Graduate shows that GCU grace works in tough D.C.
By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau
Brian Mueller entered the office of Arizona Sen. Martha McSally in Washington, D.C., and the Grand Canyon University president had a pleasant surprise.
“I made sure I was up at the front desk about 15 minutes before their scheduled meeting,” said Kara Morrow. “I immediately stood up and introduced myself.”
Kara Morrow, Grand Canyon University graduate.
Morrow, a 2018 graduate in history, walked Mueller through basement hallways to his next appointment, and the two engaged in conversation. Morrow was offered scholarships to several elite colleges but chose GCU.
Mueller’s description of the conversation:
“If you had to do it over again, would you make the same choice?” he asked Morrow.
“Yes, I would make the same choice,” she said.
“Because of the community that I was able to join, the community I’m still a part of.”
That stuck with Mueller, and he shared the story with the student body at the Jan. 6 Chapel as an example of the importance of community.
Morrow said it was wonderful to surprise Mueller as a GCU graduate and be able to share how GCU inspired her.
Her gig in politics not only highlights the story of GCU community that travels with graduates across the country but the growing roster of Lopes who find their way into public service in political offices and special interest groups.
Students have worked for members of Congress, the Arizona State Legislature, the Democratic and Republic parties, the ACLU and American Humane Society, among others.
“GCU faculty members of the Government Program are especially concerned with opening the doors to students for opportunities in the political arena. At any given time, dozens of students are active politically in the community,” said Kevin Walling, Chair of Justice Studies, Government and History in College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “Our job is to help them grown into thinking, responsible and caring young professional adults – not to pass judgment on their individual political interests.”
Morrow came to her job as McSally’s staff assistant after an internship in the White House.
That lofty role, shaking hands with the President, was launched in childhood dreams. Growing up in the Phoenix area, she became an early, voracious reader of history, which led to a love of government. She did well in school and had several options for college.
She visited larger schools but felt lost – not directionally, “but lost as a person.” At GCU, she said, every person made her feel as if she could succeed and find the right path.
“I wanted to go to a school that pushed me academically, and that’s when I heard about GCU and the Honors College,” she said.
Morrow jumped into numerous roles at GCU as a Resident Assistant, an Honors College student worker and president of the Alpha Chi Honors Society. But it was her senior year project that stuck with her, when she was asked to do a presentation.
“Who cares about history? No one cares about history. And that’s why we need to talk about it. So I did a presentation on why history matters and debunked the myth that history is boring,” Morrow said.
“I learned as an RA that you should not put down other people’s passions. The passions given you are just as important as those for health care or engineering. It all looks different for every person, so we should all support others’ passions.”
After graduation, she was asked what she always dreamed of doing. Working at the White House may seem like a stretch, but that was one. She applied for an internship there against thousands of other applicants – and got it.
“It changed my whole perspective on government,” she said of her three-month internship. “Every small thing is important, even in a small office.”
One day she was with a group of interns looking on as President Donald Trump boarded a plane.
“He came over and shook our hands individually and thanked us for our internship,” she said. “That was something that we never expected. Getting to meet the president of the U.S., no matter who the president is, is a huge honor.”
After her internship, Morrow got sick. Real sick. A lung infection forced her back home to heal for several months, with no job prospects and feeling stuck. Looking back, she considered it a divine moment when she could reflect – and when God led her to another opportunity.
She landed an internship in McSally’s office last May, and by November she was offered a full-time job. She helps with office duties and handles constituent services, such as tours.
Morrow remembers the feelings she had while visiting Washington as a high school student: “I just picture those people in that same place. People often only come to Washington, D.C., once in their life, and a tour means so much to them. And I have the opportunity to set the impression of the senator through me. So many of these people are from my state, so it’s even more important to serve them well.”
Other times, visitors have an agenda or a complaint. That’s when she calls on her years at GCU. She said she tries to speak with them with “a level head and a kind heart, and even if they are speaking to me inappropriately, I don’t need to speak back in way to match their level. I can be kind.”
Every day, she sees important senators walking the halls, only later to see them on television that night.
“Something I have learned working in the White House and Senate is that we hold politicians to higher standards, to this nonhuman standard. We expect them to be perfect in everything they do and say,” she said. “We hold them to the idea that they can never make a mistake, and if they do they are sacrificed in the media.
“If we have more grace toward politicians, we would be a better nation. We should not hate people because they have a different opinion than you. That is what I have learned from being here.
“There are so many opportunities to show grace and kindness to each other, and that’s the impact.”
You can see why Mueller clearly remembered meeting Morrow.
And why one day she hopes to return to her home state and teach, bringing the experiences of working in government back to children – with a dose of kindness she picked up at GCU.
“GCU is one of those really special places that changed my life, through the people I met, peers and full-time staff, and this overwhelming feeling that people are trying to help others. You don’t see that in Washington, where people are vying for the next position, the next promotion, the next job. At GCU, people said they are here for you, they love you and will help you in any way.”
Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.
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