By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau
The opening of a Graduate Programs Office on Thursday represented the start of a bright future for Grand Canyon University graduate program counselors.
A handful of University counselors sported their purple GCU shirts, set up tables and chairs and welcomed students. The grand opening was held just outside Canyon Hall and provided students with pizza, an opportunity to connect with university counselors in various degree programs, and access to several freebies.
Salwa Mata, a university counselor in the College of Theology, said, “Finishing your bachelor’s degree is a big feat, but we do want students to know that there are many master’s programs. I love that I am with students from the day they request information to the day they graduate.”
Brett Mitnick, Regional Director of Operations, said the day was a celebration that aimed to increase awareness of and facilitate access to graduate programs.
The new office space, located inside Canyon Hall, will give ground students an opportunity to visit and meet with a graduate program counselor.
“At the end of each semester we do classroom visits and we talk about graduate programs. What we found was that a lot of students didn’t know about admission requirements, didn’t know about costs or that you could take one class at a time and you could be done in 18 months,” Mitnick said. “So we needed to reorganize and provide a place on campus that they could go in and out of with questions that need to be answered.”
Mitnick also shared his appreciation for GCU’s vision to continue to prepare students for careers.
“We have university counselors that are educated and have an in-depth knowledge of what students need to do to prepare to get into a degree as well as what to expect,” he said.
“They are a support mechanism, they help with organization and make suggestions on time management – they are like a life coach to a lot of these students.”
Mata, also former GCU student, shared her passion for the University.
“As a student I really liked the positive environment, and ... I wasn’t ready to leave that environment,” she said.
Mata said her day is spent contacting at least 15 potential students and creating a plan to help them meet their needs and goals in life.
She added, “Sometimes they have bad days and have no motivation to do their homework, and I am able to say, ‘Hey! Remember you wanted this degree so you could be a full-time youth pastor at your church! You need this degree and you have to do this assignment even though you don’t want to today.”
Mata’s role as a university counselor is becoming increasingly popular for recent graduates at GCU because they are familiar with the campus and hold a servant-leadership mindset that is significant to GCU, Mitnick said.
According to Mitnick, GCU has 1,070 university counselors who service graduate programs.
“It’s great to see how GCU has grown to the point that we have so many future grads and recent grads who are furthering their education. That’s exciting, and we only see this department growing,” he said.
The Graduate Programs Office will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
To the students, Mitnick said, “Do not assume anything about a master’s or graduate degree. Come meet with a counselor because there are choices you can make now that can positively affect your next step.”
Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or [email protected].