The lecturer constantly praises the online program

Breana Lee waves to the crowd during her opening remarks Wednesday morning. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

GCU News Desk

Breana Leethe student speaker at the Wednesday morning Spring Commencement ceremony at Grand Canyon Universitybegan by saying, “My words won’t do justice to my incredible experience at GCU.”

You could have fooled his audience, especially his fellow graduates.

Part of the joy of Commencement is that it’s shared with family and friends – and the professors that graduates also look up to. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Lee had a lot to say in eight minutes, starting with the word God gave him years ago – constant.

“I wanted to be seen as a woman of integrity, with character, humor, joy and depth, whatever the situation,” she said. “Constant was more than a word. It was a challenge to live who I say I am, in all things, at all times, in every word, behavior and action. Simple? Not at all.”

She said she wanted to respond with consistency rather than fear when she failed and urged graduates to do the same.

“It’s critical that you know what you believe because your beliefs are fundamental to your decision-making and life choice,” she said. “The conviction to live your beliefs comes from the fact that those beliefs are yours, not those of your parents, teachers, or friends. We cannot stand firm in the belief that we are ready to throw away when the going gets tough.

“This world needs a generation of men and women like you who are making a positive impact by living on purpose. Live intentionally, live faithfully, and persevere in constancy.

Finally, she praised the way GCU responded to the pandemic:

“Even with the world changing, we received a phenomenal education. We saw teachers innovate in the way they engaged their students. We saw how GCU went out of their way to communicate as things changed so quickly and did their best to support, encourage and empower us.

“I have seen Grand Canyon University stay consistent and stand firm in (its) beliefs, faith, and desire to provide an exceptional education. Faculty and administration, thank you. We couldn’t have succeeded without you. »

ANNETTE RHODES

“I’d like to say it was an easy and uneventful trip, but it wasn’t. Between moves, hurricanes, family issues and personal health issues, my classes experienced several interruptions, but like Gloria Gather said, ‘God is in the interruptions!’

“The first physical problem was my vision. I began to have great difficulty reading and experienced pain and burning in both eyes. Through a thorough examination, it was discovered that I had a rare eye disease that affects the cornea.

“My first eye surgery, on my right eye, took place in the fall of 2019 and took eight weeks to heal. Then on January 8, 2020, I fell in the shower, hitting the back of my head against the tiled wall. This necessitated a trip to the ER. After several x-rays and CT scans of my skull, I was told I had a little round “thing” deep in my brain that would require a trip to a neurologist.

The joy on the faces of the graduates is constant as they receive their diplomas. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

“Further tests to determine the size, shape and location of what was thought to be a tumor instead revealed that I had a brain aneurysm. Further analysis brought the news that it might more than one aneurysm. Due to the pandemic, I had to wait until July 9 for a craniotomy. No one was allowed to be with me during the operation and the three days I was in care. But God (my two favorite words when used together) never left me, and I was not afraid.

“We’ve since weathered another hurricane, moved house and I had surgery on my left eye last fall, which was delayed due to the aneurysm. I contracted COVID earlier this year , and the headaches kept me from concentrating. But I’m blessed and happy to say that I have very little residual damage to my memory from the operation, and with God’s help, I don’t I didn’t give up. I graduated with a BA in Christian Studies majoring in Worship Leadership with a GPA of 3.94!

“I am 71 years old. A lot of people asked me if I really intended to walk across the stage, and I said, ‘Absolutely! In fact, I will be the gray-haired woman with the biggest smile and tears rolling down her cheeks and praising God!

“Thank you, Grand Canyon University, for making this program possible! Thank you for the high standards you set for your students! Thank you Student Services Advisors such as Loriana Valverde and Ashley Sear, who has always supported and encouraged me along the way! Thanks to the teachers of College of Theology who share so much wisdom, faith, love and guidance with those in their care!

“But above all, thank you, Lord, for allowing me to achieve this goal and for the opportunities to serve you that await me!”

