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Former basketball star to grads: ‘Let your light shine’

April 27, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

Rehema Stephens could have rested on her laurels after an outstanding career as a basketball player, both as a scoring leader for UCLA and later in the WNBA. But she went on from that career to get three master’s degrees, the latest from GCU on Tuesday, when she was the speaker of the afternoon Commencement for College of Education master’s degree graduates. “Don’t settle, keep ascending,” Rehema said in an interview. “Once you find that area, that passion, success will find you and money will find you.”

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Grad brings teaching gifts home to Navajo Nation

April 27, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

Falonna Ashley never thought she could become a teacher. Growing up in rural Wide Ruins, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation, she never thought she was smart enough to become a teacher. Not only did she earn her bachelor’s degree but, on Tuesday, walked across the GCU Arena Commencement stage after earning her master’s degree in educational leadership. She’s taking those gifts with her back to the reservation, where she’s teaching at a hard-scrabbled rural school that’s an hour away from most conveniences. “The goal was never to make it off the rez,” said Ashley. “The goal was to show rez kids that we are capable of far more than anyone wants to believe we are.”

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Loss of sister, autism diagnosis didn’t stop this grad

April 26, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

When Bianca Peña started a job at a nonprofit, she knew to move forward in her career she needed an advanced degree. So she started on her journey to earn her bachelor’s in behavioral health science. But it would be a hard road for Peña, who paused her studies when her 14-year-old sister, Nancy, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and later when she became the caretaker for her mother. Peña also was recently diagnosed with autism. Many times, she wanted to give up, she said. “I would try to convince myself I don’t need this degree.” But on Monday, she walked across the GCU Arena stage and accepted her diploma, fulfilling her promise to her sister.

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First International Christian STEM event takes wing

April 25, 2022 / by / 1 Comment

Robots tackled mean obstacles, teams launched plastic purple Easter eggs at targets, and aerial gliders went the distance at the first International Christian STEM Competition, which made its debut Saturday on the GCU campus. “It’s the first Christian schools international STEM competition of its kind that we know of,” said K12 Educational Development’s Corinne Araza, who shared how Christian schools don’t always have the resources to develop the kind of STEM programs they want.

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First-generation graduates show their gratitude

April 22, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

It was a heartwarming opening to a week of Commencements at GCU. At Thursday night’s first of 11 Commencements to honor the work of College of Education and College of Humanities and Social Sciences graduates, first-generation students expressed gratitude to their parents who never got the chance to go to college but sacrifice so much for them. And GCU President Brian Mueller shared thoughts that echoed that theme, reading the University mission statement that ends with “placing the needs of others before their own.” Rocio Cigarroa said her parents did that for her, moving to the U.S. for her education. She thanked them with some loving words on her graduation cap.

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Humanities Showcase turns feelings into feats

April 21, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

The biggest takeaway from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Senior Showcase on Wednesday was one word: Help. Students want to help people. Dozens of future social workers, psychologists and counselors, lawyers and police, writers and communicators, showed off their projects that will help society. “They just want to help,” said instructor JoAnn Dunlap of her social work students.

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Club, research breed students’ entry into vet school

April 21, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

Briana Muñoz and Kyla Chavez have been friends since they started their studies at GCU, serving as officers together in the University’s Pre-Vet Club. Now they’re heading to the same veterinary school. The two friends will start their program in the fall at Midwestern University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and are just the latest GCU students to land spots in vet school, which is notoriously more competitive and difficult to get into than medical school.

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COE leaders share value of teachers, books, friends

April 20, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

College of Education Dean Dr. Meredith Critchfield likes to tell teachers in training a story, one that can serve them well as they graduate and go forth to teach. It’s about how a former student reached out to her 10 years later and gave her a gift. The books that Critchfield taught her in class changed her outlook, and she wanted to give Critchfield the children’s versions for her newborn. Now Critchfield has passed the books forward – to her friend, Associate Dean Dr. Emily Pottinger, and her children. It’s a story of the value of teaching and books and friends.

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Hands-on engineering capstones get thumbs-up

April 19, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

Students haven’t just been dealing in theory this year but have brought their capstone projects to life. They presented those culminating assignments at the annual Engineering Capstone Showcase. On display was everything from an automated indoor greenhouse to a warehouse delivery robot prototype to a drone that gathers and records data on water samples, to a high-accuracy fluid printer. “I am just so proud of all of our students and coming back after – it’s been two years. To NOT have had that face-to-face presentation of the capstone projects, and to see the students, their professionalism, in presenting all the things that they’ve learned, it’s a proud moment,” said CSET Associate Dean of Engineering Dr. Janet Brelin Fornari.

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Students’ creative writing marches to many drums

April 18, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

Her seventh-grade teacher told her that her writing was awful. But Paige Walker kept at it, fought through her dyslexia and the death of a friend, and endured. Her poem is included in this year’s upcoming edition of the GCU student literary review StartleBloom, which will be unveiled Wednesday with other student projects at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Senior Showcase. Walker said writing helped her “sort through all my thoughts” and her story has one surprising ending.

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