Honors College Alumni Board connects, educates

Cathleen Daly, who earned GCU degrees in 2017 and 2020, is one of the members of the new Honors College alumni council.

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Desk

Like Grand Canyon University Specialized college approaching its 10th anniversary, it continues to use advisory boards to shape its professional programs, volunteer experiences and networking events.

Now he has a new one.

The Honors College Alumni Council joined the Dean’s Advisory Council and the Student Advisory Council to create a trio of perspectives and commentary to help the college embody its five core values: ethics, research, service, leadership and cultural awareness.

Associate Dean Dr. Breanna Naegeli believes that this “three-tier support system” plays a central role in the continued development of the program.

“Representation from all three groups has been extremely valuable as it allows our administration to gather actionable and relevant information from a variety of perspectives,” she said. “I am so fortunate to have the humble, service-oriented alumni base that we have, and I very much enjoy collaborating with them as we work to grow the dynamic student experience available within Honors College. “

John Varkey, who is completing his master’s degree at Notre Dame, is also a member of the council of elders.

Members of the new council of alumni reunited almost recently to reconnect and share some of the life lessons they’ve learned since graduating. This feedback will be used to design new programs for existing students.

“Serving, mentoring and supporting the next generation of graduates is a concept deeply woven into the fabric of the GCU community,” Naegeli said. “Our alumni council is an exemplary representation of this – they are always on the lookout for new opportunities to engage and support promising GCU Honors College students.”

For John Varkeygraduated in electrical engineering with honors 2020 and member of the council of alumni, it was an opportunity to put his experience at the service of others.

Since graduating amid the pandemic, Varkey has refused to be slowed down. He’s working on his master’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Notre Dame, and graduate readiness is a topic close to his heart — in particular, connecting undergraduates interested in going to graduate school with graduate students. who can help prepare them.

“I lost the whole process and figured it out as I went,” he said of his graduate school experience. “It took so much work, so I really want to help other students who want to go to graduate school and want to advance their careers that way.”

In addition to suggestions for current Honors students, the Alumni Council also works as a resource for new grads to find their footing.

Carson Foleywho graduated in marketing in December, is the board’s newest graduate.

Carson Foley is the newest graduate of the council of elders.

“Something that I think would be really important is how do we connect Honors Honors alumni – people who have graduated from Honors College within the last three years – with other alumni Honors more efficiently?” he said. “As honors students, we really enjoy being able to meet other Honors College students on campus, and that has been a big part of our college experience. But it’s about going beyond the GCU and how we can connect honors students after they graduate.

“That’s a lot of what the Council of Elders does, is talk about these ideas of how we can connect students, current and past.”

Council members include alumni from various fields and industries, some of whom have more than one connection to the Honors College.

After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in communication in 2017, Catherine Daly found herself at her alma mater as she held several full-time positions at Honors College. In 2020, she obtained her master’s degree in public administration before accepting her current position as a marketing specialist for Wanzek Construction. She also runs her own blog, “Discovering Daly”.

Joining the council of alumni allowed him to keep in touch with his fellow alumni as well as his former college colleagues.

“I definitely see myself involved for a very long time,” Daly said. “The school and Honors College have given me so many things that have helped me throughout my career, and my personal life too, that I just want to give back in any way I can.”

Since earning her bachelor’s degree, Cathleen Daly has continued to be an active member of the Honors College community. She speaks here at the fall 2021 session of the PAC.

She hopes to use her time on the council to help current GCU students reflect on their time in their undergraduate programs while learning to balance the different factors of their identity.

“Another former member mentioned that once you get into your career, you kind of build that identity around what you do for work,” she said. “Especially as young adults and young professionals, it’s about trying to balance your professional identity but also your other identities outside of work.”

Between industry professionals, current students and now alumni, the resources available through the various college councils are essential to assist in the continued evolution of Honors College.

And Naegeli couldn’t be more excited.

“We’re really excited to work with all of our different groups,” Naegeli said. “We are really taking all of this feedback into consideration to see what we can do to build the strongest program possible. It’s not just what I think is beneficial. They also need to feel it’s beneficial, and having access to all three groups is a big plus for us.

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].


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