GNT Outreach serves unique student community at Franciscan


Most students at Franciscan University enroll right after high school or transfer from other colleges, but some students are designated as GNT or graduate/non-traditional students.

GNT Outreach is a Student Life club that serves these students.

Mary Thomas, a core team member who organizes events for the club, said, “GNT (Outreach) tries to build a community for the grad students or students who are twenty-three and older.”

These students come from various fields, said Thomas, such as full-time employment or religious life.

Thomas said that since graduate students are no longer allowed to live in on-campus housing, the mission of GNT Outreach has become even clearer. For graduate or non-traditional students who live off campus, it is difficult to meet new people outside of class or to get involved with extracurricular activities, she said.

“We are trying to make sure to give people the opportunity to meet each other and have that relationship building throughout the semester,” said Thomas.

Every month GNT Outreach tries to put on at least two events, she said.

Philosophy on Tap, which is intended to open the floor for graduate or non-traditional students to socialize in a fun, friendly environment, is one such event that GNT Outreach puts together, said Thomas.

In the past, the club has gone tailgating and visited the zoo, and recently, a movie night was hosted by the GNT Outreach in the Assisi Height Community Center, she said.

Thomas said that GNT Outreach also provides spiritual ministry.

“It is a part of the Christian life to build community and support each other,” she said.

GNT Outreach offers help and services to the students, said Thomas.

She said there has been a holy hour organized for GNT students and another is being planned. A retreat specifically for the graduate and non-traditional students also is being planned, said Thomas.

In regards to fellow GNT students, Thomas said, “No one can survive as an island. We all need a community and we all need support from the other people. We draw strength sometimes by asking for help or reaching out to other people.”

Thomas said, “I encourage people (to) get involved and not be afraid.”