Graduate found a way to tune into GCU community
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Jacob Norgord’s experience at Grand Canyon University is instructive for students who will be coming to campus this fall and beyond.
And this famous phrase from maybe the greatest baseball movie of all time, “Field of Dreams,” pretty much sums it up:
If you build it, they will come.
At GCU, the “it” factor is community. It is central to everything that happens on campus, from spiritual life to residence life to events to clubs to academics to intramurals to just about anything else students do.
“The community is so tight-knit, and everyone is so genuine,” Norgord said.
It gave him a lot to contemplate Monday afternoon as he took part in Spring Commencement. He received more than a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance. Over the last 2½ years, he received an education in what it means to truly be part of something big.
After starting his higher education journey at a community college, Norgord arrived at GCU in January 2019 eager to meet people. Sure, he knew some students from his hometown of Murrieta, California, but he wanted to get involved on campus.
Much to his surprise, there wasn’t a music club, and Norgord loves, loves, loves music. Sitting in his marketing class the first week of school, he overheard Harrison Bosma saying he, too, is passionate about tunes, so Norgord boldly walked up to him after class and said, “Hey, would you like to be the vice president of my club?”
“He ended up becoming one of the best friends I’ve made here,” Norgord said.
After spending the spring going through the protocols required to start a club, they took part in the club fair in the fall and signed up 125 people. The Music Curation and Creation Club was born.
“I said, ‘Wow, this is something a lot of people on campus are interested in, it seems like,’” Norgord remembered. “We started meeting all different types of people – people who produce music, people who play different instruments. It was a really cool way for people to connect to each other, discover music and discover other musicians on campus.”
You might wonder what a music club would do in meetings. Funny thing – that’s the question Norgord gets the most from interested students. The answer:
“We break up into small groups, talk about music we might be working on,” he said. “It’s very free and open. We started closed, like, ‘Oh, this is what we’re going to talk about today.’ But now it’s just open, hang out, a social thing. We’ll talk about music we’re listening to, maybe new stuff that’s been released, stuff we’re into.”
And if someone shares a track they’re working on, someone else invariably wants to help with it. There’s that community at work again.
Not even the pandemic could prevent the collaboration that keeps a club of this nature in tune. Even though they could have a small number of people in the Fine Arts Building classroom where they meet, they still created a competition where people created music and they picked the best entries, which then were performed at a recent event.
Norgord’s love of music goes back to when, as a small child, his mother put headphones on him and had him listen to “Drops of Jupiter” by Train.
“That was my first favorite song,” he said.
Now his all-time favorite is “White Ferrari” by Frank Ocean, whom Norgord calls “the greatest artist of all time” even though he’s “a pretty mysterious dude.”
Norgord so enjoyed getting involved in campus life, he created the Our Community social network for students, then entered the Canyon Challenge entrepreneurial competition this spring and made the top five.
The idea of Our Community is to bring students together based on where they live on campus, their majors, what classes they’re in, whatever. It’s needed for 18- to 25-year-olds: Numerous studies have concluded that they make up the loneliest generation in America. Social media just isn’t social enough.
“We’re all trying to connect to other people,” Norgord said, “but it’s not working because it’s not genuine human connection.”
He hopes to use his finance degree to go into real estate and create communities where people can connect the way they do in college – and especially the way they do at GCU.
Norgord will miss that. He will miss the Music Curation and Creation Club, of course. (Bosma will take over as president.) He will miss playing flag football. He will miss the basketball games − he’s a big football fan and originally wanted to attend a college that has a football team, but the atmosphere at GCU basketball games won him over.
And, of course, he will miss the community. But not just the community on campus.
“I love how we make an effort to really reach out to the community around us,” he said. “It’s something that really has made me take pride. I feel like GCU is the first time I’ve taken pride in something I’ve been a part of, school-wise. It’s just something you can really get behind.
“At GCU, you can see the money get re-invested, not only in our school but in our community.”
And to think that it all started with one bold move after a marketing class. If you build it, they will come. GCU is another Field of Dreams, and it’s a diamond that also shines bright.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].
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