Jonathan Rowden

Jonathan2Jonathan Rowden ’07 was born in north Los Angeles near Sun Valley. His father’s career as a pioneering worship leader and missionary caused his family to move around quite a bit and also sparked Jonathan’s love of music. He started playing the saxophone at the young age of seven years old, after hearing the sax player on an album his dad was recording. He served in music ministries and spent a number of years as a part-time worship leader/director at a small church plant in Orange County, but his interest as a jazz/creative musician only grew stronger. He graduated from Vanguard University in 2007; where he was classically trained by Ken Foerch and went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Saxophone/Jazz performance at CSU Fullerton. In 2013, he formed an original band, the Jonathan Rowden Group, performing exclusively original music for the first time.

  1. What instrument(s) do you play?

A: Saxophones (mostly tenor and soprano these days), some woodwind double like flute and clarinet. I dabble with piano, drums, and guitar, but mostly for writing purposes.

  1. When and why did you start playing?

A: I began playing the alto saxophone when I was 7 years old. My father was a singer-songwriter/Christian music pioneer when I was a boy (we spent a huge amount of time touring with him when I growing up) and he hired a Seattle-based saxophonist named Richard Cole to play on his second album (I think). I heard him playing in the DIY studio we had in the garage and I guess I really liked the sound and asked him to teach me how to play. My dad actually thought I was too little to do it, but Rich gave it a shot and gave me a few lessons. He got me started on all the fundamentals of the instrument, but we moved to California before too long. Somehow I managed to stay interested and continued to play independently until senior year of high school, at which point I decided I wanted to pursue the saxophone professionally. Most of my early life, I wanted to be a comic book artist, so it really took everyone I knew at the time by surprise.

  1. How has music impacted your life?

A: I suppose it’s complicated to describe, since music has been a constant in my life since I was a boy. When I would go to bed at night I’d fall asleep to the sounds of my dad writing music on the piano or guitar in the room down the hall, experience music in all sorts of situations, and had a really eclectic collection of CD’s, tapes, and some LP’s growing up. In order to say how it has impacted me, I’d have to imagine life without it. Music was a good friend to me in some pretty dark times. But once I chose to do music professionally, my relationship with music changed and went through many stages. I think it has given me a creative outlet that is very unique and allows me to really explore nuanced personal expression, and my faith both in the abstract and otherwise. Once I discovered that I could write music without trying to pay homage to any style or genre in particular, my eyes and ears really opened up.

  1. How did your time at Vanguard help you grow as a musician?

A: My time at Vanguard was spent building an intimate connection to my horn. I sacrificed a lot of time working on my playing. I was very focused – there were a lot of personal desires that needed to be put aside for the sake of the longer goals I had. My time studying with Ken Foerch was foundational, and his pedagogy of the saxophone is exactly what I needed at that time. I was always really self-motivated but Ken showed me that I could overcome technical and mental blocks that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about. Greg Glancey taught me a lot about Jonathan theory and really gave me the freedom to explore a lot of music that (believe it or not in a music program) other students would basically scoff at. In many ways, there were few students during my time at VU that were really pushing themselves, but I strongly believe that being in a small program where I wasn’t extrinsically obligated to “do thus and so” for 10 different groups really benefitted a self-motivated person like me, who had a LOT of technical work to do. I just took advantage of the time and hit the shed.

  1. What have you been doing since your time at Vanguard?

A: I completed my Master’s degree in saxophone/jazz performance at CSUF in 2011, during which time I created my band now known as the Jonathan Rowden Group. The band went on to release our debut album “Becoming” in 2014 on the Los Angeles based creative-music label Orenda Records, including a West & East coast CD release tour stint, and the album received a nice review in the world-renowned Downbeat Magazine. The Jonathan Rowden Group is now prepping/fundraising to record our second album, slated to hit the studio in April – there will be some previews available on my website. I’ve continued teaching in a number of different capacities over the years (something I began in 2004), and am currently serving as the adjunct professor of saxophone at Cal Baptist University and leading/or co-leading jazz/jazz-combo programs at a few high schools. In 2015 I founded Tear It Down Los Angeles | Orange County with is a non-profit organization that produces shows in OC and LA, featuring many of the brightest and best up-and-coming creative-music artists in southern CA. We will be producing a Downtown LA Arts District Jazz Festival the end of 2016. Finally, I created WYR which is the highly experimental side to my musical personality.