LUTE TAKUVAKA

“My father kept encouraging me to get my master’s degree, but I always hesitated – mainly because of student loans. But after my sister graduated from GCU in 2020, I decided to do my MBA and chose GCU. My father was so happy! He then told me about the importance of education and knowledge and other things that fathers talk about to us children.

Lute Takuvaka will never forget his father’s advice.

“I had no idea this would be my last conversation with him. A few months later he passed away from COVID. I was devastated. I had to move in and take care of my mum and wanted to quit school, but my amazing advisor who has been there with me the whole time, Kate Brisson, told me I could take a break and go back to school. But I knew that if I took a break, I wouldn’t come back. So I decided to stick with it and get my master’s because I knew that was what my dad would have wanted.

“Last year was the hardest year for me – going to school, working full time and taking care of my mum and my family. But I knew I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t. there had not been an amazing God in heaven who helped me through this ordeal.The amazing teachers also helped me a lot by incorporating spirituality into the lessons.

“God answered my prayers so many times on the nights I cried and wanted to stop. But I did! I’m so thankful for my dad, my family, for my teachers, classmates, GCU and his incredible resources, and a loving Heavenly Father who always cares about me and helped me get to where I am today.

“Anything is possible when we keep God in our lives and do his amazing work in blessing the lives of others. This is my hope for my life journey. I know my dad looks down on me and is proud of my accomplishments. I know that I can continue to use what I have learned and continue to go out and build the Kingdom of the Lord by serving and helping others in need.

MICHAEL STEPHENS

“When my son graduated from high school in 2019, I helped him enroll in a community college with the goal of transferring to a university. Reviewing the courses and seeing that it was possible to complete them online, I decided to go back to school and get a degree.

“I am 43 years old, I work full time and I have a family. I had previously attended college right out of high school, but with kids (I have three, ages 21, 15, and 10) and a wife with multiple sclerosis, the challenges of going to in-person school and full-time work were too much back then.

“My wife had a seizure due to complications with her MS in 2013. In July of that year, we went to Las Vegas to spend some time together after everything we had been through. Arriving in the desert in the summer was like flipping a switch, and my wife had her energy.

“We realized that living in the sun-deprived Pacific Northwest was not good for the family, so we exercised our faith and moved the family to Phoenix. I quit my 13 year job at Microsoft and started my own company. It was an extreme leap of faith that we took in 2014.

“I finally took a job at Wells Fargo in IT because healthcare costs were too high for me. I am now at a point in my career where I need a degree to advance. I am graduated from GCU this spring. I will have gone from my AA last August to completing my BS in Business Administration in 10 months. “Without GCU, this would not have been possible. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that GCU has given me. has offered.

EVA FISHERMAN

“I am a Native American living on a small reservation. When the pandemic hit, I lost my grandmother, who was our matriarch. I had one of the toughest classes and the majority of us failed. I could have quit right away, but my amazing advisor helped me see other options. I took the same course at another university, got an A and transferred my credits. For two semesters I had a 4.0 GPA.

“I used what I went through as a strength to continue with my faith in God. That’s why I chose GCU for my Bachelor of Education and then I will start my Masters. I am a first grade teacher in an elementary school and a freshman deployed spouse, and I like GCU because of its online program.

CATHERINE YOUNG

“I am a recovering drug addict who has been sober for almost 12 years. I found God in 2008 and got out of this hell. I relapsed in 2010, got clean on July 12 of that year, and have been clean ever since.

“In late 2019, my husband and I moved to Arizona with the dream of owning a home and pursuing my career in the home building industry. I signed up for GCU in March 2020 hoping to meet people in Arizona. Then the world entered the pandemic.

“I started my MBA program in May 2020 on Zoom. In my almost two years in the program, I had two major surgeries, was laid off from my job for a short time, we bought our first home and worked in the hardest home building industry of most of our lives.Despite all the challenges, I kept God first and completed my education.

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