Her job shows how SIS scholarship program works
By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau
After she graduated last spring, Jazmin Miguel called Grand Canyon University “a place of miracles and hope.”
Miguel arrived at GCU four years ago with plenty of hope. She was a member of the first group of Students Inspiring Students (SIS) scholarship recipients, bright neighborhood students who once thought a college education was outside their families’ means and the good jobs that derive from it a dream.
But it was no miracle last month when Miguel landed one of those jobs – social media marketing assistant for Faith Christian Center in Phoenix – because she did the work.
She used all the tools available to GCU students through Academic and Career Excellence (ACE), which doesn’t stop with helping students navigate their education — it also assists them in finding jobs after they graduate.
Makayla Griffin, an ACE advisor, worked with Miguel to hone her resume and encouraged her to keep applying and pushing, even as the global pandemic dimmed her hope.
“That is so powerful,” she said, “to help them move forward and start their life after GCU, to be employed and cover their bills and make sure they can live a comfortable life while pursing something they have a passion for.”
Miguel said her family was ecstatic.
“There was a lot of pressure because I was the first college graduate. They were all spying on me, wondering what my next step would be,” she said. “They were excited when I got a job at a church and it wasn’t just any kind of business.”
Miguel reflected on how far she had come since her years at Carl Hayden Community High School, when she heard about GCU and the scholarship and considered it “an answered prayer.” The SIS scholarship has helped hundreds of west Phoenix students who are accomplished but don’t have the means to attend college.
It wasn’t easy. At first, she got lost finding her classes, didn’t know how to use a laptop and had to work 40 hours a week while attending school so she could buy a car to get to campus and her job.
But among other SIS recipients, she soon started to engage. She joined student groups and helped form them. She tutored students in the Learning Lounge. And she learned from the Honors College how to network and “show your personality.”
She connected with ACE and Strategic Employer Initiatives & Internships (SEI) to land student employment opportunities and learn of career fairs and employer events.
“Our department (SEI) offers numerous opportunities for students to connect directly with employers. Jazmin used her available resources, and she is a fantastic example of what other students should be doing to transition as well as she did,” said Aysha Bell, Director of Employer Relations & Recruitment Services.
After Miguel graduated with a degree in Entrepreneurial Studies, the work she had done with Griffin kicked into another gear.
“A lot of people when you graduate say, ‘Congratulations, goodbye,’ but at GCU they say, ‘What are your goals?’ Especially during a pandemic, that was helpful,” Miguel said. “Makayla would send jobs my way. She was on me to keep pushing.”
Griffin said she was able to help tailor Miguel’s resume to her career goals and followed up with her throughout the spring and summer to help her look for opportunities.
ACE staff members help students build their career portfolios and professional skills while getting them connected with job opportunities through Career Connections. Sometimes, they just need a little coaching on the value of networking or attending career fairs, said Marette Hahn, ACE Director.
“Our ACE Advisors will work with students to identify where they need to grow or improve in order to put their best foot forward, including conducting mock interviews, practicing elevator speeches, polishing up their resume or profile or educating students on conducting research,” she said.
Miguel used those resources to find an unpaid internship at Phoenix Faith Center, and immediately her GCU training emerged. She had learned to be visible and interested, so she attended conferences and meetings even when it wasn’t expected of an intern.
That led to a full-time job in July, which delighted SIS Program Manager Megan Serafini, who had seen her grow during her years at GCU and became a close ally.
“I knew once she got her foot in the door, any company would be impressed,” she said. “Seeing our SIS students land a career really speaks to the heart of the scholarship program. Most of these students didn’t see college as an option, and thanks to GCU, they are employed and working in the neighborhood community. SIS is all about the cycle of giving back, and that is exactly what our graduates intend to do.”
Serafini said many of the first crop of SIS recipients – 50 that have graduated in the past year – have landed jobs or gone on to graduate studies.
Miguel not only has a full-time job but is also pursuing a longtime dream of owning her own business. Last week, she put in a limited liability corporation application for her company, “Sticking With God” — she sells stickers that she created with messages of Christian inspiration that target students.
Her job at the church has been especially meaningful. Miguel is using social media to aid the church’s goal of increasing prayer among church members because many can’t attend church now. She also does graphic design, writes blogs and monitors Facebook comments.
One woman who recently posted was asking for prayer for her family because every member had tested positive for COVID-19.
“Some of them are sick and about to die; they are saying their last words,” Miguel said. “They are still holding on to hope and are asking for prayer. During these times, it is very important.”
Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.