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

“Breathing for Laura”

Brock Family

Please pray for John ’04 and Laura (Ely ’04) Brock and their family.

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 has undergone multiple tests, doctor and hospital visits, and is currently in ICU Fully Intubated and on a Ventilator, as she awaits a double-lung transplant.

A Brock family member wrote: “When we are stressed or under pressure, we’re told to “TAKE A DEEP BREATH” Ironically, this is exactly what Laura struggles to do daily, to simply be able to take a breath. We ask that you take a Breath for Laura!”

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


Homecoming 2014 Recap

Homecoming 2014

Homecoming 2014

Homecoming 2014 on January 30–February 1 featured MANY exciting events and familiar faces back on campus! It was a blessed time full of fellowship and opportunities for alumni to reconnect! It was great to see alumni, current students, families, faculty, and staff share their Vanguard stories while enjoying the many fun events happening during 2014 Homecoming weekend.

Alumni speakers and worship leaders were featured throughout the week’s Chapel services. Tuesday, January 29, kicked off with Amanda Houston ’09, Josh Houston ’08, Dustin Ginn ’10, Bobby Laumea and Adam Gil leading the Vanguard community in worship. Our guest speaker for the remainder of chapel was Wayne Tesch ’04, co-founder of Royal Family Kids Camp which was developed in 1985 as a residential camp for some of the most severely abused children in foster care. Wayne received his Master’s degree in Church Leadership Studies from Vanguard and was an Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. We were honored to have him discuss with the community Vanguard’s impact on his life!

On Wednesday, January 29, worship was led by Jerad Atherton ’04 along with Aaron Andersen ‘11, Brandon Langworthy ‘04, Kyle Mack, Matt Ballmaier. Tina Ramirez ‘99, MA ’01, the 2014 Young Alumna of the Year Award Recipient, presented her story to Vanguard students during chapel. Tina is the President and Founder of Hardwired, Inc., a non-profit organization bringing hope to those under religious oppression by advancing religious freedom in law and policy worldwide.  Hardwired is using a new paradigm to create a grassroots movement to inspire the next generation of religious freedom advocates. We were thankful that Tina was willing to be a chapel guest speaker during Homecoming week and were honored to present her an award to recognize all of her incredible achievements!

The last Homecoming Alumni Chapel took place on Thursday, January 30, where Brandon Muchow ’11 led the congregation of students, faculty, staff and alumni in worship. Then, the 2014 Career Achievement Award Recipient, Dr. Dennis Gordon Lindsay ’69, shared a little about himself. Dr. Lindsay is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Christ for the Nations, Inc., a worldwide missions organization and Bible Institute headquartered in Dallas, TX.  He is the youngest son of the late Gordon Lindsay, founder of Christ for the Nations, and Freda Lindsay, co-founder. We look forward to see what God has in store for Dr. Lindsay’s future!IMG_5219

Thursday evening was a special night on Vanguard’s campus – Delivery Boys & Entourӓge celebrated 25 years of ministry through laughter! These ministry teams have served across the Western United States for a number of years, their mission to connect with young men and women through humor, worship and study. Emily (Maier ’03) Rose and Christopher Tillman ’02, served as the shows’ hosts and brought just as many laughs as they did when they were a part of Delivery Boys & Entourӓge teams themselves! We enjoyed performances from various Delivery Boys & Entourӓge teams and also were pleased to announce the current teams who closed us out! THANK YOU to all who have been a part of this ministry for the past 25 years – we have enjoyed all of the hilarious memories and look forward to what’s to come!

The Athletic Hall of Fame took place on Friday evening, January 31. We were pleased to induct many valuable Champions of Character who have done a phenomenal job of embodying Gold Pride even after their Vanguard days. 2014 Inductees are as follows:

VU Athletic HoF-14-069

Russ Davis

Athlete: Kevin Carlson ‘96

Teams: 1990 Basketball Team & 1995 Softball Team

Meritorious Service: Diane Ortiz

It was exciting to see the current Vanguard Lions come together with athletes of the past – as the years go on, one thing about Vanguard remains constant: Gold Pride! Check out pictures from the Athletic Hall of Fame here.

