When going got tough, counselor kept him going
By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau
Graduates typically have a lot of people to thank upon exiting Grand Canyon University Arena to applause after Commencement.
Andrew Campbell singled out one person on Friday whom he’d never met in person.
“I feel so excited. God has placed so many great people in my life, like Annalit Crosby,” he said, beaming on the lawn outside the Arena after walking across the stage for his Master of Education in Elementary Education.
Crosby is a Student Services counselor at GCU. They are helpers and advisors for online students in everything from academics to financial questions and, it turns out, much more.
Campbell, of Westchester County, New York, is a pastor of The Holy Fire 7th Day Pentecostal Church, radio show host, teacher in a public school and has two children. She was there for Campbell when he was hitting the wall in his graduate program studies at GCU.
“I was broken down for a while, and I was going through a lot of emotional stuff,” the Jamaica native said.
This is what he remembers hearing on the other end of the line from Crosby: “Mr. Campbell, I believe you have great potential. Just take a little break and start back.”
He didn’t take a break, he said, because what he heard was empathy, someone who understood.
“She was like a mentor and a spiritual advisor,” he said. “And after that I started doing my classes, and by the end of the year I had better grades.”
Crosby has been there. In her undergraduate years, she worked and had children to care for.
“We have been through school and we can relate,” she said. “I know I haven’t been in the same situation exactly, but I can understand those feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated and seeing the end but not quite grasping it yet.”
Crosby said online students who often juggle so many responsibilities need understanding.
“At school, they see Andrew as a teacher. At home, they see Andrew as a father or husband. At college, they see Andrew as a student. We try to keep in mind the student is not just a student. They have all these other roles in their lives,” Crosby said.
“Validating them and being available for the students and saying, ‘That’s hard. You are right,’ and not just say ‘keep pushing’ is where we help students a lot.”
Campbell said Crosby called weekly to check on him. She sent Scriptures. She understood.
She also helped Campbell sort out what he needed per his state’s teaching certifications. But inspiration was also on the call.
“Reminding them of why they are going through their program is the best thing we can do,” she said.
Campbell dreams of one day having a doctorate and using those advanced skills to help children learn. But we all need reminders when it gets tough.
“When you get toward the end of the degree program, things get crazy and pile up,” Crosby said. “But one thing that transcends in a lot of successful students I work with is their willingness to push themselves to their limits, even when they don’t have to and could take a break they say, ‘Nope, I am going to finish.’ That is because they have that passion.”
And that’s how Campbell said he got to stand out in the Arizona sunshine for the first time in warm weather that reminded him of Jamaica.
“I realized she wasn’t just a counselor. She was my support. She was my mentor,” he said. “Without her there and my family praying, I don’t know if I would finish.
“I want to thank God for Annalit Crosby.”
Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.