The Created Co.

When 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




Cori Cook Floral Design in Martha Stewart Weddings

coricookOur very own, Cori Cook ’06, former Entourage girl and Vanguard choir singer, was featured in Martha Stewart’s Weddings as one of the Top Floral Designers to book for your wedding.  “To be named one of Martha Stewart Weddings Top Floral Designers in the country is beyond our wildest dreams.  It is a complete honor and highlight of an already highly anticipated 2015.  This “it” list includes designers that we greatly admire and respect and are daily inspired by, so to be named among them is just so wild.  If you are a flower nerd like us, you should probably follow every one of them on Instagram.  I promise you won’t be disappointed! “

Check it out in the latest issue (March 2015) of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine or online here.

We are so proud of our Alumni who made an impact during their time here, at Vanguard, and continue to do great things in everything they do today.


Nicole (Thompson ’95) Suydam

Our Vanguard Alumni continue to do great things in the community.  Recently, on January 28, 2015 Nicole (Thompson ’95) Suydam was featured on the City Square Pod Bean which is the regions only radio show tackling policy and politics.  Nicole Suydam is a non-profit executive with more than 16 years of experience in management and leadership positions working with local and national organizations that are dedicated to meeting human service needs.  She received her B.A. in History and Political Science from Vanguard University in 1995 and was awarded the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award in 2006.  She is currently the CEO of  Second Harvest Food Bank located, right here, in Orange County.  Click here to listen to the podcast she is featured in. 


Change Your Brain


Before Dr. Jesse Payne ’06, MA ’09 became the Director of Undergraduate Teacher Education at Corban University, and the Director of Education at the Amen Clinics, he was someone who witnessed the power of brain disorders and mental illness firsthand. Some researchers have the fortune of selecting an area of study simply due to interest, or on the advice of an advisor. For Dr. Payne, the complexity and pain associated with brain disorders seemed to choose him. Growing up, his parents who showered him with love and support, also revealed mental illness through issues such as schizophrenia, depression, and ADHD before his father took his life. The mystery of the developing mind wasn’t a far off concept; it was something that hit close to home.


Article-Jesse-and-DanielIn addition to being a professor and researcher, Dr. Payne recently released Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Before 25), and it has quickly received powerful feedback. The book, a follow-up to fellow Vanguard alumnus Dr. Daniel Amen’s ‘78 NY Times Bestseller, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, shows students, parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors how they can unlock the ability to shape the developing mind. What many parents and students don’t realize is that the brain continues to develop into the mid to late 20’s. By taking care of the developing mind and optimizing it now through lifestyle changes and training, you can help unlock your chances of achieving your most aspirational dreams.


As Jesse’s own mind was being shaped, it was his time at Vanguard that helped him refocus and push forward in his academic pursuits. He came to Vanguard as a transfer student from community college, where he had grown frustrated with higher education. It was at Vanguard where he felt like more than simply a student, he felt like a valued member of a community. Completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Vanguard’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies (SGPS), he knew he wasn’t alone – that there were others including professors and students who wanted him to succeed.


Vanguard was a place where he valued a diversity of viewpoints from professors and classmates alike. In the SGPS programs, he appreciated the diversity of thought, race, and faith backgrounds, all under the context of a Christian faith community. He contrasts his time at Vanguard, with his other schooling, including his doctoral degree from another institution. Professors at Vanguard bring real world experience, but they don’t just lecture and leave, they are open to connecting outside of the classroom – desiring to see students succeed.


Article-Change-Your-BrainDuring his master’s program, when considering what might be next, a transitioning coworker with multiple advanced degrees offered one piece of advice, “Keep learning, and keep happy.” The advice wasn’t a simple recipe for success, but rather advice from someone who recognized that Dr. Payne has an inquisitive mind. At the time, Dr. Payne wasn’t sure whether he should pursue a doctoral degree, but the advice helped him recognize his aspirations.


Spending time with Dr. Payne, you quickly realize he is a passionate and driven individual. More than anything, he hopes his research and book provides insights for young people who may be struggling, and adults who want to see their young person thrive. Never lose hope! The current reality does not need to be the long-term reality.

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Before 25) is available wherever books are sold.

Life Without Parole

“Life Without Parole”


Elizabeth LeonardWith the passing of our esteemed colleague and friend, Dr. Elizabeth Dermody Leonard, many of our alumni have asked how they can be part of remembering her legacy. While details surrounding her memorial are still in discussion we would like to share with you an impactful way for you to participate in remembering and furthering the work that Dr. Leonard was a part of. Warren Doody, Vanguard Professor of English, has teamed up with the New York Fringe Festival to produce the play he wrote based on Dr. Leonard’s work. Below is his letter to the community:


As many of you know, I wrote a play, “Life Without Parole,” that was inspired by Elizabeth Leonard’s research and book, “Convicted Survivors: The Imprisonment of Battered Women Who Kill.” Although it is essentially her work that is onstage, Elizabeth asked me to substitute “inspired” for “based on” or “adapted from” because she didn’t want to take too much credit for what I wrote, which perfectly sums up who she was as a person. In fact, Elizabeth first approached me about turning her life’s work into a stage play because she was looking for ways to expand her message of justice and believed that theater offered a wider audience for dong so.

