Parent Council’s love fills students at Fuel for Finals
By Theresa Smith
GCU News Bureau
When Grand Canyon University students stop by the Fuel for Finals tables Tuesday and Wednesday, the smiling parents at the four locations on campus are offering more than snacks, encouragement and prayers.
They also are setting an example, which strikes a gratitude chord with senior Stephen Steininger, Vice President of the Associated Students of Grand Canyon University (ASGCU).
“It has been extremely encouraging to see the care and dedication with which the Parent Council serves the greater student body,’’ Steininger said. “As a student, I have personally interacted with the council in various settings, and their hearts are so clearly pure it’s hard to not be positively impacted by their work.’’
Furthering these relationships is the increased familiarity among parents of GCU students, both in-state and out of state. That’s where the Parent Council takes center stage.
“Parent Council members strengthen the important partnership we have with families, serving as liaisons between the University and parents,” said Robyn Hord, Parent and Family Programs Coordinator from the Office of Welcome Programs.
Council members also can be found on campus during Welcome Week, Family Orientation, Family Weekend and Serve the City. The Fuel for Finals locations from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday are the Promenade in front of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Building, the Technology Building, Papago Apartments and the walkway to The Grove.
Dusti Powell, one of 14 members of the Parent Council, said it is all about showing young people that they are loved but also providing resources to other parents.
“Yes, they are young adults, out on their own, but parents still have a role,’’ she said. “I hope that I can be an inspiration, an ambassador to other parents. Because that 18-to-23 age group, even though as parents we’re supposed to break the ties off a little bit and let our kids grow up and become those adults, it’s still really hard for us and we need each other.”
She prays for students, provides snacks for finals, meets with other parents to prepare care packages and volunteers with them for Serve the City.
“We want to encourage them and love on them and show them that even though they don’t live at home anymore, we’re still right beside them, rooting for them,” she said.
Powell, from Queen Creek, is one of seven council members from Arizona. The other seven parents hail from Colorado, Illinois, New Hampshire and Washington state. They each serve a two-year term. In that time frame, they try to make connections with the families of GCU students who live in their area. Prayer meetings, service projects and making student care packages are their primary initiatives.
Powell volunteered for Serve the City’s Habitat for Humanity project on Feb. 9 with her husband, Bart, and their three sons. Kade Powell is a GCU junior in the Colangelo College of Business, and Kolbe Powell, 18, will be a freshman in August.
“It is awesome,” she said while taking a break from painting at Serve the City. “We are having so much fun; everybody is working together. God is present here and the students are so, so willing to help. They are so kind, I love it. It is an honor to be here.”
Kade, who was painting nearby, pointed out that his parents set the example when he was young by cleaning their church twice per month.
“She gets involved and she tells me when I am missing out on things,’’ he said. “I love that. It gives me the opportunity to step up.’’
Kade is all in on his mom’s involvement with Parent Council.
“I am really proud of her,’’ he said. “She jumped into it and she is loving it. During finals, Mom prays over the students before finals. It is comforting to her to help the kids get through the stress of finals.’’
Dusti said, “We get together to pray over all of the staff and all of the students at GCU. And we pray to grow in community with the other parents. I think that is really important.’’
Dusti has met parents at Welcome Week and Fuel for Finals and answered their questions and eased their fears. She didn’t hesitate to give them her phone number, and it proved helpful in the ensuing months for those who wanted to text her with a quick question or call her.
“It has been great,’’ she said. “It is a win-win. I meet parents that inspire me. They tell me about life experiences they’ve had with some of their GCU graduates.’’
Even though he lives 2,684 miles away in Bedford, N.H., fellow Parent Council member Mike Fournier wants to make an impact.
“My wife and I had a very positive experience dropping our son off at GCU his freshman year, and then I saw the information about applying for Parent Council and I thought it would be a nice opportunity to help out, to have my voice heard,” he said. “I really appreciate the mission and vision of the University and everything that is happening in west Phoenix. I wanted to be a part of it.”
Andrew Fournier started the connection when a friend from his church recommended GCU, and Andrew was hooked on his Discover GCU trip. Now he is a sophomore majoring in elementary education. After volunteering with his Dad and his older, brother, Aaron, for Serve the City, Andrew showed Aaron the campus while their father attended a Parent Council meeting.
Like Dusti and Bart Powell, Mike and Kathi Fournier have opened their hearts to GCU students.
“Whether I am on Parent Council or not, if GCU needs an ambassador on the East Coast or someone to bring people together, my wife and I are happy to participate in that,’’ Fournier said.
That kind of attitude is contagious and unique, Steininger said: “It is this kind of love and service from every individual involved with GCU that, in my opinion, sets it apart from other universities.’’