By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
The streets of downtown Phoenix had no shortage of music, family fun and Grand Canyon University pride Saturday as Honors College volunteers participated in their third annual service day. More than 150 Honors students volunteered across the Valley for multiple nonprofit organizations, with 110 of those students lending a helping hand at the third annual Phoenix Famtastical Festival.
“This is the most volunteers for this day ever and for this event,” Honors College Associate Dean Breanna Naegeli said.
Students from various areas of study manned concession stands, collected data, helped with setup and breakdown, took photos and videos, assisted with rides and even live streamed the event.
To help bring even more GCU spirit to the event, the Cheer team and Thunder were there as well. The Sports Medicine Club also volunteered its time, offering emergency medical support.
Kendall Smith, who is double majoring in film production and dance performance, put her camera knowledge to the test as she captured the event through photos and video.
“I enjoy telling stories through film and through photography,” Smith said. “Getting to combine my joys of photography and videography with volunteering and being with children and their families and supporting such a positive event is something that I’m really excited to do.”
The Famtastical Festival works alongside the Back-To-School Clothing Drive, which takes place every July at GCU, by raising money to supply children with the tools they need to start off the school year strong. Honors College students take pride in participating despite their busy schedules.
“I’m very surprised how many people came out today,” Smith said. “There’s three different shifts, and some people had to get up really early to get here, and just how enthusiastic they are even in the hot sun … I love that vibe that GCU Honors gives off.”
Freshman Camden Marasco and his Honors College's social media crew took over the festival’s Instagram stories and share the fun with viewers at home.
“I’ve been working with my team for weeks now to get this event happening, so to see GCU cheerleaders, GCU volunteers, Honors shirts all in the community has been really awesome to see,” Marasco said.
Only being a month into his college experience, what Marasco has seen within the Honors College has made him proud to be part of the largest group of incoming Honors freshmen.
“From what I’ve met, it’s a bunch of ambitious kids, world-changers who want to make a difference," he said. "With all these kids coming out just to spread smiles, spread love around the community, it’s been awesome to see.”
Several volunteers collected data from festival attendees to measure audience’s feedback. Sara Cordero was able to use her experience as a business major to assess what was being done right as well as what could be improved next year.
“I think it’s precious just having those human interactions with people and just bonding with people,” Cordero said. “It’s something I’m really passionate about.”
Cordero said the experience also allowed her to obtain real world experience in data analytics.
“It’s pretty interesting just to see how an event really truly affects a person,” she said. “It’s cool for a Business Management degree just to see everything kind of as a whole and understanding, ‘OK, if they don’t like this, how can we better it for them next year? You get to see the whole picture of what goes into an event and how the community actually perceives it.”
Carla Gentles, an organizer for the Phoenix Famtastical Festival, found that her organization's partnership with GCU has been increasingly beneficial. She thanked Naegeli and University Relationship Manager Debbie Accomazzo for their involvement and continued support.
“The students came out and they showed up,” Gentles said. “They really created a fantastic environment for our guests. They helped to create some memorable experiences, and it’s a good fit for us.
“GCU has been a great partnership for us.”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected]
GCU Today: Honors College keeps growing — and transforming
GCU Today: Honors banquet recognizes students’ achievements