Daily Pilot: Chef ‘Ambushes’ Student, President at Vanguard

By Brittany Woolsey


Kristina Kuzmic believes anyone can cook.

The host of “The Ambush Cook” proved her theory when brought her show’s theme to Family Weekend at Vanguard University on Saturday.

Kuzmic, a 2001 theater alumna, won the “Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star” competition in 2010. In her show, she teaches unsuspecting people how to cook. She said these people, from new moms to bachelors, needed to know how to cook.

At Saturday’s demonstration at the Costa Mesa campus, Kuzmic invited unsuspecting Vanguard freshman Erika Gray, 17, to the stage to learn how to cook a caramelized onion butternut squash tart.

Erika’s mother, Tiana Gray, entered her in a competition to learn to cook with Kuzmic after Erika failed to make brownies from a box.

Kuzmic also asked Vanguard President Carol Taylor to learn how to make the dish, which Kuzmic refused to follow a recipe for.

“Cooking shouldn’t be about copying someone else,” Kuzmic said. “You should be creative.”

Although the stage lacked an oven, Kuzmic made a makeshift one to show Erika and Taylor how to make the tart.

“My true desire is for people to let loose in the kitchen and enjoy the cooking process,” she said.

Kuzmic also shared some of her cooking secrets. She said always having chocolate around can make the cooking experience more enjoyable, so she frequently spoon-fed Erika Gray and Taylor some Nutella during the demonstration. She also said she uses goggles to prevent tearing up while cutting onions.

About a half hour after the demonstration started, Kuzmic presented the crowd with a tart, which she said she prepared the night before. While she shared the tart with Erika Gray and Taylor, Kuzmic said there was not enough to around for the audience members.

“This isn’t like Oprah,” she said jokingly. “Not everyone gets some. You don’t get a car either, so sorry.”

Erika Gray said her experience was “surprising.”

Tiana Gray said she was impressed with her daughter and that she expects her to make the tart for Thanksgiving.

Kuzmic said she enjoyed sharing her talents at her alma mater.

“[The experience] was so neat,” she said. “It was like a full-circle moment. I loved my experience here at Vanguard, and this meant a lot.”

Read the full story on DailyPilot.com

Forbes recognizes VU as one of America’s Top Colleges

Vanguard University is proud to be recognized in Forbes 2012 “America’s Top Colleges” list.  Given that there are over 4000 colleges and universities in the country, this means that Vanguard is in the top 10%.  These statistics are exciting as they are not about reputation, but educational outcomes and Vanguard has succeeded. Click here for the full profile on Forbes.com

Jeff Hittenberger, Provost/Vice President for Academics Affairs is thrilled with the acknowledgement and proudly states, “Vanguard has been recognized by Forbes as being among the top 10% of colleges and universities in the United States based upon our students’ post-graduation success, our students’ satisfaction, their relatively low levels of debt and default compared with students at other comparable colleges and universities, their four-year graduation rates, and the prestigious awards they earn.  Vanguard has accomplished these great things while strengthening our emphasis on our mission: ‘To equip each student for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service.’”

The rankings, which are compiled exclusively for Forbes by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for College Affordability and Productivity, focus on the things that matter the most to students: quality of teaching, great career prospects, high graduation rates and low-levels of debt.

The rankings are based on five general categories: post graduate success (32.5%), which evaluates alumni pay and prominence, student satisfaction (27.5%), which includes professor evaluations and freshman to sophomore year retention rates, debt (17.5%), which penalizes schools for high student debt loads and default rates, four-year graduation rate (11.25%) and competitive awards (11.25%),  which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships like the Rhodes, the Marshall and the Fulbright or go on to earn a Ph.D.  The complete methodology is available here.

To see the complete list of schools from Forbes.com, click here.

About Vanguard University

Vanguard University is a private, Christian, comprehensive university of liberal arts and professional studies equipping students for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service. The U.S. News & World Report has ranked Vanguard among the best baccalaureate colleges in the west in their 2011-2012 rankings of colleges and universities and The Princeton Review named VU a 2011-2012 “Best in the West” College. Vanguard is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

President Taylor Distinguished Speaker at Marketplace Women of OC

President Carol Taylor will share the story of her pathway to the presidency to a group of female CEOs, mid-level managers, administrators, veterinarians, lawyers, doctors, artisans, health/fitness specialists and philanthropists at the Distinguished Speaker luncheon on September 21, 2012, for Marketplace Women of Orange County, held at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach.

Marketplace Women exists to provide growth opportunities that empower women to have a positive, Christian influence in the marketplace. Their vision is to create a movement of Christian women inspiring a growing Christian perspective in the civic and professional life of Orange County. They accomplish this by providing motivation through speakers who have made a mark in their marketplace and who tell the story of their spiritual journey at women luncheons. And by providing a safe, welcoming environment for networking, support and professional growth through monthly networking meetings.

Dr. Taylor became the university’s leader in 2008 during a time of great fiscal challenges that threatened the institution’s existence. As the ninth President of Vanguard University, and the first female President in the institution’s 90-year history, she has led the school through a difficult refining, restructuring and re-vitalization process that saw in the fall of 2011 the largest incoming class in the university’s history!  Among Dr. Taylor’s honors are being named one of OC Metro’s Top 20 Women to Watch, and being named the Orange County Business Journal’s Businesswoman of the Year.

