Student, staff, faculty reflect on Independence Day

By Theresa Smith
GCU News Bureau

GCU student Travis Allen shows his patriotism at Lopes Performance Center.

In honor of Independence Day, a sampling of the Grand Canyon University community paused and reflected on what the Fourth of July means to them and how they will celebrate the holiday.


Name: Travis Allen

Position at GCU: Junior majoring in sports management

Background: Allen is living on campus this summer, working as co-head manager of the men’s basketball team with Bobby Jones.

What Fourth of July means to me: “It is our independence from Britain. It is also a celebration of all the accomplishments of the country through all its history. It is also a type of memorial kind of day. I know we have a separate day for that. But I think the Fourth of July is also the type of day when we come together to commemorate the ones who have fallen.’’

How I will celebrate: “I am going home to Wichita, Kansas, to be with my family and friends. We have a pool at our house, so we will spend most of the day at the pool. Then we will go to some land outside of the city, where we will shoot fireworks off, play some games and hang out."


Erin Boling will celebrate Independence Day with her husband, Tim, who is returning from a deployment in the Middle East.

Name: Erin Boling

Position at GCU: Academic Program Manager, Colangelo College of Business

Background: Boling started working at GCU as a student in 2010. She graduated in 2013 with a degree in Elementary Education and continued working at GCU except for a two-year stint when she lived on a base in Japan, where her husband, Tim, was stationed.  Tim, an E5 Airman in the Air Force, has been deployed to the Middle East the past six months.

What Fourth of July means to me: “It has always been a special holiday for our family because that is the date my husband and I first officially met many years ago. No matter where my husband and I are living, we are proud to celebrate our country on this holiday. When we were on a military installation overseas the last few holidays, listening to the National Anthem playing on the loud speakers reminded us of our amazing country and the honor it is for my husband to serve. ‘’

How I will celebrate: "My husband is coming to visit this Fourth of July after a deployment, and he loves the Diamondbacks. So we are super excited to go to the game on the Fourth wearing our D-back hats!"


Christopher Landauer recruits online students from all aspects of the military: veterans, spouses of veterans, and active duty.

Name: Chris Landauer

Position at GCU: Regional Director of Operations, West Coast Military Division.

Background: Landauer leads a staff that recruits and enrolls students who are military veterans, spouses and active duty members from across the western United States. Once they are enrolled, he and his staff provide support services.

What Fourth of July means to me: “The Fourth of July is, by far, my favorite holiday each year. It couldn’t happen at a better time of year, either -- the weather is warm, families are out of school or on vacation, and no matter where you choose to celebrate our country’s freedom, there is always something fun and patriotic to participate in. More importantly, though, the Fourth of July represents more than just our Declaration for Independence. To me, it’s the one time a year that I see everyone -- no matter how divided -- come together to bleed red, white and blue, reflect on how grand our country is, and share sentimental thoughts about what our founding fathers established and fought for so that we could enjoy it all today."

How I will celebrate: “This year my family and I will be celebrating the Fourth of July up in Prescott attending one of the greatest rodeos in all of America."


Dr. Randy Gibb was a colonel in the United States Air Force Academy.

Name: Dr. Randy Gibb

Position at GCU: Dean of the Colangelo College of Business

Background: Distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, served as a colonel and pilot in the U.S. Air Force, commanded two flying units, led the AFA’s behavioral science and leadership department. and served as Senior Military Professor at the Air Force Institute of Technology.

What Fourth of July means to me: “The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate our freedoms and to continue to enjoy those freedoms on into the future. I so appreciate those serving our great country in locations all over the world to ensure those freedoms continue for future generations.’’

How I will celebrate: “I will be here in Phoenix, enjoying my family and a fun neighborhood parade."


Jena Akard values the sacrifice Americans have made for freedom.

Name: Jena Akard

Position at GCU:  Assistant professor in the College of Education

Background: A graduate of GCU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, Professor Akard earned a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University and is pursuing her doctorate at GCU with an emphasis in cognition and instruction. In August, Akard will mark five years teaching at GCU.

What Fourth of July means to me: “I was visiting the VA (Veteran’s Administration) hospital a few years ago, and a sign on the wall said, “Freedom is not FREE.” This Fourth of July is a special time for my family to reflect on our freedoms as Americans. To all of the men, women and families who sacrificed for these freedoms that we have every day, we thank you. May we also remember our first freedom, which was bought through Jesus Christ.’’

How I will celebrate: “Our family (husband, daughter, nephew and parents) will be reflecting together and celebrating by swimming, eating awesome barbecue and watching fireworks from our house!’’

Contact Theresa Smith at (602) 639-7457 or [email protected].


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GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

(Moses addressed Israel, reminding them of God's deliverance of them from Egypt, and His commands given to them:) "You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the miraculous signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out (from bondage and delivered you.). The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear." (Deuteronomy 7:19)

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