Discussion | UNV-103 | Grand Canyon University

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1. What principles from GCU’s mission, vision, and Christian mission that you read about in Chapter 2 of the University Success Guide in this week’s readings can you implement in your career, personal or spiritual life?

Image of GCU slogan Find Your Purpose.

Finding that “why,” your purpose, is what brought you to Grand Canyon University (GCU). All of us seek to find meaningful ways to develop our understanding of the world and to find our purpose within it. Higher education offers a safe and supportive environment in which you are able to engage in self-discovery while making the most of opportunities for personal and professional enrichment.

An image of four students sitting around a table covered in textbooks and notebooks as they study together.

What makes higher education and the academic community, in particular, so gratifying is the sense of belonging that being a member of the community offers. The members of an academic community come together to support one another and create a shared vision for learning in which students receive guidance and support through their academic journey. The programs and services that the University offer are designed to ensure your success; in other words, the academic system has been developed to support you. This is, after all, the purpose of higher education—to develop the skills that will enable you to achieve personal and professional goals.

Finally, there is a GCU faith statement that says, “God has a purpose for our lives, and He prepares and calls us to that purpose.” This means that we each have a destiny that we are privileged to pursue in our quest to honor God both internally (in personal character) and externally (in service that we provide to others).

illustration of the GCU mascot Thunder wearing glasses and typing on a laptop.

Did You Know?

GCU offers weekly chapel services for all students. Students can attend virtually or in person on campus.


Diversity not only enriches the educational endeavor, but also critical to it. GCU welcomes students from all walks of life and is committed to inclusiveness and respect for all. The diversity of our community is a source of excellence, enrichment, and strength.

GCU’s diversity encompasses multiple dimensions, including age, disability, national origin, race, color, religion, gender, veteran status, and more. GCU values diversity because it values every student entrusted to its care.

A photo of a group of diverse young people laying on the ground, shoulder to shoulder, in a circle.

“For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of another.” —Romans 12:4–5 (New Revised Standard Version)


As you begin your journey as a college student, you are likely feeling excited, anxious, and possibly fearful. It is normal to wonder if you can complete your schoolwork, balance college with your current responsibilities, and do it all successfully. We are dedicated to helping our students change their lives for the better through education.Whether you are a recent high school graduate attending classes on the traditional campus or an adult learner attending classes online, these emotions are the same and so are the strategies you can use to ease into your educational program.

Starting college with a solid plan will help you to build confidence that you can be a successful college student and still maintain a life outside of the classroom. Self-awareness, creation of an action plan, and navigation of academic resources are necessary for college success, regardless of your age or the modality in which you attend classes.

No matter the type of learning environment you choose to complete your college education, the experience will be what you make of it. The best choice to make when choosing a learning platform is to find one that complements your lifestyle, optimizes your learning, and allows you to achieve the dream of completing a college education. Obtaining a college education will help you to reach your personal and professional goals and find your purpose.


In Chapter 1, the GCU Mission Statement was introduced. A mission statement is the summary of an organization’s purpose and goals. GCU prides itself on the quality of the programs it offers to students in each of the colleges. GCU continues to develop thoughtful curriculum built on defined learning outcomes and competencies tied directly to our Mission Statement.

GCU Mission Statement

GCU is a missional, Christ-centered university with an innovative and adaptive spirit that addresses the world’s deep needs by cultivating compassionate Christian community, empowering free and virtuous action, and serving others in ways that promote human flourishing.

Through academic excellence, the university equips students with knowledge of the Christian worldview, instilling in them a sense of purpose and vocational calling that enables them to be innovative thinkers, effective communicators, global contributors, and transformative leaders who change their communities by placing the interests of others before their own.

Competencies are the knowledge, skills, and abilities determined to be critical for success both in education and employment. At GCU, learning experiences are intentionally structured around the competencies necessary for students and later career professionals to be successful. In your educational journey, you will often hear about competencies at the course, program, and University level. Mastering competencies prepares you for success.

GCU’s Mission Critical (MC) Competencies represent the overarching learning outcomes that every GCU student should demonstrate by graduation. They define the GCU experience and help to prepare you for personal and professional success. Regardless of academic level, GCU is committed to ensuring that our graduates demonstrate and master competence in these foundational outcomes.

GCU’s Mission Critical (MC) Competencies

MC1: Effective Communication – Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications, appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions.

MC2: Critical Thinking – Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments.

MC3: Christian Worldview – Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of the Christian worldview that affect human value and dignity, ethical decision-making, academic disciplines, and vocation.

