, and it had settled in her brain, destroying the tissue and making her unable to function to full capacity.
I am the second born, the oldest girl in my family of nine. My mom always has called me her “right-hand-woman.” We’ve been through everything together.
When I was a child, she homeschooled both me and my older brother and continued to do so with all of my younger siblings. But with the MS she was unable to keep her own thoughts in order to have a coherent conversation, much less continue to teach my five younger siblings. I was needed at home.
My father was working and my mother no longer could run the household. Neither of them ever would have asked me to leave school; they didn’t even so much as hint or suggest it.
But I knew that at this moment, that was what God wanted me to do. I had to be there for my family. I had to put them first and be active in the lives of my young siblings so that they could thrive the way I had under my mom.
I’m not one to give up on something once I’ve started, so during my time at home I decided to continue with my studies and pursue a degree by going to a community college.
Those four years were long and arduous. I was working, going to school and trying to run a household the way my mom once did. There were times when I felt as if I was going nowhere and accomplishing nothing, but I continued to plow through class after class.
After the first month or so of being at home, I received a phone call from GCU. They were just checking in to see how I was doing. They encouraged me in continue my education and just wanted to let me know that they were there for me.
I hadn’t been forgotten. I wasn’t just a number in the ever increasing influx of students. I continued to get those calls throughout the four years of my absence.
As time passed, my mom’s health gradually improved, and it was time for me to transfer back to a four-year university to finish out my degree. I did not consider GCU an option because I wanted to be close to home, and after all this time of thinking I wasn’t accomplishing anything, I didn’t want to feel as if I was going backward.
I considered three other universities, but they didn’t feel right to me. I couldn’t figure out why – until I realized I was looking for those universities to feel like GCU had.
I wanted to feel the excitement in the air and the sense of community that permeates the student body. I wanted to feel like I was home. And I finally realized that I was looking for GCU everywhere except at GCU.
I came to understand that returning to Grand Canyon to finish my education would not be moving backward, it actually would be a chance for me to continue my narrative where I had left off.
My senior year has flown by and commencement is here. In the last year, I’ve been proposed to multiple times by America’s Favorite Mascot, Thunder; I’ve cheered and screamed my lungs out as a Havocs all-access member; and I’ve made friends and connections that I hope to keep for the rest of my life.
Choosing GCU always will be the best decision I ever could have made. If given the chance, I would do it all over again.