Laughter and a cascade of bustling backpacks fill the walkway of Willow Hall as a large group of freshmen file out of the dormitory and onto the sidewalk of the Grove. Pleasantries and well-meaning jabs are exchanged as the group splits into factions and heads to an assortment of club meetings, job fairs and workshops all designed to provide students with opportunities to grow and thrive during their initial year on campus. As the crowd thins, a young resident assistant (RA) in a grey polo shouts advice and reminders to each of the students; hoping to instill within them the same confidence he had during his inaugural year, he tailors the statements to encourage and propel the freshmen throughout their day. As the phone in his pocket buzzes, he waves one last time to the departing scholars, presses the mobile to his ear and answers: “This is Tommy Wahl. How can I help you?”
The account above is not an uncommon occurrence for the sophomore honors student, marketing major and RA, Tommy Wahl. As an individual that prides himself on his ability to connect with and build up others, Wahl ensures that each exposure he has with the students under his charge is one that motivates them to expand upon the philosophy that has resulted in an accumulation of accolades during his short tenure on campus: Set yourself apart from the get-go. With faith-fueled humility and a belief that anyone could accomplished what he has, Tommy has left his mark on both the institutions and heart of Grand Canyon University – a point further validated by his nomination for Freshman of the Year in the last academic cycle. Although coasting on the wave that has pushed him to student leadership and Honors College positions would be an easy feat, this driven millennial isn’t likely to stop until he puts forth all he possibly can into his growth and passions.
The clearest example of this principle stems from Wahl’s acquisition of his ongoing position at Market MindShift and his involvement in the brand development of espresso substitute 40 Below Joe. Upon realizing that experience is the key differentiating factor between job candidates, Tommy promptly set out to acquire an internship towards the end of his first semester at GCU. After countless emails and meetings with befriended faculty, Wahl inched his way into a digital marketing associate position in the nick of time.
However, his thirst for opportunity did not stop there. Within the first few weeks of his station, Wahl met with and became the principle marketing resource for the newly established 40 Below Joe. In the time since, he has been able to increase their media presence, coordinate focus groups and, most notably, establish the business as a staple within the Grand Canyon Beverage Company, GCU’s in-house coffee institution.
By building upon the opportunities provided, Tommy Wahl has undoubtedly made himself an individual to watch over the course of the next few years. With a grounded nature and desire to help those around him, he has the potential to become a catalyst for change and development in his peers and university. Hopefully, through continuing to share his experience, he will be able to foster a community of excelling students to take up the mantle of influencer following his graduation. Throughout this transition, remaining grounded will be a key facet to uphold. In the words of his favorite author, C. S Lewis, “humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking about yourself less.” As an individual incredibly plugged into the lives of those around him, Tommy Wahl endeavors to exemplify Lewis’ words as he continues to learn more about his purpose at GCU.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.