By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
The final Grand Canyon University curtain call came for Brandon Brown, Christian Bradford and Tyler Sorrels as they completed their last walk across a GCU stage – the Commencement stage.
Seated among their College of Fine Arts and Production peers before Monday afternoon’s ceremony, the theatre graduates reflected on how far they had come as both individuals as well as in the theatre community.
“I’m very excited for this group (of graduates) in particular because we’re really close,” Sorrels said. “We’re a very tight-knit group, so much so that we all planned to get here at the same time so that we could take up one big row and sit on Dean (Claude) Pensis’ side of the stage. I’m upset about leaving this group behind, but I think we also support each other really well into the next steps.”
Having the opportunity to celebrate with an in-person commencement allowed Brown, Bradford and Sorrel to invite two loved ones apiece to cheer them on as they accepted their diploma sleeves. It’s an opportunity that Brown said he couldn’t be more thankful for.
“I feel extremely grateful that GCU is doing this for us,” he said. “It’s really awesome that they’re allowing us to do this, and I feel like they’re being really safe about it. I know we’re really fortunate because not everywhere gets this privilege.”
For Bradford, it was especially meaningful, since family members from his home in California could come to campus to witness the celebration.
“It’s an important ceremony and it’s an important moment in people’s lives, and I’m glad that we get to experience it,” he said.
In addition to the excitement that stems from their own graduation, the three each expressed the added excitement of getting to welcome home some of their 2020 graduate peers for Tuesday afternoon’s ceremony.
“It really warmed my heart knowing that a couple of all of our friends from last year who opted not to walk or didn’t get to graduate (with a ceremony) last year are able to come back this year and have the opportunity to walk,” Bradford said. “I’m glad they’ll get to experience that.”
With the toll that the pandemic has taken on the entertainment industry, post-graduation life will look especially unique for the aspiring performers. But the uncertainty hasn’t stopped them from formulating a game plan for their future.
Brown, who has been taking on acting gigs for the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions in standardized patient videos, plans to continue working with the college. As theatres in the valley continue to reopen, he hopes to perform there before one day moving to the East Coast.
Like Brown, Bradford has plans of jumping into the industry after moving back home for the summer. From there he hopes to find acting opportunities in the Phoenix area or make the move to Atlanta, a popular landing spot for the entertainment industry in recent years.
Sorrels, who will also be graduating with a minor in communication, plans to spend the summer completing his last two classes to complete his minor and receive his diploma in August. In the fall he hopes to make the move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film acting.
Now that their time as GCU undergraduate students has ended, Brown, Bradford and Sorrels summed up their experiences with three simple, but incredibly meaningful words.
Each of their GCU journeys presented them with a lifetime of memories as well as a fair share of challenges, but as they prepared to take those final few steps on a GCU stage it became crystal clear that God had a plan for each of them when He brought them to the University.
“Sometimes it feels like you’re not in the right place in life and you haven’t been making the right choices, but it’s very refreshing to know that here I felt surrounded by a group of people who cared about me and that were willing to make mistakes and help each other grow,” Brown said. “It just felt like the right move. Looking back, now I can see this was exactly where I needed to be with this group of people.
“I’m really grateful for that.”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].
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