  1. What is your new film project about?

A: WYR TERRANIGMA is a full-length concert film (think about it like a live album but with studio-production value and incredible filming) of entirely improvised, experimental music. The core of the ensemble WYR is made up of two drummer-percussionists (Chris Wabich and James Yoshizawa) and myself on saxophones with electronic effects and gadgets. The group improvised on a loose-formal score of instrument/color/timbral cues. This sounds intellectual, but really, the music is pure heart – there’s almost no instruction, just play. For TERRANGIMA we invited two incredible vocalists Areni Agbabian and Joanna Wallfisch to join us. Areni also played prepared piano, and Joanna used a looper to created really interesting vocal effects. The collective sound is something with it’s foot in jazz, new-music (classical), electronic-ambient, and really just anything that feels right in the moment. With so much freedom, you’d think the music would lack focus, but because of the world-class musicianship of my collaborators, the music is incredibly focused and really “lives” in it’s own universe. I think that the best music does this – discovering the intended nature of a given musical moment, and finding a way to live it out to the fullest, or helping its natural direction come to fruition, is what makes this as focused as it is free. There was no rehearsal, only conversation. What I found is that if everyone’s personalities just “make sense” together, their aesthetic sensibilities can come together in some very surprising and beautiful ways during the performance.

  1. What advice do you have for current VU students who are involved in music or otherwise?

A: I think I have three suggestions. First, utilize those practice rooms and don’t be afraid to be a hermit. Good friends will understand. Secondly, don’t wait to start creating your own projects – this is a time in your life when you will (likely) have more time and opportunities to hone your craft than when you graduate and the real world sets in. Third, it’s never too soon to begin looking at what you want your career to look like, and to go out there and start creating opportunities for yourself. Find a mentor, get involved professionally, and never convince yourself that you’ve “arrived”. That’s an easy road to complacency and inactivity.

  1. What are your top five favorite songs to play?

A: Of the songs I’m playing with my band, I’d have to say I really enjoy two new songs I wrote and those of my bandmates. 1) The Wait (a electro-pop/drum & bass-meets-minimalism inspired original) 2) 133 (an ethereal original named after a lovely drive on an OC toll road which costs way too much) 3) Ruins of Númenor (an epic original composed by my bandmate Ryan Pryor) 4) Snowing In Paradise (an original song composed for my wife’s hometown of Paradise CA) 5) Can’t decide on the 5th…

  1. What do you have planned for your music in the future? Any other film projects possibly?

A. There are many exciting plans, actually. We will be releasing a new album this year (2016) with my band the Jonathan Rowden Group with plans to record in April/May. The band will be  performing at the incredible MENG CONCERT HALL at CSU Fullerton on March 12th (please join us). There is a possible WYR studio record on the horizon as well. Additionally, I am in the throws of crafting a vision for a YouTube series of short music films, exploring outdoor locations with improvised and composed material with a variety of collaborations. There are some other editorial things coming up that are really, really exciting for me but I’m not at liberty to share them publicly as of yet.

Jonathan R.As Jonathan had previously stated, he and his band are having a HUGE OC show on March 12th at Meng Concert Hall in Cal State Fullerton and would love for you all to attend. There, he will also be raising money for his NEW ALBUM! Click HERE for more details!

To listen to more of Jonathan’s music, keep up with current events or get into contact with him, you can visit:



Instagram: @JonathanRowden

Twitter: @JonRowdenMusic



Class Notes – Spring 2016



ALUMNI, we are gathering Class Notes for the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of the Vanguard Magazine!

Thursday, March 24
CLASS NOTES deadline
5pm | Online

Class Notes are in these categories –
Just Married
Future Alumni (babies)
In Memory (honorariums for those who have passed away)


EXAMPLE – “Joe McCarthy ’89 is the Director of Marketing & Public Relations at Hope International University in Fullerton, CA. He and his wife of 17 years have adopted two daughters, Eliana Joy (8) and Gabriela Grace (6). The McCarthy’s have lived in Brea since 2006.”


