Class of 2014 Reached Finish Line on May 9

VU Commencement 2014-6Finally at the finish line, Vanguard University’s Class of 2014 crossed the stage and became official VU alumni on May 9 at Commencement.

Accomplishing the race toward graduation, students from Vanguard’s undergraduate, graduate and professional studies programs walked across the Mariners church stage and received their diplomas. Along with the more than 500 graduates, the church auditorium filled with friends, family, faculty and staff to celebrate the students.

For the 2014 Commencement ceremony, Vanguard University chose well-known author, leader and speaker Christine Caine to give the Commencement speech. She is a member of the leadership team at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, the director of Equip and Empower Ministries and the co-founder of the A21 Campaign. Caine is a profoundly effective communicator who shares messages of hope and inspiration. One graduate, Kristen Atkins, said Caine had her “captivated the whole time” with a very relatable and encouraging message.

Now an official Vanguard University alumna, Atkins left the Commencement stage with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education.  Along with many other graduates, Atkins carries her degree into an unknown, yet exciting future. When describing how it feels for her and many of the other graduates to have finally graduated, Atkins said: “We mentally know that we’ve got this big accomplishment done, but emotionally it hasn’t sunk in yet.” It’s all very surreal still, Atkins said.VU Commencement 2014-1

Looking back on the momentous event, Atkins said: “Vanguard, overall, did a really good job with the whole ceremony.” Atkins said she enjoyed the entire lineup. From worship with the choir to Caine’s empowering speech, Atkins said the ceremony went by surprisingly fast while being engaging and enjoyable.

Before Commencement, Vanguard hosted the Baccalaureate Service at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on May 8. With music, scripture readings and a message from a student-selected speaker, the Baccalaureate Service celebrated and honored the graduating seniors. A longstanding tradition from medieval universities, the service first and foremost celebrates God’s faithfulness to graduating students.  This year’s student-selected speaker was Barbi Rouse ’74, the director of Learning Skills and an assistant professor of Humanities.

Vanguard also hosted other graduation ceremonies to celebrate students in specific departments. On May 1, Vanguard’s Veterans Center hosted the Challenge Coin Ceremony to honor each of the graduating student veterans. On May 8, Vanguard’s Nursing Program hosted the Nursing Pinning Ceremony to honor nursing students and to present them with pins symbolizing devotion, care and sacrificial love. And on May 3, Vanguard’s Diversity Programming hosted the Hispanic Graduation Celebration.

To find out more about the 2014 commencement ceremonies, visit VU’s commencement site by clicking here. To purchase a 2014 Commencement DVD, click here.

Students Find Relief from Finals at Midday Retreat

FinalsRetreatTherapyDogsAmongst the madness of finals week, Vanguard University hosted a “Finals Retreat” on May 5 at the campus mall and in the Cove for students to pause, take a breath and jump back into their studies refreshed.

Starting at 11 a.m., the retreat featured 10-minute massages, therapy dogs, relaxation exercise sessions and snacks. The event also provided students with take-home stress balls and flyers with tips for combatting stress. VU’s Counseling Center, Diversity Programming and Alumni Relations worked together to create this time of relief for students.

Multiple students raved about the therapy dogs and their ability to relieve stress. Junior Lacey Proulx said just seeing the dogs brought a smile to her face. Sophomore Oscar Islas posted an Instagram photo thanking the dog Zip for bringing him some much-needed relief after two “very stressful finals” that morning. “So much stress got lifted off my shoulders because of him,” Islas said. Bark Reading Dogs, a California-based volunteer program, brought their certified therapy dogs for the event.

Commenting on the purpose of the retreat, Director of Alumni and University Relations Joel Gackle said it was to provide a “break from the stress” and to “calm the nerves.” This is the third year Vanguard has hosted a finals retreat. The goal of the retreat is to help students get “rejuvenated” so they can jump back into their studies and finish well, Gackle said.

To read more about the event, click here.

Legally Blonde Musical Packed with People and Laughs

legally_blonde_artA whirlwind of pink blew across the Lyceum Theater stage on April 11-26 for Vanguard University’s Department of Theatre Arts production of Legally Blonde the Musical.