MC4: Leadership – Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to recognize and apply ethical, moral, and values-based leadership; collaborate respectfully with all individuals; and encourage others to achieve their goals.

MC5: Global Awareness, Perspectives, and Ethics – Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness of and appreciation and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life.

Communication: Effective communication skills are fundamental to your success, whether in school, your career, or personal relationships. Regardless of the setting you are in—be it personal or group, internal or external—effective communication skills play a large part in determining your level of success. Communication skills guide you to understand others and have them understand you in turn.

Something to Think About

We talk, text, chat, and engage with others often. How do you vary your communication style to match the communication setting? Why is that important?

Critical Thinking: The practice of critical thinking is not about finding fault (criticizing) or critiquing (judging) an idea but, rather, considering and understanding the assumptions that make the thought valid or not and developing your own clear and relevant thoughts.

Something to Think About

Social media exposes us to lots of different, and often opposing, ideas. How do you decide which ideas are valid?

Christian Heritage: The curriculum provides a framework within which you can examine your own worldview. The goal is not to mandate an exact set of values for you but, rather, to challenge you to consider your own present values and assess your beliefs and behaviors based on those values.

Something to Think About

How is your worldview part of your daily actions?

Leadership: A responsible leader is grounded in the reality of the world, accepts the consequences of choice, and strives unselfishly to help others meet their highest potential. In essence, a responsible leader seeks to be an effective communicator, a critical thinker, and a global citizen.

Something to Think About

Reflect on someone you see as a “good leader”—a club, group, work, family, or government. What qualities does this person or institution have?

Global Citizenship: Being a global citizen means you show empathy, recognize diversity, and defend the reality that people are different with different perspectives on history, religion, value-systems, and many other aspects of life and living.

Something to Think About

Being a global citizen does not mean being a global traveler. Reflect on your experience with school, work, and friends. What have you learned from those who are different from you?


As you start your educational journey, you take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified as GCU General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills you acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.

General education coursework prepares graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. The General Education (GED) Competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, introduce and reinforce the Mission Critical Competencies and form the foundation of all GCU degrees.

University Foundations

University Foundation

 knowledge is critical for success throughout your academic journey and post-graduation. The skills gained from your introductory coursework will provide a foundation for self-leadership and self-management, resource exploration, opportunities for engaging in the GCU community relative to your program of study, and methods for establishing other general education success skills.

Every student at GCU takes an introductory university foundations course such as this one. This introductory course is designed to prepare students for the rigors of university-level academics and expectations and serves as a foundation for each student’s program of study. Giving 100 percent effort in this course ensures students build a solid foundation on which to build a successful academic career.

Effective Communication


 is used in everyday life in a variety of ways. Yet, sometimes messages do not always have the intended effect. Communication is an essential part of navigating situations that require any level of interaction. Developing effective communication skills is a life-skill with great rewards and a defining aptitude that helps achieve goals. In Chapter 5, we will explore what defines effective communication, why it is so important in our lives, and how we can apply this knowledge so that communication is more effective.

Critical Thinking

The practice of 

critical thinking

 is not about finding fault (criticizing) or critiquing (judging) an idea but, rather, considering and understanding the assumptions that make the thought valid or not, and developing our own clear and relevant thoughts.

As you engage in acquiring knowledge through your coursework, you are continually exposed to facts, application of those facts, interpretation of those facts, and in some cases, ideas that have little, if any, evidence to support them. If you are to truly benefit from your education, become higher level thinkers, and go on to make significant contributions to society, it is imperative that you learn how to analyze the various factors supporting the thoughts that you are presented with and to be mindful of the assumptions that you hold on a given topic.

Global Awareness, Perspective, and Ethics

Being a 

global citizen

 means you show empathy, recognize diversity, and defend the reality that people are different with different perspectives on history, religion, value-systems, and many other aspects of life and living.

GCU desires our graduates to be responsible citizens who strive in their personal and professional lives to be instruments and advocates of peace and justice. GCU continues to prepare students who will not only make outstanding professionals earning a good living but also citizens who understand what it takes to make a good life.

Christian Worldview

A values-based curriculum grounded in Christian theology begins with the idea that students are created in the image of God and emphasizes a 

Christian worldview

 that teaches, reinforces, and causes students to contemplate certain foundational values that Christian ideology contends lead to a good life.

The curriculum provides a framework within which you can examine your own worldview. The goal is not to mandate an exact set of values for you, but rather to challenge you to consider your own present values and assess your beliefs and behaviors based on those values.


