International travel a welcome departure for GCU alumni

Jannael Larrabee, a 2020 GCU alumna, at the Eiffel Tower in Paris on a trip offered by the Office of Alumni Relations.

Alumni Relations also offers subscription box program

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally appeared in the April issue of GCU Magazine. Read the digital version here.

It all started with a prayer journal entry that Grand Canyon University alumna Jannael Larrabee wrote her senior year of college.

She dreamed of visiting Greece; now, she doesn’t have to dream.

Her prayer was answered in an email from GCU’s Office of Alumni Relations about a new international travel program.

It is one of two initiatives the department introduced this year to keep alumni connected to the University, along with the GCU Alumni Subscription Box program.

That email Larrabee received was all the confirmation she needed.

“I always prayed,” the 2020 psychology graduate said, about an opportunity to go to Greece. “… I looked at tickets but planning on your own gets expensive.”

Larrabee visited nine European countries in nine days.

The affordability of group travel with GCU made the trip possible.

Larrabee will be heading on the 11-day tour at the outset of summer to Mykonos, Paros, Santorini, Ios and Athens.

It won’t be Larrabee’s first experience traveling alongside fellow GCU alumni. She returned in February from the first international trip that Alumni Relations offered through GCU partner Contiki Travel. Contiki also works with the Honors College for other University travel opportunities.

Larrabee traversed nine countries in nine days as part of a package to Europe. She floated down the Venice canals and soaked up stunning views of the Eiffel Tower illuminated at night.

Four trips this year are being offered to alumni through the Office of Alumni Relations, two for alumni ages 18-35 and two open to alumni of any age, with options to visit Egypt, Ireland and Italy in addition to Europe and Greece.

Two trips also are being planned for graduating seniors who are transitioning into their alumni years.

A stop at London's Big Ben was a must.

Recent graduate and Student Program Specialist Lexi Noble and Marketing and Communications Specialist Lauren Sperbeck understand the fear of the unknown that follows graduation. They aspire to ease the transition from student to alumnus, and the international travel initiative is one way to do that.

“It’s a way to kick off their career and our way of saying, ‘Thank you for being here for four years,’ said Noble. “It allows them the opportunity to experience life and create memories before they hit the ground running into adulthood.”

Seventeen alumni jaunted to Europe in February, and by mid March, almost 80 signed up for future travel.

Because of the phenomenal response, one additional senior trip was added to the roster of international flights to accommodate all who were interested.

Larrabee takes in the sights in Germany.

The program not only exceeded the expectations of the Alumni Relations Office, but it exceeded Larrabee’s expectations, too.

She’s looking forward to Greece, the second trip she’ll take with GCU alumni in just a three-month span: “I’m really looking forward to a good thing,” she said. “A God thing.”

GCU at your doorstep

Another good thing the Office of Alumni Relations introduced this year is the GCU Alumni Subscription Boxes initiative.

The boxes, delivered to alumni’s doorsteps, contain retail and promotional items mailed each season.

For winter, expect a decorative ornament and other holiday seasonal items; for summer, a beach towel and beach ball might be included in the box.

“We are trying to bring GCU to them,” said Sperbeck. “It’s one thing to have a T-shirt, but it’s another thing to have an exclusive seasonal item. We do the shopping for them, allowing us to have a more personal touch.”

Noble added, “Alumni are always asking us for GCU swag.” The subscription boxes seemed like a good way to do that. “… Subscription boxes are super trendy right now, and we’re just trying to keep up with the times and what our alumni are interested in.”

A foundational aspect of the department’s structure is to establish itself as a resource for alumni and continue to strengthen that bond after they toss their tassels from right to left on graduation day.

“GCU was such a resource for them during their four years of getting their degree and getting through their first chunk of adulthood,” said Sperbeck. “We want to be seen as that resource moving forward and show our alumni that they can rely on us.”

Information on GCU alumni travel: Click here.

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