Preparation pays off with many happy returns

Shelly Schrimpf of the Lope Shop is delighted to have the students back on campus. After all, they ARE the community.

Photos by Ralph Freso

The Welcome Week tunes that waft out of loudspeakers across the Grand Canyon University campus are a reminder that the first day of Move-In is like beautiful music to the people who prepare all summer for the students’ return.

“We have a great community here at GCU,” said Shelly Schrimpf, Assistant Director of Campus Retail and Licensing, as workers in the Lope Shop prepared for the onslaught of customers. “The summers are long because the community is not here. But when the community is back – the students are the heart of our community, so when they’re back, there’s nothing like it.

“I’ve been in this business 23 years, I’ve been on a ton of campuses during move-in week, and there is nothing like GCU. There’s just not.”

Schrimpf keeps the Lope Shop shelves stocked and its staff stoked, “so anybody who walks in has a good shopping experience.” You might say the resident directors at GCU’s 29 residence halls do the same for their customers – the students who live in their buildings.

Resident director Juliana Rivera is eager to set the culture at the new Oak Creek Apartments.

Two of them had to handle an extra complication this summer: Their buildings are new, which means they had to be completed and furnished before serious preparations could begin.

“Once it was, ‘OK, now you can move in,’ it was a fast rush to get things ready to go,” said Juliana Rivera, the RD at Oak Creek Apartments, on 29th Avenue a couple hundred feet north of Camelback Road.

But Rivera, the RD at Juniper Hall the last two years, looks at her new role as a blessing.

“It’s exciting because the staff this year gets to set the culture for Oak Creek’s life,” she said.

Turquoise Apartments resident director Kailey Molina welcomes a student to campus.

The other new apartment building, Turquoise, sits next to Diamondback, a hub of activity in that area with its GCBC and Chick-fil-A. Turquoise RD Kailey Molina said it went “really smooth” although the last week was “pedal to the metal.”

After earning her education degree from GCU in 2018 and teaching for a few years, Molina returned last year to be the RD at Ocotillo Hall. “I never thought I’d be back, and here I am. I am so thankful,” she said.

It's a good thing Molina got the Turquoise job -- it's her favorite color.

And when RD’s were asked their preferences at the end of the academic year, she expressed a desire to open a new building. Lo and behold, she got Turquoise, with its vibrant blue accents on the outside of the building.

“It’s my favorite color!” she exclaimed. “My whole staff knew that last year.”

Before returning to GCU, Molina taught with Brittney Diatte, another College of Education alum who came back to be a resident director (she’s now pursuing a master’s degree). Diatte is entering her second year at Salt River Apartments, one of the three residence halls at The Rivers.

Not only does The Rivers have Panera Bread, a fitness facility, an arcade and a massive outlet for GCBC, the campus coffeehouse. It also has a pool that’s sure to attract plenty of students in the heat of the coming weeks.

“I think we’ll expect a lot more residents from main campus coming out this way,” Diatte said.

It's so impressive. It's a resort. And the kids are happy -- you can tell it.

Visiting mom Michelle Kroeker

Speaking of enthusiasm, it was evident everywhere Monday in the parents as well as the students. Two of those parents were John and Michelle Kroeker, proudly wearing their purple GCU shirts. Their daughter Kalli is new to the campus – she heard about it from friends and decided to transfer for her sophomore year.

It’s not the first time the Kroekers have seen GCU; they were here for another daughter’s golf tournament 10 years ago. (It’s grown just a wee bit since then.) But Move-In gave them a whole new view.

“Very impressed. Very efficient,” Michelle said. “And welcoming! Oh my goodness – the kids are so excited. It’s very welcoming, very good.

“We’ve seen the campus and love it. It’s so impressive. It’s a resort. And the kids are happy – you can tell it.”

So are the people welcoming them back.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


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