● Slideshow and replay of Friday morning ceremony.
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Many students push hard to succeed at Grand Canyon University.
Cassidy Alexander pushed so hard, she moved a truck.
Canyon Ventures Center Director Robert Vera conducts group workouts atop the 27th Avenue parking garage, and one of his challenges for participants is pushing his 6,000-pound truck.
Most of the newcomers quickly drop out. Not Alexander.
“Cassidy would be right beside me, hands pressed hard against the bumper, head down, pushing as hard as she could, half grimacing, half smiling,” he said.
“No matter how I grinded, she was right there beside me. She was the first one to volunteer when I asked, ‘Who wants to do one more lap?’ She outlasted most of the boys. A true warrior and a great leader!”
That determination is just one of the reasons why Vera nominated her for the student speaker honor at Spring Commencement. As she emphasized in her talk Friday afternoon, her time at GCU mainly has been about relationships – that’s where the rubber meets the road to a diploma and a career.
Alexander spent three years on campus after starting out at another university. She came in unsure of how this would work. She graduated with a clear idea of how God works.
“When I transferred, I was so nervous to meet people and make friends,” she said. “I was like, ‘God, give me one friend.’ And I feel like He’s done more than I can ask or imagine with that.
“I’ve made such deep friendships here – professionally, too. If I wanted to get a job in South Dakota, I’d probably know somebody from GCU who would have a connection.”
Alexander is staying right here in Phoenix for the time being. She worked in sales and then operations for ZorroSign, a Canyon Ventures business, and now she’s going to be fulltime. But also in her future is another mission trip to Zambia in south central Africa.
It’s not an excursion for the faint of heart. When she went to Zambia before, her group camped out in the bush and actually cast out demons.
“It was so, so cool,” she said. “You travel for hours and hours going to each village and sharing the Gospel, which is translated into Lozi, their native language. We got to see healings and demons cast out. We prayed, ‘Lord, cast out these demons in Jesus’ name,’ and they would roll on the ground. It was insane. It’s hard to believe unless you see it.”
But, recently, Alexander has found herself wrestling with how she’s going to transition to post-college adulthood now that she has her finance degree. That’s part of the reason why she’s relieved that she’ll still be around.
“My faith is really important to me,” she said. “I was talking to Robert last semester and saying, ‘What am I doing with my life? What is my purpose? How do I figure this out?’
“It’s just so weird going from GCU, where you have everything figured out for you. You just go to your classes and get involved with clubs. It’s like, ‘La la la, this is so fun.’ And then what do you do when you enter the workforce?”
Vera sees a leader who’s sure to go far.
“Cassidy is exactly the type of person we want to attract, educate and equip to go out into the world,” he said. “She will transform organizations, communities and everyone she meets armed only with her humility, ruthless work ethic and relentless faith.
“There was never a time that I would not see Cassidy working away at ZorroSign, her tattered Bible open next to her, filled with notes, Post-It Notes and highlights. She would alternate between working and reading the Word.”
She also was focused on the idea that success on campus usually starts with getting involved. She was on the TEDxGCU student team, joined the new Women in Business Club, was finance director for the STELLAR mission to send a microbial fuel cell into space, and helped with Canyon Angels.
She also ate at Chick-fil-A a lot. Like, three or four times a week. In fact, that’s where she met her fiancé, Ezekiel Reid. She likes the salads there, but it was their milkshake orders that first brought them together.
Alexander would like to own an art school someday, but for now she’s satisfied to stay put at Canyon Ventures and continue to enjoy the GCU culture.
“I feel really blessed by all the friendships and connections I’ve made here,” she said. “I really like the community here. It’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before. It’s like a summer camp. I don’t want to leave. It’s amazing.”
Besides, there’s still that truck that needs a good push.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].
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