Beyond the obvious results of attaining an education or finding a better job, there are countless benefits and skills a college student gains simply from going through the process of earning a college degree. Organization, prioritizing, persistence, critical-thinking skills, and communication skills will be tested while in school, and you will find these skills to be beneficial in all aspects of your life during and beyond your college experience. Earning a college degree is not just about learning the content in your chosen field of study, but it is also about the skills you will learn, develop, and enhance as you progress through the process. Success is finding your purpose.


Image of the GCU logo

Grant Goodman

In the summer of 2018, alum Grant Goodman dedicated his time to serving the people of Honduras by interning with an inspirational organization, Sonlight Solar. Sonlight Solar is a Christian-based company that works to provide electricity to countries in need. During his time at Sonlight, Goodman had the opportunity to lead the installation of three solar panel array systems for three schools in the remote village of Juticalpa. “It was fun to oversee the people that came from the United States, but also the local Hondurans that join in our efforts,” Goodman recounted. “Dozens of the people from the local area wanted to help in whatever way they could. They helped us mix concrete or held the poles that would sustain the solar panels. We were not just there to serve the people of Juticalpa but also to work alongside them to improve their community.” During his internship, Goodman was excited to see how the engineering concepts he learned in his courses at GCU aided him in solving real-world problems. “GCU challenged me in my abilities—physics, basic circuit knowledge, and schematics—but also in my critical-thinking skills in addressing a practical situation. It was fulfilling to see how God had equipped me in my program to meet the needs of a community,” Goodman said. While they were installing the solar panels, one of Goodman’s Honduran teammates told him, “‘The people of Honduras do not need you to feel sorry for them, but to share the love of Christ to them.’ At the end of the day, I realized that I was a servant to God. I was there to meet some of the people’s physical needs, but also their spiritual needs by sharing the Gospel. And to this day, that is the goal of my career.”

Goodman graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2020. After graduation he took a job as a field technician at Advanced GPR.

An image of Dr. Trish Galbreath-Varner holding her diploma.

Dr. Trish Galbreath-Varner

By Ashlee Larrison

GCU News Bureau

Yes, history has a tendency to repeat itself. Beverly Galbreath saw it firsthand in her family after noticing a pattern that spanned three generations.

Her mother was young when she started a family and was unable to attend college because she worked multiple jobs to provide for her five children. Galbreath herself was a young mother who didn’t receive her GED until later in life because she was busy raising her children alongside her husband in a marriage that now spans 44 years.

When her only daughter, Dr. Trish Galbreath-Varner, found herself in a similar situation—a young mother questioning her ability to take on higher education—Galbreath was determined to make sure that this time it would be different.

“Neither my mother or my grandmother had the same opportunities as I do,” Galbreath-Varner said. “She really wanted something different for me. She always told me that she never wanted me to depend on anyone else, she wanted me to be college educated so that I could make decisions for my own.”

Galbreath-Varner fulfilled her mother’s dream when she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Central Washington University in 2005, but she didn’t stop there.

In 2011, she graduated with her MBA from Kennesaw State University, shortly before beginning her Ph.D. journey at Grand Canyon University in 2012. Eight years and multiple obstacles later, Galbreath-Varner became Dr. Galbreath-Varner in May 2020. It was just as much of a victory for Beverly Galbreath.

“No matter what it took, she made sure she was there for me, supporting me through all of my college journey,” Galbreath-Varner said.

Her mother would care for her kids when Galbreath-Varner needed to work on coursework, sometimes even into the evenings to allow her to take classes on campus. There were times when she would assist with finances when her daughter needed help. Galbreath did whatever it took to make sure her daughter reached her academic dream.

“As much as every degree I’ve obtained is mine, I believe it’s hers, too,” Galbreath-Varner said. “She worked so hard to get me to that point. I am so in awe of her because it was such a selfless act to dedicate pretty much her whole life to ensuring her children are successful.”

And successful she is.

She is the owner and CEO of VFG Finance as well as the founder of A Thousand Generations Inc., a nonprofit that seeks to increase representation of marginalized people in critical organizations. She is also the mother of four, the oldest of whom are also currently working on pursuing higher education themselves.

· 2. “Time Management” section of Chapter 4 in 
University Success Guide: Finding Your Purpose

· Student Preparation for Distance Education

What strategies do you currently use, or have used in the past, to try to practice good time management? Are there any strategies mentioned in the articles listed above that you use or have used? Are there any strategies from the articles that you will try to use going forward to improve your time management? What time management strategies do you think work best to ensure you have adequate time for studying and school work?







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