Welcome Week's cool spirit beats the heat

Junior Bri Torgerson uses a mister bottle with a motorized fan to stay cool in the heat during Welcome Week. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Welcome Week 2022 came in fast and hot. Phoenix's average high temperature in August is 105 degrees, but several days were even hotter this year as Grand Canyon University officials did all they could to combat the heat.

“Beating the heat is a team effort,” said Welcome Programs Manager Alden Sia.

And who does that team include?

“Welcome Programs work really closely with Environmental Health and Safety, who works closely with the health clinic, who also works closely with EMT,” she said as she was radioed to give guests a lift across campus in a golf cart — one of many things she does to help people through the heat.

Sia estimated that GCU hands out around 100,000 mini water bottles to volunteers, guests and students during Welcome Week alone.

“Costco really comes in clutch for that,” she said.

Students try to stay cool in the heat during the Project L event at the GCU Skate Park. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Environmental Health and Safety plays an integral role in keeping the community safe.

Training to prevent heat-related illnesses stresses the responsibility for employee and student safety. Volunteers are educated on signs of heat stroke and actions that must be proceeded in order to treat those with heat stroke.

Environmental Health and Safety specialist Brian Aispuro is on guard as he goes around campus, prepared to help those who need assistance.

“I’m always looking out for signs of heat stress —especially when it looks like they’re red hot, which is one of many indications of heat stroke,” he said.

With a trained eye and golf cart full of refreshments, Aispuro stops at each booth offering employees, staff and guests a bottle of water, Gatorade and the campus favorite — Sqwincher Sqweeze pops containing electrolytes that are integral to hydration.

Like moths attracted to a flame, the golf cart is a magnet to students and volunteers seeking to cool down and grab a refreshment.

The Promenade had a new feature this week: large mister fans that pair a cool mist with a strong breeze from the rotating blades.

Student Affairs senior Mona Keomisy stays cool in front of a large swamp cooler fan as she works the Welcome Programs booth. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Student worker and volunteer Mona Keomisy said she can spot the relief on the faces of passersby from a mile away.

“I always tell them they are more than welcome to stand here or take a seat for a couple minutes,” said Keomisy. “I’m always like, ‘Come closer.’”

Members of the Havocs, one of the many clubs and programs handing out information and swag in tents along the Promenade this week, refused to let the heat beat them.

“We are so excited about welcoming in new students and all the events coming up,” said Havocs leader Greta Mannan. “When we feel very hot and tired, we remind ourselves that this is their first interaction with Welcome Week, which helps keeps us energetic and passionate.”

Sophomore Havoc Greta Mannan explains how she tries to stay cool in the heat. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Said Bri Torgerson, who saw Welcome Week through purple, heart-shaped glasses, “We definitely feed off of each other’s energy and are naturally just really pumped. We’re all in this together.”

One student volunteer looked as if she had just stepped out of the shower — because she had. Canyon Activities Board member Mirabella Platt took drastic measures to cool off and was left with dripping wet hair and a puddle of water wherever she went.

“During my 30-minute break, I walked to my apartment and stepped into the shower fully clothed. I walked outside sopping wet,” she said, her skin engulfed with goosebumps. “I’m good for another six hours out here.”

A student worker uses a cardboard box to protect her from the sun. (Photo courtesy of Alden Sia)

As GCU’s new mission statement says, the University is full of people with an "innovative and adaptive spirit." Sia witnessed a student worker actively practicing this spirit without even realizing it.

“Every time she drives around in the golf cart, she has an empty cardboard box that she holds over her head and repeatedly says, ‘I don’t want the sun to touch me.’”

But the sun is not the only force to be reckoned with. There are even greater threats — water guns.

“At the end of the day, the people who fill the tubs with water bottles take water guns and fill them with the melted ice, then drive around on golf carts squirting us with water,” said Havocs leader Luke Ellestad. “It’s a small but fun way of keeping us cool.”

It's all about not allowing the weather to get them down and keeping their mind on the mission.

“Being in the heat is worth it because of the impact spiritual life has on campus. This is not just a temporary impact — it has a lasting impact on a person internally,” said Student Life member Robert Sanchez. “The heat is worth bringing another person to the kingdom of God.”

It all goes back to a biblical principle.

“We all have to look out for each other — especially in this heat,” said Sia.

Contact staff writer Lydia P. Robles at 602-639-7665 or [email protected].

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Bible Verse

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:26)

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