In August, the play will be produced at the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival and, in honor of Elizabeth, the shows are being dedicated to her life and legacy. This dedication is featured on the website, on the campaign site, and in the brochures/programs at the festival. I know that Elizabeth would be thrilled with the creative team behind the Fringe Production: Working Artists Theater Project is the company that is putting on the play, which will be directed by one of their founders, Jessica Dermody, who, “coincidentally enough,” shares Elizabeth’s last name – well, her maiden name; the company is working in association with Karah Gravatt, a ’11 VU Theater Arts alum, who has been tireless in promoting the play and its message of domestic violence awareness.

As a way to raise money for the production, this team is crowdfunding the project. They are not asking for huge donations; the donations begin at $10.00 and go up from there, and it is 100% tax deductible. I have reached out via Facebook with this request, and some of you may have already seen a facsimile of this message on your newsfeed.

If you would be interested in making a donation, there are two sites at which to do so: - This is the play’s website, and there is a “donate” button/category on the home page. – This is the IndiGoGo site, and you can donate/contribute directly through the site.

In lieu of a donation, simply spreading the word by sharing these links via e-mail or on social media will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this!

Prayerfully and respectfully,

Warren Doody
Professor of English

Life Without

Obituary: Peter Lloyd Johnston ’97


By Peter Johnston’s Family

Peter Lloyd Johnston passed away unexpectedly from a rock-climbing accident on June 2, 2014. He was 38.

He was born on June 29, 1975, in the San Diego area. Raised in Poway, California, along with his two older sisters, Peter graduated from high school in 1993. He attended Vanguard University in Costa Mesa where he met his future wife, Jennifer Cannon.

Peter graduated in 1997 with a degree in Pastoral Care and Counseling and a minor in Business. Peter held his first pastoral position at Safe Harbor Church in Tustin while also working with children in a group home setting. This is where he met 5-year-old Mark, the special boy whom would later become Peter and Jennifer’s son.

Peter and Jennifer were married on October 25, 1997. In 2000, they moved to Desert Hot Springs where Peter was instrumental in starting a group home for boys, Father’s Heart Ranch, which continues to serve children to this day. It was there his love for the fatherless began to flourish. After their son Alex was born in 2003, Peter and Jennifer moved to the mountains where Peter became Worship Pastor at The Lighthouse Church in Mammoth Lakes. During that time, Peter entrepreneured a business called Mammoth Front Desk, and worked alongside his father to promote and franchise that dream.

For a time he also worked as the town Tax Collector and the Administrative Pastor of The Lighthouse Church. This is where their son, Aaron, was born in 2007. In 2009, the family moved to Kapa’au, Hawaii, where they continued to pursue new ministry and business opportunities. Their long-awaited daughter, Alyma Joy, was born in Hawaii in 2009. Leaving the islands in November of 2010, they later settled in Jennifer’s hometown of Redding, where Peter’s family still resides.

Peter is survived by his wife and four children, his mother and father, two sisters, and many nieces and nephews.

While we mourn his loss, we rejoice that he is with his Savior, the One he so passionately pursued. His contagious smile will be dearly missed, along with his music and creative business mind. We love you, Peter.


A memorial service in Redding will be held at the Twin View campus of Bethel Church on Thurs., June 12, at 1 p.m. In Mammoth Lakes, there will be a celebration of life at The Lighthouse Church on Thurs., June 26, at 2 p.m.

A memorial fund has been established for Peter’s family through Bethel Church, where gifts may be sent to this address: 933 College View Drive, Redding, CA 96003. Checks should be made payable to Bethel Church noting the code BR321PJ in the memo. Or call (530) 246-6000 extension 1446 and ask for Katherine.

Breathing for Laura (Ely) Brock ’04

Brock Family

Please pray for John Brock ’04 and his family as his wife Laura (Ely ’04) passed away earlier this month.

Last April, Laura underwent a lung biopsy and was diagnosed with an Interstitial Lung Disease called Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis. Over the course of the year, Laura underwent multiple tests, doctor and hospital visits, and was in ICU Fully Intubated and on a Ventilator, as she awaited a double-lung and heart transplant.

Laura’s memorial service will be held this Saturday, June 14 at Newport Mesa Church at 10 AM.

Newport Mesa Church
2599 Newport Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

To read more about the Brock’s story and also to stay updated, visit