Originally from Oak Park, Ill., Elizabeth Valenti escaped the unsympathetic winters and relocated to Arizona in the 1990s. Several family members have since followed! She is a huge animal lover and has been a vegetarian since the age of five when she learned what a Big Mac really was (her parents had no influence). She values compassion for humans, animals and the environment, supporting several organizations that uphold this mission (e.g. Humane Society, Animal Welfare League and the Human Rights Campaign). Dr. Valenti regularly volunteers at local no-kill animal shelters. She plays the piano by ear, speaks a little bit of German, enjoys documentaries of all sorts and is addicted to the outdoors. She loves to travel and garden and is an avid hiker!
Faculty Spotlight Questions:
Who am I and how did I get to GCU?
After obtaining a bachelor’s in psychology from Arizona State University, I dove into the exciting and challenging world of criminal justice. Working as a probation officer for sex offenders, drug addicts, white-collar criminals and gang members over a 10-year span opened my eyes to the complex underlying determinants of human motivation and behavior. During this time, I pursued a master’s degree in education, with a concentration in leadership from Northern Arizona University. My maturing interest in understanding life-crippling addictive behaviors drove my pursuit of a PhD in psychology, with a specialization in addictions. I’m currently a full-time assistant psychology professor at GCU with eight years of academic teaching experience. I’ve designed curriculum and taught graduate and undergraduate level psychology, criminal justice and other social science courses at four major universities. GCU, by far, has been my favorite!
What do I enjoy most in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences?
I love to teach! I have a passion for connecting with students and sharing knowledge that can be immediately applied to the enhancement of well-being. It brings me great joy to witness students make authentic connection with the material—both inside and outside the classroom. Personal and spiritual growth is, in my opinion, the essence of psychology. I truly enjoy mentoring, motiving and inspiring students to be their best selves. They are our future leaders. Cultivating relationships with them has been quite rewarding. I also have a passion for learning and believe it’s a lifelong process that continually transforms us. Knowledge is power which can broaden our minds and expand our horizons. This philosophy is supported within academia, for which I’m truly blessed to be working within.
What advice do I have for CHSS students?
Strive to maintain life balance and inner peace. Practice self-kindness on a daily basis. The Dali Lama once said, “It is lack of love for ourselves that inhibits our compassion toward others. If we make friends with ourselves, then there is no obstacle to opening our hearts and minds to others.” Well-being really starts here. Build healthy habits of exercising regularly and eating green so your “vehicle” has durability and longevity. It’s difficult to give to others when we neglect our bodies, minds and/or spirits. Clarify your priorities, set goals and watch them manifest. Life is a canvas, and we are the artists, so design wisely.