Last in a series highlighting learners in the College of Doctoral Studies.
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University changed Erick Hester’s life as he knew it when he graduated with his master’s degree in Professional Counseling in 2018.
A job he had previously only dreamed of became a reality: He was hired as a mental health therapist in his home state of Indiana.
“That was made possible through GCU,” he said. “They guided me through that process.”
While completing his first residency in May, Hester got to see his alma mater as more than an online program — it's a powerful community of like-minded individuals.
“I had no idea it would be this much culture,” he said after seeing the campus for the first time. “It’s really diverse. That was an eye-opening experience for me, seeing people that look like me and everybody having the same spirit.”
That spirit helped give Hester an extra boost of motivation to show what he can do — to prove it to himself but also to others like him.
“I definitely have the motivation internally,” he said. “Just being a minority, I just don’t see too many people my age who go on to do that (pursue a doctoral degree). The fact that GCU has helped me through this entire process with the master’s, I just felt like if I came here, I knew I could get the help and assistance that I need to make sure that I get through.
“I was successful in my master’s, so I just wanted to challenge myself to go a step above what I already did.”
The decision to come to GCU was not hard for Hester. He's a big basketball fan and always keeps tabs on how GCU is doing. When he searched for an online program, it didn’t take long before Hester went all in and became a Lope himself.
He found that “Find your purpose” was more than just a slogan. Rather, it's a reality that led him to the field that's his passion. It was a leap of faith he believes can have a similar impact on others.
“If you don’t know what you want to do and you just come to GCU, I’m sure that with the counselors and the staff, they will help get you to doing something that you could see yourself having a future in,” he said. “I really recommend anyone stuck in limbo to give it a shot.”
Hester, the proud owner of a Chihuahua named Toaster, uses part of the University's name to describe his experience: grand.
“I’ve really enjoyed myself here throughout this process,” he said. “Dating back to my master’s, I couldn’t ask for a better university. It’s literally changed my life.”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].