Dr. Taylor does not see herself having gotten a “big break” in life.  Carol Taylor says, “Rather than a single big break, my life has been a series of what has appeared to be small moves that prepared and positioned me for the next thing.”

When asked her secret to success Dr. Taylor responds, “For me, it would have to be a willingness to take risks and take on a challenge, a passion for learning, a willingness to view each position as an opportunity to serve others, and an eyes-wide-open optimism.”

For tickets to this event, visit mpwoc.org

Vanguard University Names Mike Beals Dean Of Spiritual Formation

Dr. Mike Beals brings 31 Years as an ordained minister and served as faculty at Vanguard from 1991 to 2009

COSTA MESA, CA. August 2012 – Vanguard University announces that Mike Beals has been named Dean of Spiritual Formation.  This position will serve as the university pastor for the Vanguard community and the senior administrator of the Spiritual Formation Department.  Mike will provide leadership for student spiritual development and the chapel program, in addition to service to the community through local outreach and global missions.

President Richard Mouw of Fuller Seminary, states, “Mike is a careful thinker, a solid scholar, and an intellectually stimulating conversationalist.  He is also a very fine person, whom I consider to be a good friend.  In our many conversations together over the years I have been impressed by his pastoral sensitivities, his sense of his own humanity as a servant of the Kingdom, and his deep love for his family.  In short, I admire him greatly as a Christian fellow-disciple. When I read your published description of this position, it struck me that Mike is a perfect candidate for this particular assignment.  He has just the right blend of spiritual mentorship, administrative savvy, and love of the academic life that this position requires.”

Mike came to faith in Christ at Vallejo First Assembly of God in 1977.  He began attending San Diego First Assembly of God while pursuing the pre-med program at San Diego State University, but sensed God calling him to Vanguard.  While at Vanguard, Mike double-majored in Religion and Psychology and went on to earn his MA in Church Leadership.  Mike completed a second MA at Fuller Theological Seminary in Biblical Studies and Theology.  He earned his Ph.D. at Fuller in Christian Ethics. After completing  both his BA and MA, he served as an adjunct faculty member from 1991 to 2005 and an Assistant Professor of Religion from 2005 to 2009.

As an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God, Mike has spent the past 31 years in ministry at Mission Hills Community Church in Rancho Santa Margarita, the last 23 of those as Senior Pastor.  Mike has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Fuller Seminary since 1999.  In addition to scholarly involvement in the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Mike has been actively involved in global outreach in Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, China, Israel, Switzerland, France, England, and Scotland.

Jeff Hittenberger, Provost of Vanguard proudly states, “We have experienced many blessings at Vanguard.  Having Mike join us as Dean of Spiritual Formation is a particularly rich blessing as so many here already know and appreciate him and look forward to serving with him as we equip each student for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service.”



For more information about Vanguard University visit vanguard.edu;

About Vanguard University

Vanguard University is a private, Christian, comprehensive university of liberal arts and professional studies equipping students for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service. The U.S. News & World Report has ranked Vanguard among the best baccalaureate colleges in the west in their 2011-2012 rankings of colleges and universities and The Princeton Review named VU a 2014 “Best in the West” College. Vanguard is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). vanguard.edu

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Vanguard is Bringing Enlightenment to the Stage

Theater seeks to enlighten and inspire


Each summer, American Coast Theater Company – a professional drama troupe attached to Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, performs two plays seeking to enlighten and inspire audiences with plays that share a fresh perspective on the human condition.

The six-year-old company is still in its “building stages,” says founder and artistic director Susan Berkompas, but is “ready to take it to the next level.” Berkompas has headed up the theater program at Vanguard University, where ACTC’s shows are held, for 16 years. Vanguard students are also given the chance to intern for the American Coast Theater Company for course credit.

Through Sunday, ACTC is performing “Enlightenment.com”, an original comedy by Warren Doody, a Vanguard professor who teaches composition and playwriting. “It’s really a play that’s made up of seven quirky, foolish people,” Berkompas said. “It really is all about seeing their foolishness and their antics play out.”

“Enlightenment.com” is about the connection between romance and technology. It is the story of a soon-to-be groom who, upon receiving an RSVP from a past love, looks within to move forward. To achieve this, he seeks help in an “enlightenment therapist,” a minister for the online community who also interprets dreams.

Although ACTC is founded on Christian principles, faith isn’t the only lens the plays are presented through. Berkompas revealed that “it’s not about preaching a sermon” but about finding “light in the darkest of storylines” and “that grain of hope or that seed of redemption.”

Unafraid to present dark or heart-wrenching material, ACTC finds the fine balance between gripping and gratuitous. Mature content, such as in the company’s first show, “A Streetcar Named Desire”, is handled creatively, but still true to the original vision. “We have to do justice to what the playwright has written. If it’s meant to be dark and dangerous, then it’s about finding the depths of darkness and of the dangers,” Berkompas shared.

In a similar manner, Berkompas explained that ACTC strives to have “an original point of view while trying to be honest about what the story really is.” With Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”, which they performed from June 8 to July 8, they had “a very particular point of view that hasn’t been told very often. If you didn’t love the shrew by the end of the show, there’s something wrong with you,” Berkompas joked.

The American Coast Theater Company offers an intimate and impactful experience that is family-friendly and “illuminates hope, redemption, and enlightenment.” Emphasizing this, Berkompas shared, “ACTC’s mission is to tell the stories that haven’t been told, yet that are worth telling.”