Saturday, February 1, was a big day here on Vanguard campus! Events went all day long, starting with our biggest event of the whole weekend – the second annual Run for Mercy 5K! This year, Vanguard alumni, students, faculty, staff and even the surrounding Vanguard community joined together to support Edmond Segrove, son of Adonis and Candace (Wong ’02) Segrove. Edmond, 2 years old, suffers from a rare brain disorder called “lissencephaly,” causing Edmond to experience seizures, muscle spasms, and difficulty with swallowing. Immense emotional and financial burden has been brought on the Segrove family, which is why we were moved to hold a run for a reason.

VU 5K run-14-010

VU 5K run-14-280

VU 5K run-14-355

Run for Mercy was a huge success! There were over 70 volunteers, close to about 200 runners and $3,000+ raised! The Doyle family also made an appearance at this year’s 5K and Mercy provided her beloved artwork for the winners of the race!Upon finishing the 5K, participants were invited to a celebration for Edmond Segrove in the Campus Mall. A fun bluegrass band by the name of “Moonsville Collective,” featuring Seth Richardson ‘95, performed while people enjoyed a meet and greet with Segrove family, a delicious, well-earned lunch from the In-N-Out Truck, and kids played in the Kids Zone. We encourage you to keep Edmond in your prayers as he continues to receive medical care and attention. Check out the pictures from Run for Mercy to see all of the smiling faces running for an incredible reason!

This year we honored our Alumni Award Recipients and the Class of 1964 as the newest inductees of the Golden Vanguard Society at a Homecoming Alumni Chapel in Needham Chapel. The fabulous Vanguard Singers and Band opened the service with a time of worship. Following, Joel Gackle MBA ‘10, Director of Alumni Relations, along with members of the Alumni Association Board, presented awards to the 2014 Alumni Award Recipients:

VU Alumni-Year-14-264

Alumnus of the Year:

Tommy Casarez ’94 

Career Achievement Award:
Dennis Lindsay ‘69

Distinguished Service Award:
Dan Myers ’57

Young Alumna of the Year:
Tina Ramirez ‘99, MA ’01

We were proud to induct various 1964 graduates into the Golden Vanguard Society, recognizing that these individuals have been Vanguard Alumni for 50 years. We are thankful for the continuing service to the Vanguard community!

The afternoon held various events, such as the “Girl Rising” screening and the Youth Basketball Camp in the Pit. At the same time, alumni from 1984 met for their 30 year reunion in the Great Commission Hall for mingling and refreshments. All events held laughs and reminiscing of Vanguard days, and we were glad with the outcome for every event on campus! Check out what these events were all about here.


The Vanguard Men & Women’s Basketball teams challenged Hope International University in the Pit that was packed with Blue and Gold fans.


First, the ladies held a continual home court advantage, winning with a score of 88-71. After our first victory, the Men’s team didn’t let us down. The entire game kept everyone one the edge of their seats, all the way into overtime! The Lions brought home another victory, the ending score 72-69. The Vanguard Concert Choir sang the National Anthem, and the Alumni Upperdeck was open during halftime of both games. What an exciting night after such an exciting, fun-filled day! To read more about your favorite VU Lions sports teams, check out Vanguard Athletic News.

Thanks to everyone who came and celebrated this Homecoming Weekend with us. We hope you had a great time reconnecting with former classmates and had a chance to meet some new friends. We enjoyed meeting you too!

For photos from our exciting Homecoming weekend, check out the Vanguard University Alumni Facebook Page!

We look forward to seeing you next year at
Homecoming 2015!

Tim Shaw ’89 and THINK Together

On Tuesday, March 5, Tim Shaw ’89 was named the Chief Development Officer of THINK Together. Congratulations, Tim!Tim Shaw

THINK Together, an acronym for “Teaching, Helping, Inspiring & Nurturing Kids,” is a successful, nonprofit education organization in California, also being one of the largest in the state. THINK Together provides early literacy, after-school, small group tutoring, summer learning, and many more academic support programs to students in need. This nonprofit serves over 100,000 students all over California, reaching school districts in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and many parts of the Sacramento area.

Tim looks forward to working with those a part of THINK Together, bringing more service and help to students in need. Tim graduated from Vanguard University majoring in history and political science. We’re so glad that he has been able to touch so many lives and become so successful after his time here at Vanguard!

To learn more about Tim and his career, THINK Together and before, follow:

Connect with Tim on LinkedIn: