2013 Vanguard University Graduates Walk with Faith, Grace and Hope at Commencement

Vanguard University graduates

Vanguard University Commencement 2013

On Friday, May 10, more than 500 Vanguard University graduates participated in the commencement ceremonies at Mariner’s Church.  Highlights include musical performances by the Vanguard University Jazz Ensemble’s, praise music led by Dr. James L. Melton, director and chair of the Department of Music at Vanguard.  Undergraduate student speaker, Lauren Minnick, who received her Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology, Graduate student speaker, Renée Juenger, who received her Master of Arts in Education, and School for Professional Studies (SPS) student LeRonica Bedford, who graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, regaled the commencement audiences with meaningful stories about their unique journeys to achieve their educational goals at Vanguard.

Scroll down to see the text of an article published by the OC Register covering the Vanguard undergraduate commencement ceremony.  OC Register subscribers, click here to view story online.


IRVINE Michelle McKinley graduated from high school in Bishop in Central California with the hopes of finding a small college that resonated with her Christian faith.

“I heard about Vanguard University through friends, so I decided to check it out,” she said. “I stepped on campus and it was like coming home.”

On Friday, Vanguard University of Southern California, a small Christian college in Costa Mesa, celebrated commencement ceremonies for more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students. The commencement featured gospel songs and prayers on the grounds of Mariners Church in Irvine.

McKinley, 21, managed to finish her studies within three years, with a major in religious studies and a concentration in youth leadership. She plans to become a youth pastor in Orange County, she said.

Many graduates, such as McKinley, said they chose Vanguard for its small, family-like atmosphere. The university has an enrollment of 2,200 and classrooms of usually no more than 17 students.

“It’s a very intimate environment where students really get one- on-one attention,” said Shana Martin, the university’s communications director. “Our students are always going out to lunch and coffee with their professors.”

The original college was founded as a small Pentecostal Bible school in Los Angeles in 1920. The college moved to its current location at 55 Fair Drive in 1950 and later gained university status in 1999.

Martin said the majority of students come from cities throughout California and most live on campus at least during their first year. Average annual tuition runs about $37,200, including room and board.

While Vanguard is a Pentecostal school, Martin said admission is open to students of all Christian denominations.

Undergraduates in their first year are required to sign a statement of faith declaring their beliefs as a Christian.

Some graduates go on to faith-based occupations, but most major in business or psychology and enter more corporate fields, Martin said.

“The idea is to give them that strong base in Christian faith and ethics so they can use that in whatever field they choose,” she said.

In his commencement speech, the Rev. L. John Bueno, a California pastor, spoke of his challenges running a school for impoverished children in El Salvador. Despite his struggles with funding, Bueno said he never gave up. He urged the new graduates to go out and make the world a better place and face challenges head on.

“Bring the hope of Jesus Christ to our world,” he said.

Following the ceremony, graduates symbolically moved their tassels from right to left and cheered.

Graduate Maree Drennan, 24, was recruited from her native Australia to play basketball for Vanguard three years ago. In that time, Drennan said she fell in love with the campus community.

“They really care about you here,” she said. “They invest in you as a person and not just an athlete.”


Italy Bound Students Countdown for Takeoff

Italy 2Bound for the boot, 18 Vanguard University students and three professors pack their bags for a month-long study abroad in Italy.

Flying out on May 14 at 7 a.m., the group will pass through New Jersey and then arrive in Rome on the morning of May 15. Upon arrival, they will hop on a bus to Florence where they will spend the first two weeks of the program. When they finish their studies in Florence, they will return to Rome for their final two weeks abroad.

The program is created and run by Vanguard University and is worth nine credits. All-day classes are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays leaving the weekends for homework and travel. Part of the homework has already begun as students have had papers and other homework to complete during this semester.

The professors heading up the trip and leading the program are all Vanguard University professors: Professor of Business and Management Ed Westbrook, J.D.; Department of Theatre Arts Chair Susan K. Berkompas, M.F.A; and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology Edmund J. Rybarczyk, Ph.D. Courses will include Christian Heritage, Introduction to the Arts, and a business course titled Negotiation and Dispute Resolution.

Looking forward to the adventure, junior Rebekka Ramirez, a communications major, said: “I’ve been wanting to go to Italy since I was six years old.” With that dream less than a week away, Ramirez said she is “pumped” but needs to get through finals week first.

