A couple months ago, I was tasked with gathering facts and figures on Grantham’s progress since August 2005, the date the University left its former home in Slidell, Louisiana, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
We presented the information at a Grantham employee Town Hall meeting to commemorate our 10th anniversary in Kansas City – a city that immediately embraced and supported the 72 Life Changers who made that permanent move northward from Louisiana.
We also unveiled two full scholarships around this “10th Anniversary” theme: one open to a Kansas City area resident and another designated for a resident of Louisiana’s St. Tammany Parish area.
I tapped every department in the University, searching for stats that would show just how far Grantham had come these last ten years in serving and supporting its students.
There were some eye-opening revelations that really underscored our progress, as well as other information that made for ideal “fun facts.”
Some of my Discoveries
Only 72 of the 205 Grantham employees in August 2005 were able to make the move to Kansas City into a tight, 2,000 square-foot leased office space. After ten years of steady growth, we now have a 60,000-square-foot campus and 400 employees in Lenexa, Kansas.
Even in the devastating aftermath of the hurricane, there was only a week or two in which students were unable to contact Grantham directly.
Grantham’s roots date back to 1951. To date, we've had eight live, on-ground Commencement Ceremonies, starting in 2008 (with about triple the number of graduates in 2015 compared to that first year).
In 2005, terms started daily and students worked from physical course packets Grantham mailed out with textbooks. Students would then email assignments back (a far cry from the online classrooms and weekly starts we have now!).
The Eagle Educational Bookstore as it is known today with its wide variety of Grantham Gear is only about a year old — and our first online store didn’t launch until 2008 (side note: Going WAY back, the University printed and shipped textbooks that founder Donald Grantham wrote himself; we have some archived).
Grantham had 30 undergraduate and graduate academic programs in 2005. Ten years later, that number has swelled to 48.
I could go on, writing about the 20 articulation agreements with other schools Grantham has now versus zero in 2005 … or the prior learning assessment program launched in 2013 … or even this blog, which began in 2012. But this is all to make one point – this University has come a LONG way in the past ten years.
From Humble Beginnings
The notion of major achievements coming from humble beginnings is a common but powerful one. There’s something intriguing and inspiring about people who started small, some with little to nothing, and spun raw ambition into gold.
You hear these success stories now and then, often described as “rags-to-riches” accounts, such as this list of 17 billionaires who started off poor.
Then there are stories like that of our University’s founder, Donald Grantham, a man who opened a radio license school in 1951 and helped build that school beyond its humble beginnings. You would not be reading about our 10th anniversary in Kansas City if Mr. Grantham never took that bold first step almost 65 years ago.
And, well, you might not be reading this either had the University not taken another bold step to start over in a new state after Hurricane Katrina destroyed its Slidell campus.
I can’t help but think of the classic proverb, “From humble beginnings come great things.”
It Starts with a Step
There are tales of success that started as something much smaller, imagining a goal that may have even seemed impossible. And there are also some great quotes that remind us of why we should try.
Ancient Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism, Lao-Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.”
They remind me of a much more recent quote from Major Dan Rooney, the founder of Folds of Honor Foundation and the Keynote Speaker at Grantham’s 2015 Commencement Ceremony, who said, “Understand that the difference between an idea and reality is simply having the courage and faith to take that step forward.”
Every Grantham student starts somewhere, often with their own humble beginnings and dreams of something bigger. And even when it isn’t clear, when that end goal seems too far away, too uncertain to pursue … the best ones forge ahead with the faith that as they continue to learn and evolve through education, they’ll reach that goal in time. But only after that bold first step.
Don't let your future pass you by! Make the choice today to evolve into tomorrow.