HOW to submit a Class Note:

  1. Online:
  2. Email: with Subject: My Class Note!
  3. Mail: Vanguard University c/o Alumni Relations, 55 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Photos can be emailed (jpeg) or mailed at the address above. Prints will not be returned. Also, when you send us your photos, it grants Vanguard University permission to print it.


We look forward to hearing about what you’ve been up to since graduation!


Vanguard University
Office of Alumni Relations
(714) 966-5494 | alumni@vanguard.ed

joe manuel

Joe Lopez

fantasia articleJoe Lopez ’02 recently poured his experiences into the arrangements of this project.  He was born in a preacher’s home in Long Beach California where church songs became the norm.  He later attended Vanguard University where his love for old hymns developed.

“The wealth of theology and word imagery in the lyrics, the stories of the writers, and the unforgettable melodies were more than enough to motivate this making of a hymn album that would place familiar tunes inside a new and creative acoustic setting.”

He graduated from Vanguard in 2002 with a BA in Music Education.  He then toured with many different musical groups all over the world, including China, Spain, Peru, Central America, Israel and the United States.  In 2015 he recently released an album titled “The Hymnal” (by Joe Manuel).  The album is filled with ten of his favorite songs that one would typically see in a hymnal.  However, it is recorded with new acoustic guitar arrangements along with voices, violin, and piano.   It contains songs such as  How Great Thou Art, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, I Surrender All, Amazing Grace, Great is Thy Faithfulness, and many more.

joe manuel

This album is available for purchase at and is also available on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play.  Join us in supporting one of our Vanguard Alums!

OC Register

Jeff Motske

Jeff Motske ’88
 graduated from Vanguard with a Business degree and reputation as a dedicated star baseball player.  He is currently the president of Trilogy Financial Services in fountain Valley.  He grew up living in the Orange County area and has continued to raise a family in the area after graduation as well as quickly gaining rapid success in his own financial business.  His success has only grown, both professionally and personally.  With coaching his children’s sports teams, playing on a softball team with his dad for 30 years, keeping up regular date nights and family times, Motske has definitely made an impression within the community of Orange county as achieving the balanced life.

His secret?  Jeff Motske says that he has a game plan for every day and challenges himself with the question – “What did I do that was productive today?”

In the OC Register article, Jeff Motske is an example of balance, motivation, and commitment
in every aspect of his life.

Read the full length article in the OC Register- News.

Coffee 1

Alumni Spotlight: NEAT Coffee with Ally Garvin

Ally 2It is very rare that you come across a Vanguard student that does not enjoy coffee, which is why we are so excited about the new coffee shop in the area that has been opened by our very own Alumni, Ally Garvin ’09.  We had the opportunity to hear Ally’s story, how she ended up at Vanguard and what pushed her to pursue her dream of opening a coffee shop in Costa Mesa. Ally grew up in Colorado with dreams of moving to the West coast and out of her land locked state.  After touring other colleges in Southern California that were not nearly as close to the beach, she quickly decided on Vanguard.  Her four years at Vanguard had a great impact on who she is today.

“My time outside of the classroom was just as influential as the time I spent sitting through great lectures and discussions.  Between friends, metnors and professors, I learned the importance of knowing myself and my strengths and understanding how I can uniquely play a part in what God is doing around me.  I learned how to be a good neighbor by walking alongside others to encourage them in using what they have to better their situation and their neighborhood.  I learned how to approach the world around me with a consistent and faith filled worldview and I will be forever grateful for my time here.”

Through Vanguard, Ally met some of her closest friends along with her husband, David Garvin ’09.  Shortly after graduating and getting married, Ally and DAvid moved to Uganda to work with Krochet Kids and 31 Bits which was fundamental to the shaping of their marriage.  During their year of traveling around Uganda, they were able to visit a coffee farm in the Mount Elgon region.  They were able to give a tour of the land and see every stage of the coffee bean from the cherry on the tree to stripping away the parchment to drying the beans to roasting them over a campfire and finally grinding and steeping those coffee beans in a French press the next morninCoffee 2g.  This full circle experience combined with Ally’s love for community and the way that coffee brings people together birthed a dream to one day own a coffee shop in what she now considers to be her home- Costa Mesa.  Since moving back to Costa Mesa, she worked at three different coffee shops learning and preparing for the day that she would be able to branch out on her own.  About two months ago, Ally’s dream was turned into a reality when she opened “Neat Coffee.”

