My LopeLife: Cardon Center grows confidence, faith

Lindsey Eaton is one of the students who joined the L.O.P.E.S. Academy at the Cardon Center when it opened last fall. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Editor’s note: Reprinted from the November 2021 issue of GCU Magazine. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here. ... Lindsey Eaton, 27, attends Grand Canyon University’s L.O.P.E.S. Academy at the Cardon Center, which opened in September. She has autism but says, “It doesn’t stop me from achieving my dreams. I live independently. I have graduated from the First Place Transition Academy through GateWay Community College. I also have spoken at my high school’s graduation ceremony.”   

By Lindsey Eaton
Special to GCU Magazine

I remember watching my sisters go to college and graduate with degrees and get jobs. I wanted to go to college to advance my career and prayed to God, asking Him to reveal His plan for my life, personally and professionally.

I watched and waited. Most of my friends even went to college and graduated.

Then a few months ago, I began college as a student at the L.O.P.E.S. Academy at the Cardon Center program at Grand Canyon University. I found out about the L.O.P.E.S. Academy program through First Place-Phoenix, where I live.

Lindsey Eaton (center) arrives on campus for the first day of classes, accompanied by Dr. Heidi Boldway (left), Assistant Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and classmate Michaela Lilly. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

I was excited to enroll but also nervous because I didn’t know what college would be like. I was so excited to get accepted, I told friends and family. They were ecstatic for me.

Orientation week was fun. We completed campus scavenger hunts and learned more about each other by playing a game of “Find Someone Who.”

One of the best parts of L.O.P.E.S. Academy is that we have Buddies who help us explore campus life. My Buddy is Jayden Orr. She and I enjoy eating lunch on campus and talking about pets, life and work.

Jayden and I attend meetings for the Honors College Student Advisory Board and College to Corporate. These workshops are so relevant – they are about topics such as developing relationships at work and the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion there.

After just one semester of classes and small workshops through L.O.P.E.S. Academy, I have grown immensely. One of our first classes was about finding our strengths and getting connected with each other. I discovered my top strengths were fundraising, interacting with other people through building relationships, and being reliable and dependable.

I also have learned how to deal with change, communicate with management at work and review hazards that can come up at work, home and in the community. In workshops, we have discussed how to keep communication professional, how to respect boundaries and how to set SMART goals.

I’m excited for our class about leadership and customer service because it is a topic I am passionate about professionally. I often read books by leadership experts, such as Brené Brown, John Maxwell and Dale Carnegie, and try to apply their principles to my professional and personal life.

I always have had a great relationship with God, although sometimes my faith has hit rock bottom – I questioned God’s judgment and had a “masked up” look after God closed certain doors in my life.

But since attending GCU, my faith journey has grown immensely. A highlight of my time so far is attending Chapel on Mondays with fellow GCU students. The music played is powerful, and I really love the messages shared by pastors.

One of those messages was about the fact that God wants us to acknowledge Him and spend time with Him. This message was powerful, considering that sometimes I can walk away from God if He doesn’t answer my prayer requests right away.

Every night now, I spend time praying to God for requests and people I know and quietly listening to Him. I am praying for God to reveal His plan for my life, including my employment and personal life.

I live independently at First Place-Phoenix, an apartment complex for people with autism and other special abilities. We go bowling and attend events such as Zoo Lights at the Phoenix Zoo and GCU basketball games, and we go to dinner as a group.

I also have the opportunity to meet weekly with the staff there.

I work at a local assisted living facility as a server and help our culinary team with busing tables, refilling water containers with ice and water, and serving residents food. I am thankful for the connections I have with co-workers, my manager and my mentor, Nicolle.

The conversations I have with residents are amazing and unforgettable. We talk about life and pets. I also have an amazing boyfriend, Adam, who loves me unconditionally. We go to sports events and dinner together.

I am still discovering my top interests. Some of them include planning activities, blogging and answering phones. When I am not in school or working, I update my blog, “Inclusion and More,” where I write about my experiences with autism and the best inclusion practices.

I also maintain a website, lindseyceaton.com, for interested employers and friends and family to learn more about me. I am active on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

When I think about my future, I am excited about what God has in store for me personally and professionally. I am excited for the opportunity to gain an internship on GCU’s campus that fits my interests and strengths toward the end of my participation in the L.O.P.E.S. Academy.–

****

ABOUT LINDSEY EATON

Lindsey Eaton enjoys attending concerts and sports events and watching TV shows, especially “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” and “Restaurant: Impossible.” Her favorite movies are “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Shrek” and “Elf.” Her favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

****

Related content:

GCU Magazine: Cardon Center accents possibilities, not disabilities

GCU Today: New participants sing praises of L.O.P.E.S. Academy

GCU Today: L.O.P.E.S. Academy students connect with Buddies

GCU Today: Slideshow: L.O.P.E.S. Academy at Cardon Center opens

Calendar

Calendar of Events

M Mon

T Tue

W Wed

T Thu

F Fri

S Sat

S Sun

4 events,

3 events,

2 events,

3 events,

1 event,

3 events,

6 events,

Integrity Week

Integrity Week

4 events,

3 events,

7 events,

6 events,

5 events,

3 events,

5 events,

5 events,

4 events,

6 events,

5 events,

2 events,

4 events,

4 events,

6 events,

5 events,

5 events,

7 events,

3 events,

8 events,

5 events,

5 events,

3 events,

5 events,

5 events,

3 events,

Chapel

Chapel

GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he? (Isaiah 2:22)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/