By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
At one end of the Grand Canyon University Arena floor stood Mark Young, just nine months removed from his GCU commencement ceremony and now recruiting students for his accounting firm, Henry+Horne.
Way down the row was Kristen Conway, a 2008 GCU alumna taking names and resumes for her company, Heinfeld Meech.
Eight-year difference, a lifetime in what has happened at the University. But they still had something very much in common – an appreciation for what they learned while on campus and a strong desire to share their view – as they and several other alumni participated in the annual Meet the Firms event, sponsored by the Colangelo College of Business (CCOB).
“I love it here,” said Young, who still attends soccer games and has basketball season tickets, has a GCU banner above his desk and talks openly about the “awesomeness” of the campus. “I’m excited to be an alumni of GCU.”
“I always tell students here,” Conway said, “that I’m an alumnus and about how the program has grown and how successful you can be out there with a Grand Canyon University degree.”
All around them were hundreds of students eager to earn externships, internships and future job opportunities. A year ago, Young was one of them.
“Being here on this side of it is a lot more relaxing,” he admitted. “But I love that I can use my knowledge and invest it into students who don’t have any idea what they’re going into or what they should be going into.
“I can give them first-hand experience, saying, ‘Hey, this is what I was looking for. This is what I knew I wanted to do.’ I’m able to give them that insight into the dynamic of what I’ve learned pre-graduation and post-graduation.”
When Conway was on campus, she was one of only six accounting majors. They would all take the same classes, and they had one instructor – Associate Professor Dr. Donna DeMilia, now the lead accounting faculty member. Monday’s event was a reunion of sorts for her and both returning graduates.
“It’s so exciting because it lets me know that what we were doing when they were in school was beneficial to them,” DeMilia said. “Not only do I know that we set them off right on their career path, but also that they thought enough of our program that they would come back and recruit here.”
Conway hadn’t been on campus for eight years before attending a Casting Crowns concert in the Arena last year. Naturally, she was blown away by how much it had changed in that short time. It was one thing to watch the University’s growth from afar, but it was quite another to see it first-hand.
“It’s incredible to see what it is today,” she said.
Monday’s event reflected that sentiment. There were 38 firms in attendance, more than double last year, when they all fit in the Arena foyer. The number of students was about double as well, according to Assistant Professor Kelly Damron, the principal organizer of the event.
Even though the Arena floor is a much bigger space, there often were lines to meet with recruiters. These are big-name firms that recruit all over the country, but Young said the stature of the CCOB program has grown to such a degree that “it’s almost as if GCU is the name brand of Phoenix.”
Just ask its alumni.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].