Ally describes Neat Coffee as “Simple. Good coffee, good service, good community.”  Her goal is to let the coffee experience remain approachable and friendly, warm and inviting.  For the time being, Ally plans for Neat Coffee to remain a pop-up shop while she gains momentum.  As time goes on, she is striving to create a common space for people to gather.

“Shared spaces are vital for healthy neighborhoods and I plan to help create that type of space where everyone is welcome.  It will give local residents, students, business men and women, foodies and artists room to connect, dream and plan ways to better their community and see themselves as an integral part in a bigger story while they sip on the best coffee in town.” 

If you are in the Costa Mesa area, don’t forget to stop by Neat Coffee at Wayfare and enjoy the “good coffee, good service, and good community.”


Joyce LaPointe ’91

Seeing how God is using Vanguard Alumni is incredible, and Joyce LaPointe ’91 is no exception.  She attended Vanguard University on an athletic scholarship for basketball and softball and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Kinesiology.  After graduating Vanguard, Joyce began her career in 1997 with Costa mesa police in 1997.  She was hired out of the orange Cuonty sheriff Academy and then worked in patrol, as a field training, bike patrol, traffic and tactical flight officer and as a defensive tactics instructor.  In 2006, she earned her private helicopter license.  As sergeant, she managed patrol teams, the Field Officers Training Program, jail operations, emergency management, and Force Tactics training. She is also the recipient of the Mothers against Drunk Drivers Century Award and a Life Saving Merit award.

Recently, in September, 18-year police veteran Joyce LaPointe moved into the role of lieutenant, marking the first time a female has held that title in the city of Costa Mesa.

I really don’t look at it as blazing a trail.  there have been so many females and so many great leaders who have come before me.  They [female officers before her] did all the work.  it’s more along the lines of paying it forward for them.  It’s now my turn to take the baton and keep moving forward with it.

-Joyce LaPointe

In her new role, LaPointe will be the commander for Area 1, which is the southern end of town, and will be charged with overseeing patrol officers and quality of life issues for residents and business owners.  She was officially sworn in at 9 a.m. Wednesday September 16.

Joyce has received much praise and compliments as she entered into this new position. However, this isn’t the first time that she has made history in the department.  She and Sgt. Stephanie Selinske were the department’s first female DUI enforcer officers.  In the first three months they had arrested 230 drunk drivers, which was big back then.  She was promoted to corporal in 2002 and then sergeant in 2007.

We are so proud of Joyce LaPointe and cannot wait to see how she continues to use her God-given talents.

Academy Class of 216 Graduation Ceremony.

Police Academy Graduate: Kevin Christianson ’13

Academy Class of 216 Graduation Ceremony.
After graduation, Kevin Christianson ’13, began to pursue a career in law enforcement.  For 26 weeks, Kevin and 33 other members of Class 216 endured stress training, physical training, as well as learning how to use firearms, arrest control techniques, and communication skills.

On August 27, 2015 Kevin ’13 graduated from what is considered one of the “toughest and most professional police academies in the nation.”  Not only did he graduate, but he graduated 1st in his class.

We are so proud of our Alumni and can’t wait to see where God takes Kevin ’13 as he continues his journey at the Costa Mesa Police Department.


The Created Co.

ryanWhen leaving Vanguard it is our hope that one graduates with the necessary skills, insight, and knowledge to pursue the things that God has called them to.  After graduation, Ryan Schneider ’13, was able to pursue his dream of starting his own business called The Created Co where they design inspirational drink ware, giving 10% towards their water campaign through charity.

  “We believe that every person has been created. 

Each of us created for a certain purpose — a purpose to fulfill and to live out on this earth. 

So then, we ask this question ‘What were you created for?'”

-The Created Co.anchor my soul

Vanguard students and graduates know all too well that some of the “most meaningful moments occur alongside a drink.  Whether that’s the early morning moments with your cup of coffee when you’re most inspired.  Or connecting with your closest friends at a local coffee shop.”  The goal of this company is to take those meaningful moments and remind ourselves what we were created for.  Based on truth, community, and empowerment, Ryan ’13 and Jeremy have started something that they are passionate about with the hope of inspiring “the dreamers of the world to overcome the ordinary, connect with a community of like-minded people,and empower others both locally and globally.”

