Editor's note: This story is reprinted from the December issue of GCU Magazine. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here.
Story by Karen Fernau
Photos by Darryl Webb
Tatum Sorrelman sits alone on her dorm room floor, staring tearfully into a video camera while talking about her acute case of homesickness.
It’s her second week as a Grand Canyon University freshman, and it’s the second episode of “Finding Tatum’s Purpose,” a documentary by GCU.TV, a new digital video platform showcasing the University community.
Sorrelman talks bluntly about feeling alienated. “I’ve been having a hard time relating to anyone around me right now, because most of the people I am around, my roommates, people in my classes, aren’t really as upset about leaving home as I am. It is really hard not to have anybody to relate to.”
Thankfully, by the next episode Sorrelman tells a different story. In a segment that captures her smiling, rock climbing and volunteering, she shares her cure for knee-buckling homesickness: “It’s important to find people to surround yourself with, in college and in general, that have the same set of values and what you want out of life.”
Sorrelman, a business management major from Scottsdale, was selected for the documentary, which will chronicle in segments her four-year journey from freshman to graduation.
But her motivation was not to parlay GCU fame into a movie career. Instead, she hopes to help others.
“I felt it was my calling to share my story, to let others know about the stuff I am going through. By showing how I am dealing with college maybe will help someone else,” said Sorrelman, the first in her family to attend college.
She’s braced herself for criticism but is committed to being an open book.
At least once a week, or whenever something worthy occurs, Sorrelman sits in front of her camera and shares an experience, a joy, a fear, an emotion. A new video is posted monthly on GCU.TV.
As she nears graduation, GCU.TV plans to compile the segments into a documentary film.
Sorrelman is not the only star of GCU.TV. The station’s lineup features athletes, coaches and ministers, and coverage includes games, concerts, plays and other events, such as the weekly Chapel session.
“We are capturing a vibrant picture of GCU,” said Steven Niedzielski, GCU.TV associate producer.
The videos also show what can be difficult to explain.
“You can tell folks about a basketball game, but by watching it on TV they can see what I am talking about — the color, the excitement that you have to see to believe,” said Barry Buetel, GCU.TV executive producer.
Live sporting events are the bulk of the station’s programming, with 100 athletic competitions on track to broadcast this academic year.
The action-packed videos of both men’s and women’s sports reach a wide and distant audience. For example, viewers in 34 states and 50 countries watched the first men’s soccer game.
All games are broadcast live and archived on GCU.TV to allow viewers to watch in real time or later. They are shot with multiple cameras, instant replay, graphics and on-air talent.
One of GCU.TV’s early hits is “The Dan Majerle Show,” featuring the popular GCU men’s basketball coach. Another must-see sports program is “The GCU Lopes Report.”
The University has been broadcasting games and events for more than three years, but GCU.TV allows them for the first time to be warehoused together.
“GCU.TV is one-stop shopping for all our videos,” Buetel said.
Along with sports, GCU.TV captures the University’s spiritual commitment. On “Trending Faith,” Dr. Jason Hiles, dean of the College of Theology, and Dr. Tim Griffin, GCU pastor and dean of students, field questions about faith, God and Christian life.
Unable to attend Chapel? Watch it live or later on GCU.TV.
Buetel, Niedzielski and videographers Jake Jackson, Scott McDonald and Gina Sandoz work with 14 students to produce, edit and broadcast the programs.
For students, GCU.TV offers invaluable hands-on experience.
“It is hard work and heavy lifting, literally,” Niedzielski said. “If they mess up, it’s live.”
GCU.TV expects its videos to appeal to students (including the 60,000-plus enrolled online), parents, faculty, staff and alumni.
In addition, the videos educate those unfamiliar with all that GCU offers, from its hotel and 18-hole golf course to its concerts, plays, charitable projects and academic fields such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
GCU.TV also posts videos on YouTube and shares videos with other TV stations. In three years, the number of YouTube subscribers has increased from about 1,500 to 10,000.
“We are getting the word out to those who might not know what GCU is all about,” Buetel said. “We are showing the success, the values and the integrity of the University.”
Contact Karen Fernau at (602) 639-8344 or [email protected].