Move-In is a moving experience for everyone

By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau

What is Move-In at Grand Canyon University?

Arriving students and their parents are greeted by cheering, screaming volunteers at Move-In. (Photo by Slaven Gujic)

It is, first and foremost, an experience like no other, befitting a university that created a basketball game experience like no other.

“It just shows how amazing our culture is,” Havocs President Karsten Kem said Monday morning as he surveyed the scene of student volunteers.

It is the welcoming chants of the volunteers beginning to echo across campus ... a little after 6 a.m.

A long line of cars already had formed. Dr. Tim Griffin, GCU's Pastor and Dean of Students, took particular joy in watching the sleepy faces of the arriving students and parents turn bright as they got a first look at the spirited sights and sounds. “They were beaming,” he said.

It is being the first car in line – and what it takes to grab that honor. This year the winners were the Gardners, who left their Los Angeles home at 10:30 p.m. Sunday and arrived on campus at 3:50 a.m.

You want to talk dedication? Malik Gardner’s dad, John Michael Sr., got off work at 9 p.m. Good thing John Michael Jr. was able to drive.

Volunteers were everywhere as the cars arrived. (Photo by Travis Neely)

It is an experience that whets the appetite of the incoming students. Griffin told the story of a freshman last year who was dropped off outside the gates and had to be brought in via golf cart.

Then he got a look at the Move-In scene. Even though he really wasn’t getting to fully experience it, he said without hesitation, “I want to do that next year.”

It is a student arriving in similar fashion Monday. No problem. Volunteers quickly descended upon the cart, asked the student’s name and got him where he needed to go.

Hang around the volunteers long enough, and you hear dozens of conversations just like this: “Hi! Welcome to GCU! What’s your name? Where are you from? You’re going to love it here …”

It is moms high-fiving the volunteers and dads with hands off the steering wheel doing a double Lopes Up. One parent brought candy and threw it out the window.

No box is too big for the volunteers. (Photo by Slaven Gujic)

No matter how many times you witness this, there’s something about it that’s electrifying. People are drawn to happiness.

It is parents taking videos of the scene as they walk in after parking their now empty cars.

They saw the craziness as they drove through it (and took a video then), but now they want it from another angle. Pieces of classic art don’t get this kind of attention.

It is a mom yelling out, “You guys are live on Facebook! My daughter’s name is Cameron!”

“Hi, Cameron!” the volunteers shout back.

It is the volunteers singing and clapping along as “This Is Amazing Grace” blares over the loudspeakers. They know all the words.

Safe to say that’s not a scene that plays out across other college campuses too often. Like ever.

It is a crowd of volunteers so thick, it looks like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as the cars move through.

The students are at least three deep on each side. Before the week is over, 1,500 will work the 7 a.m.-1 p.m. shift. Some will do it every day, just because they like it.

It is an attitude.

You never quite know what you're going to see at Move-In. (Photo by Slaven Gujic)

As senior Peter King, a resident advisor, put it, “It’s really a great chance to honor and serve.”

It is an experience enjoyed by student-athletes, too. Coach Ann Pierson was out there with her softball team, but she remembers the days when GCU had only two residence halls and athletes were the only ones who moved everything in – it was part of their summer training.

“It’s nice to see so many people involved now,” she said.

It is, on this morning, a time to be careful because the solar eclipse started right in the middle of Move-In. The volunteers were warned at orientation Sunday to not look at the sun.

But then a cloud cover moved in right along with the arriving students, obscuring the eclipse for long stretches. It created an odd-looking haze – and welcome relief for the volunteers. “You’ve got to pace yourself,” King said.

It is a new beginning, one the volunteers look forward to with such intensity, they have trouble sleeping the night before.

“There’s nothing like it,” Griffin said after high-fiving a bunch of them. “The kids are phenomenal. I get choked up even thinking about it.”

That’s what Move-In is. It is amazing.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


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GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

David said to Michal, "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when He appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel — I will celebrate before the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:21)

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