Story by Mike Kilen
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau
It appears Grand Canyon University students are eager to connect.
More than 3,300 swarmed a sea of tables set up at the Canyon Activity Center on Wednesday night at the Club and Community Fair, which featured representatives of every imaginable student club, from pickleball to philosophy, politics to prayer.
Not all of the 107 clubs – with another 10 still awaiting student government approval – were on hand. But there was plenty to choose from.
“If you don’t see one that interests you, come and start one,” said Jeremy Mack, Director of Student Engagement.
Mack has seen some unique interests over the years. One club was into live role-playing using their mobile phones. Another had short-term pop-up events on campus involving Nerf toys and zombies.
Others are more serious. Mack said GCU has one of the largest chapters in its HOSA Future Health Care Professionals Club. Not to be confused with the club for Future Health Care Administrators, who could be their bosses one day.
Students and especially freshman were eager to find all these ways to connect to the community at the last event of a particularly enthusiastic Welcome Week (and a half), said student leader Lexi Noble, who helped organize the fair featuring 80 clubs and 16 community vendors. (See photographer Ralph Freso‘s slideshow here.)
Students could discover at community tables that the Phoenix Zoo is hiring dozens of workers, and a few minutes into the fair a biology major already had tapped into the possibility, said the zoo’s Sonya Wade.
They also could find a lot of career clubs where birds of a feather learn together.
The Psychology Club, for example, does everything but therapy in its meetings. It includes networking, hearing from professional speakers and connecting with new study buddies, said Trinity Vessells, the club’s president.
They could dissect the possibilities with the Anatomy Club or get down with the Hip-Hop Club, camp with the Lopes Outdoors Club or ponder new ideas with the IDEA Club.
Freshmen carrying plastic bags with free treats and stickers, gizmos and contact brochures were delighted.
Ivy Franks said she’s always been interested in ending human trafficking. “I’ve read a lot about it, so I’m going to join the IJM (International Justice Mission) chapter.”
Shelby Swets was opting for the GCU chapter of the conservative Turning Point USA, which featured a large poster decrying big government and last year had a steady group of up to 60 students at any meeting.
It was next to Progressive Student Alliance, which usually has about 10 members, though no one was keeping score. Its organizers said they are interested in liberal policy and social justice, and it’s a safe space to talk about that.
If they aren’t into Pre-Dental or Pre-Law or Pre-Physical Therapy or launching things to the International Space Station with the club called STELLAR, students could write a personal essay for Her Campus at GCU, the local version of a website aimed at young women.
“We have a theme every week, but we mostly write about health and wellness,” said student D’Vashne Tate. “We’ll write about where to go hiking in Arizona, or time management or trendy news.”
Some clubs are just getting their footing. The GCU club chapter of the American Red Cross was stalled in its launch last year by the pandemic, but its members will be ready to volunteer this year.
“Students can see the benefits of serving the community,” said senior Kailey Worner.
Numerous clubs take on the spirit of GCU’s community outreach and volunteerism, from Best Buddies who support people with disabilities to GCU DreamCatchers, who grant wishes to the terminally ill.
There’s a lot of community love going on here.
Groups for Native American, Black, Latino, Hawaiian and Caribbean students get together to bond.
The Enlightened Women of GCU get together to enlighten.
“We can come together without fear of judgment,” said Sara Kidd.
Rumor is, there’s a lot of pizza served at these clubs. Oddly, there is no pizza club, but it’s early.
Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.