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Cancer survivor and organizational leadership student gives back

For pediatric cancer survivor and longtime American Cancer Society volunteer Grant Crim, creating a nonprofit dedicated to supporting young cancer patients and their families is not a matter of if, but when. His pursuit of an ASU Online bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership is helping to lay the groundwork toward reaching his goal.

“It has all the things I’m looking for in one program,” Grant says. “Communications, sociology, business -- it’s a well-rounded approach to the world and business in general and teaches useful skills for starting a nonprofit.”

Grant’s search for an online school began from a practical standpoint. His lifelong health issues and medical expenses combined with a busy volunteering schedule made the possibility of attending school on campus seem remote. After much research and rave reviews from his friend Anna Wales, who works as Business Relations Coordinator for the Polytechnic School, he decided ASU Online was the right fit for him.

“The classes have been so engaging,” Grant says of his experience so far. “You get to work in teams just as you would on campus, and communication with professors is great. I would recommend ASU’s program to anyone. It is well structured and I’ve gotten a lot out of it.”

In particular, Grant hopes to learn about topics like resource management and human behavior, as well as hone his leadership skills in ways that can help him realize his dream of opening Ohana’s Hope. The nonprofit organization would encircle pediatric cancer patients with strength, support, encouragement and, of course, hope for the child and family. One major way this would be accomplished is through providing comfortable lodging.

"There’s not a lot out there, and when you look at staying in regular hotels it’s intimidating,” Grant explains. “People don’t take into account family programs as a whole. They don’t think about siblings and caregivers. I’d like to offer a holistic approach to some of the things that fall outside of the actual medical treatment.”

At 22 months old, Grant was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Initially deemed inoperable, his mother sent his MRI results to doctors across the nation, ultimately finding one in New York who accepted the task of performing resection surgery on a young child. The surgery was successful and progress was positive until Grant relapsed at 3.5 years old. At that point, surgery was no longer an option, and he began on a journey involving clinical trials and chemotherapy. With the exception of some residual side effects from the tumor and treatment, Grant then enjoyed many healthy years until he was diagnosed a third time at the age of 12, at which point the tumor had grown to affect his optic nerve, rendering him legally blind.

In the face of such big challenges, it may come as no surprise that Grant, whose personal motto is “don’t suck: do more,” stepped up and continued his volunteer work with the American Cancer Society. His involvement in the organization’s Relay for Life events has since grown far beyond his Oregon hometown to include travel both nationally and abroad. Back in March, Grant attended a Relay for Life walk on the ASU Polytechnic campus, where he participated in and spoke at the event.

“It was awesome to come to campus with a purpose and meet students and staff in person from my school,” Grant says. “I got to be part of the action. They asked me to share my story and afterward, students came up and asked how they could get more involved. It was inspiring to hear them stepping up to the plate. They have such innovative ideas.”

To be successful in both his volunteer work and online school, Grant stresses the importance of being a self-starter.

“It actually takes organizational leadership -- organizing yourself to what works for you,” Grant says. “You have to have time management and be able to take initiative because you don’t have that in-person interaction and can’t always communicate with a professor in real time.”

He also is an advocate for taking advantage of the additional resources available to students.

“My Success Coach has been phenomenal to work with,” Grant says. “She makes sure I’m on track and has really gone above and beyond. I’ve also utilized the online resources for gathering research. As a large university, there is this misconception that the experience can’t be personal. I’ve found it to be very intimate from recruitment all the way through my classes, and I’m sure on to graduation.”

Having met some of his classmates in person, Grant senses it is a feeling shared by many in the ASU Online community.

“I heard zero negative feedback, which you don’t normally see with a school,” he says. “That was a big tell for me that it wasn’t just an experience I was going through. ASU is having this impact on everyone who goes there.”

Learn more about the ASU Online bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership.

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