Honors students tune into Colangelo’s wisdom
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
It’s no surprise to anyone who has listened to one of Jerry Colangelo’s talks that he carries with him one of the most inspiring stories in sports.
From growing up in a working-class family to establishing a career as a sports executive and entrepreneur, there is a lot to learn from the former Phoenix Suns owner.
Earlier this week, the Honors College hosted a question-and-answer session with Colangelo that provided students the opportunity to meet and learn from the namesake of the Colangelo College of Business (CCOB).
“I always appreciate the opportunity for our Honors students to meet and engage with prominent leaders from industry and those who have an extensive list of accomplishments, those who have tackled major feats and overcome challenges throughout their professional career,” said Honors College Associate Dean Dr. Breanna Naegeli. “Mr. Colangelo does a phenomenal job translating decades of experience into practical advice that can be applied as a young professional today.”
Despite being an event geared toward Honors students, Naegeli said it was made possible by the coordination and action from CCOB Dean Dr. Randy Gibb and Colangelo himself.
“They’ve always been exceptionally supportive and proactive in creating these opportunities for Honors students meet and learn from him directly,” she said.
Sharing his story and helping teach the next generation though both his successes and failures is as important for Colangelo as it is for the students he inspires.
“I look at it as a blessing for me to have the ability and opportunity to present to a bunch of students,” Colangelo said. “The whole purpose is so that they can learn from my story and my experiences as they prepare for life.
“I get encouraged being in front of them, and the questions they ask are so intuitive that it generates thought in my mind that makes me better. Deep down inside, I want to help them achieve what they can achieve in their own lives.”
The nearly one-hour session welcomed Colangelo Scholars, the Student Advisory Board and Honors students from any other program to attend.
International graduate student Chiti Nkhuwa attended the event because he wants to grow the athletics industry in Zambia, his home country.
“What I did find out from coming here was that there’s a lot of niche markets, a lot of unusual ways that you can tackle how to go about doing things, and if you strive to be unique, it will definitely make a difference,” he said. “I just really wanted to find out firsthand, from him, some of the unique stuff that he did.”
Another standout for Nkhuwa was seeing a prime example of the merging of faith and business.
“It’s very important to know successful Christians,” he said. “As believers, we don’t know a lot of successful Christians, so we believe that we need to compromise our faith in order to reach the top. So it was really nice to hear Mr. Colangelo speak so profoundly about his identity in Christ and how that contributed positively to his upward trajectory.”
Entrepreneurship sophomore Asher Cameron said Colangelo’s emphasis on relationship building was something he hopes to implement into his own life.
“I want to be able to tell cool stories, have cool experiences and just really meet a lot of people and have a lot of different relationships,” he said. “It kind of gives you a different perspective on life, of just being more people oriented.”
For business management juniors Andrew Jennings and Kaleb Clifford, hearing from Colangelo put into perspective how possible it is to find success.
Like Nkhuwa, hearing about his faith made it that much more real for Jennings.
“Even though he’s had so much success in his life, the most important thing to him still is Christ, still is his family,” he said. “It just shows a lot of times we just get so wrapped up in having financial and professional success but there are so many other things in life that we have to remember to balance.”
But what Clifford left with was the heart of Colangelo’s tale – perseverance.
“I think the biggest takeaway for me was that he came from pretty much nothing,” said Clifford. “So it doesn’t matter where you come from. As long as you put in that work, build relationships and just strive for success, you’ll be all right.”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].