With a packed house almost every night and the chance to make new friends, the musical was a huge success, actor and dancer Kara Kenney said. The musical lined up well with the movie and was a “blast” to make, she added.

Having no prior experience performing in a show, Kenney said she was very hesitant about auditioning, but after continual encouragement from a friend, she gave in and went to tryouts. With her high school dance experience and natural talent, Kenney received not only a dancing role and the position of assistant choreographer, but also the role of Chutney Windham, the lead witness in the court case.

Looking back on her experience, Kenney said: “Performing is such a major passion of mine. I’m glad I did it.” Kenney said she was proud of herself for taking the chance and putting in the many hours of hard work for the show. With rehearsals Monday through Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., the musical required a lot of time and effort, but Kenney said the performances made it all worth it. Her favorite part was “being together and working together toward putting together a great show,” she said.

Based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer motion picture, Heather Hatch’s Legally Blonde the Musical is peppy, playful and stays true to the movie. Set for success, the musical featured music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, and Vanguard’s Vanda Eggington directed it. The musical playfully portrayed the story of the blonde, decked in pink and ready to rock the world of Harvard Law main character, Elle Woods. Audiences watched Elle’s journey from trying to win back her boyfriend at law school to winning a court case instead.

Passionate about the redeeming qualities of the story that are often missed, Eggington said: “It is a triumphant story about anyone who has ever let others dictate his or her own worth.” The musical shows Elle’s journey to find that “her true worth is much more than skin deep and greater than she could have ever imagined,” Eggington said.

To learn more about the play, click here.

Juniors Invited to Float through Finals at Transitions Event

Don't Sink...Float“Don’t Sink… Float!” Vanguard University’s Office of Transitions team invited juniors to come by Heath Lawn on April 30 for soda floats (Coke and Root Beer) and a break from drowning in finals prep.

With Coke and Root Beer floats, a best-guess gumball contest, chill music and a chance to sign the senior royalty sign, the “Don’t Sink…Float” transitions event put smiles on many faces. Despite the crazy winds, multiple juniors stopped by to sign the poster, put in their gumball guesstimate and get a float. On the first day of school in the fall, the senior royalty poster will be carried down the red carpet of Heath Lawn for the new seniors to follow as they begin their final year at Vanguard.

Speaking about the event, junior transitions program director Amber Garman said it was to celebrate juniors becoming seniors and to encourage them to “not sink” in the stress of finals, but “float.” Along with soda floats, juniors walked away with their class picture that was taken during their freshman orientation.

To learn more about the Office of Transitions, click here.

Bump, Set and Spike at Lions Volleyball Benefit Beach Tournament

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 11.15.48 AMCome in red, white and blue and carrying your “‘Murica” face for Vanguard University Volleyball’s second NEGU Benefit Beach Volleyball Tournament on May 3 at Newland, Huntington Beach.

The theme for this year’s tournament is “‘Murica”, which is a slang term for America used to express extreme patriotism. Starting last year, the tournament combines the efforts of Vanguard’s Lions volleyball team with California FCA Volleyball and Mariners Church Huntington Beach to benefit the Jessie Rees Foundation (NEGU). Last year’s event hosted 50 players and raised more than $1,100 for the NEGU Foundation and the goal is to increase both those numbers this year.

Inspired by a 12-year-old girl, Jessica Joy Rees, who fought two brain tumors for 10 months before losing her fight, NEGU focuses on spreading her message of love and encouragement to other children who are fighting cancer. Rees created the motto “NEGU”, which stands for “Never Ever Give Up.” While spreading this motto, the foundation gives JoyJars to children fighting life-altering medical illnesses. In addition to new toys, games and activities, these jars are filled with hope, joy and love.

Vanguard volleyball invites beginners and seasoned players, high-school age and up, to join in the fun and the NEGU mission. The tournament will feature four-person teams and bracket play split based on skill level (beginner or advanced). People can sign up as individuals or as a team: $25 for individuals, $100 for teams. To sign up, visit the benefit’s Facebook page and post your name(s) and skill level.

Watch their promo video and find out more about the event, by clicking here.