Houston’s roles are an education in leadership

April 01, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

Havilah Houston has filled many roles at GCU, including President of TEDx-GCU, (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Editor’s note:

Reprinted from the April issue of GCU Magazine. To read the digital version of the magazine, click here.

Havilah Houston is President of TEDxGrandCanyonUniversity, which will stage its sixth annual event Friday, April 8, in GCU Arena. You can buy tickets here.

My LopeLife is a feature in which GCU students, staff and alumni share enlightening experiences. To be considered for My LopeLife, please email a short synopsis of your suggested topic to [email protected] with “My LopeLife” in the subject field.

By Havilah Houston
Special to GCU Magazine

From a private high school with a graduating class of fewer than 80, I was looking for a similar college experience.

Grand Canyon University was not on my radar. But by word of mouth, I came to campus on a Discover GCU trip and fell in love with the community. As I listened to my Discover host share stories of his experience, I knew I could find a home here.

The wide variety of opportunities on campus appealed to me. As someone who was actively involved in my high school, I was looking for ways to continue to serve the student body in my college career.

Upon arrival in the fall of 2018, I jumped into everything this hyperactive campus had to offer.

“Freshman year is the best year to try out everything and anything,” I had been told, and so I did – getting involved with Young Life, the Local Outreach ministry at Colter Commons, the Philippine American Student Association and Environmental Awareness Club and enjoying intramurals and Canyon Activities Board events.

I jumped into a student worker job my first semester and was further fascinated by the University, how it operates and all it has to offer. There was never a moment of boredom.

As a communications major, I looked for extracurriculars that would partner well with my degree program. I stumbled upon TEDxGrandCanyonUniversity, a nonprofit completely led by students who organize Arizona’s largest TEDx event.

I joined the TEDxGCU team as a speaker acquisition liaison, working with the speakers to create and curate their “TED talk” and prepare them for the main stage. This would be only the beginning of my involvement with TEDxGCU.

My freshman year was nothing short of an adventure in personal growth and development. I went on trips every weekend to hike, camp, cliff jump and enjoy everything Arizona has to offer.

My summer plans mirrored the adventure of freshman year. I worked as a camp counselor at Forest Home Christian Conference Center in California.

I got even more involved in GCU my sophomore year. I became a resident assistant, fell in love with the Residence Life community and lived in The Grove, the freshman housing complex in the northwest corner of campus, for three years. I loved how my student leadership position could be a place of ministry to those who lived around me.

With the hope of pursuing a multifaceted career in project management and entertainment, I looked for experiences that would marry well with my academics. TEDxGCU consistently fulfilled that desire. I became Director of Operations and, in my junior year, Vice President of Operations and Marketing. That helped me kickstart my career while still in my undergraduate program.

In my junior year, I switched to the Colangelo College of Business to study entrepreneurship. Little did I anticipate the opportunities this would unfold for me. Midyear, I took on the challenge of running for student body president. While I didn’t win the election, I still wanted to serve the campus in a broader capacity.

A few weeks later, one of the residents I mentored spiritually and academically approached me with the idea of starting a Women in Business Club. After eight months of development, it has turned into one of the largest clubs on campus this year and is now one of my biggest passion projects.

I have a heart for developing programming to further propel women in their careers but to also influence their lives through mentorship. Since its inception, the Women in Business Club has been a place that fosters training and development and, more importantly, a place of community for its more than 550 members.

The summer leading up to my senior year, I served on a short-term mission trip to Zambia with a team of GCU students. Shortly after that trip, I found myself on the Hawaiian island of Kauai working as an intern at a nonprofit. I never could have imagined having experiences like that before I came to GCU.

That was just the beginning of an even more jam-packed senior year. Taking on the role of President of TEDxGCU, I lead a team of 36 students, and as a life leader and Young Life leader, I keep ministry as a top priority. In a short few years, this campus has become my home, providing me with some of my most cherished memories and dearest friends.

Now I’m a tour guide, just like those who led me to GCU. I get to share with prospective students that while college is designed to propel you into your career, it is even more imperative to select a place that helps you become the person you want to be outside the classroom.

As graduation approaches, I am confident I chose the right university for me. GCU has helped turn me into the individual I am today.


Havilah Houston is a senior from San Diego and is graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship. She loves creating, painting, doing puzzles, and traveling and mission trips – she was born in the Philippines to missionary parents. As President of TEDxGCU, she will be onstage April 8 in GCU Arena for its sixth annual event.


Related content:

GCU Today: Catalyst propels high school students’ TEDx skills

GCU Today: TEDxGCU verifies students’ pandemic perseverance

GCU Today: New tradition suits GCU’s stylish TEDx production

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