With weekends to travel, Ramirez plans to keep school as her number one priority while getting a taste of Italy’s rich culture. There is “so much ancient architecture to explore,” Ramirez said. She plans to keep her travels within Italy so she can experience as much as possible there. Some other students plan to travel outside of Italy to places like Paris, France.

Describing the group of students she is going with, Ramirez said: “Everyone gets along really well. We mesh.” She said the group plans to “eat lots of gelato” and “walk everywhere and anywhere.” With this program, they will have the opportunity to see places like the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican and much more.

Embracing a different culture, seeing artifacts and architecture from history books and eating lots of gelato are only a few highlights to this trip. Ramirez summed up her overall goal for the program by saying: “Just to experience a new country, a new lifestyle and learn as much as I can.”

Learn more about Vanguard University’s Study Abroad program online at http://www.vanguard.edu/registrar/study-abroad/

Nigerian Women Against Violence International Conference to be Hosted by the Global Center for Women and Justice on May 22-24, 2013

NigerianWomenAgainstViolenceJoin Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice (GCWJ) as they host the Nigerian Women Against Violence International Conference on May 22-24, 2013.

The conference will bring together women from Nigeria, Kenya and the United States with the mission of working together through brainstorming and collaboration to come up with strategies to decrease domestic violence, human trafficking and violence against women.

With the goal of equipping the women to combat these issues in their own country, speakers will share best practices and long-term solutions for moving the nation of Africa to peace. This conference will be a great “cross-cultural opportunity to learn,” the coordinator for the GCWJ, Alexis Miller, said. It will be a time to interact with women from different cultures with the purpose of joining hands to play an active role in peace making, peace keeping and peace building.

Conference speakers will include the director of the GCWJ, Sandra Morgan; the director and professor of nursing, Dr. Mary Wickman; and an astute health management and health research consultant, Dr. Kaka Ahmed El-Yakub. Dr. Yakub is also a respected nurse/midwife tutor and health administrator.

The event will be held at Vanguard University. Registration for this special event is $50, which does not include meals.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to learn more about the issues facing African women today, register here. To read more about the speakers and the conference, click here.

Department of Theatre’s Hairspray Production Blasts Stereotypes and Box Office

hairspray-01-260x300Seeing record turnouts, Vanguard University’s Department of Theatre witnessed its production of the classic musical comedy Hairspray bring a crowd that filled the Lyceum Theater.

Out of 13 performances, 10 were sold out. Theatre Manager Bill Hughes said: “The three that were not sold out were in the first weekend, so once the word got out, we were packed.” The cast also performed three well-attended matinees at local high schools, he said. Having worked at Vanguard University for the past eight years, Hughes said Hairspray was the most well attended show since he began working at Vanguard.

Stage Manager Katie Thornberg said Hairspray was so popular that some students and other last-minutes arrivals had to be turned away at the door because there were no more seats available. Thornberg said she hopes that the student body and community will “be excited for our upcoming productions as a result of Hairspray.”

To check out Vanguard University’s theatre department and upcoming shows, visit the department’s website at http://www.vanguard.edu/theatre/.

Nursing Pinning Ceremony Honors and Sends Out Nursing Program Graduates on May 9

Nursing-invite2Vanguard University’s Nursing Program held the Nursing Pinning Ceremony on Thursday, May 9 at 10 a.m., in preparation for the commencement of the program’s 44 graduating students.

The pin each graduate received features two symbols that reflect core values for the nursing graduates to carry with them as they leave Vanguard University. The symbols overlap at the center of the pin with the words “Vanguard University” and “Baccalaureate Nursing” surrounding.

The first symbol on the pin is the “Florence Nightingale Lamp”, which holds historical and symbolic significance. The lamp points back to the founder of the nursing profession, Florence Nightingale, who took a group of women to care for sick and wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War, which had never been done before. It symbolizes Nightingale’s care and devotion that is carried on by the nursing graduates of Vanguard University.

The second symbol is the traditional Christian cross. The cross reminds graduates of the sacrificial love of Christ, which serves as the foundation and motivation for the kind of service and care they will provide. In addition, the cross symbolizes the core Christian commitment of Vanguard University and its mission to deepen students’ faith, equip them to serve the Lord and prepare them for their vocational callings.

Read more about the history and symbolism of the pin by clicking here.