To learn more about this company, visit their website:  or check out their Instagram page: @thecreatedco.


Special Olympics


The city of Costa Mesa proudly declared its official partnership with Vanguard University to participate in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games “Host Town” program. Vanguard will host over one hundred Special Olympics athletes from Aruba and the Bahamas on its Costa Mesa campus on July 21-24, 2015.  The athletes will reside in Vanguard University dormitories and will utilize the practice field for training.

“The Host Town program will not only create lasting memories for these athletes and coaches from around the world, but leave a lasting legacy for the communities who are opening their doors, hearts and minds to host these inspiring athletes.” -Patrick McClenahan, president and chief executive officer of LA2015, the Games Organizing Committee

The City of Costa Mesea joins as many as 100 communities across Southern California on the list of officially proclaimed Host Towns.  the Orange County Host Towns for the pre-Games celebration include fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Mission Viejo, La Habra, Fullerton, and Orange.  

“Vanguard University has a deep history in the City of Costa Mesa and an esteemed tradition of athleticism and sportsmanship through our NAIA Division I men and women athletic programs, As such, we welcome this natural partnership with the City of Costa Mesa to co-host a delegation of athletes from the 2015 Special Olympics World Games.” -David Vazquez, director of strategic partnerships at Vanguard University

With 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches expected to participate this summer, the Host Town program is a very significant 3-day program.  It takes place prior to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games as a complete welcome roll out.  Delegations of athletes from around the world will be welcomed and celebrated at the city of Costa Mesa Host Town, specifically on the Vanguard University campus.  Athletes from Orange County will also complete as part of Team USA, as well as volunteer as ambassadors for The Games.

Vanguard is so excited for the opportunity to play a part in this year’s Special Olympics World Games!

For more information on the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit

– Contact for volunteer and additional info: David Vazquez, Director of Strategic Partnerships, / 714.966.5467


City Appoints Vanguard University Alumnus, Costa Mesa Captain Robert Sharpnack, as Police Chief

[Article taken from City of Costa Mesa website]

Costa Mesa, CA, May 28, 2015 – Robert Sharpnack, a 22-year veteran of the Costa Mesa Police Department has been hired as Costa Mesa’s new Police Chief.

Sharpnack started his career in Costa Mesa as a Custody Officer in 1993 and was appointed as a Police Officer for the Department in 1994. He was promoted to Corporal in 2002 and Sergeant in 2003. Subsequently, he was promoted to Lieutenant in 2010 and Captain in 2013. He has extensive field experience including patrol, field training officer, crimes against persons detective, motorcycle Sergeant, special events detail, and managing all areas of police services. In addition, he was a supervisor of the Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) for three years and a member of the S.W.A.T. team for six years.

Sharpnack has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Vanguard University where he graduated Summa Cum Laude.

Regarding Sharpnack’s appointment, City CEO Tom Hatch said, “Rob has been a valuable member of the Police Department and the City organization for many years. His commitment to providing outstanding police services in an efficient and effective manner is exemplary. He is a man of integrity who will do an outstanding job leading this department. I am looking forward to working with him in his new role and the leadership he will provide not only to the Police Department but to the entire organization, as well as the City Council and Community.”

His official start date in this new position is June 28th. Sharpnack’s annual salary will be $196,860.

Sharpnack is married to his wife Stephanie for 8 years and they have two children Colin and Elyse.

Sharpnack will take the place of Interim Chief Ron Lowenberg who has been directing and guiding the Department since the beginning of this year.

To request an interview, contact:

Erin Hales, Director of Marketing & Communications


Vanguard University (VU) is a regionally ranked, private, Christian university of liberal arts and professional studies. Located ten minutes from Newport Beach and an hour from Los Angeles, Vanguard equips students for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service. Vanguard is committed to academic excellence, boasting small class sizes that are designed to cultivate lasting professor-mentor relationships that enhance the learning process. The U.S. News & World Report ranked Vanguard a top 12 regional college in the west and a top veteran-friendly college for 2015, and The Princeton Review ranked Vanguard a 2014 “Best in the West” regional college. Accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, Vanguard offers more than 30 degrees and certificates through its undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies programs. Please visit