Alumni Memories: Christmas Fantasia

I have many wonderful memories from my time in the Vanguard University choirs, but one of my favorites is Christmas Fantasia. I remember starting to sing Christmas tunes well before it was “socially acceptable” to listen to Christmas music – something I was totally fine with (my roommates on the other hand, well, they had their own thoughts).

I always joked that Christmas didn’t truly start until we started the grand finale of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” at the end of the night. And I still feel that way today. One of the great things about being a local alumni is that I’ve gotten to attend Christmas Fantasia over the years since I’ve graduated. I still get emotional when we open with a candlelit rendition of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” I still laugh hysterically at the humor intertwined in the performance – a silly song sung by one of the groups, a cheeky piece from the guitar ensemble, or even the “jokes” made by the host of the evening. All of these elements bring back warm memories of Christmas Fantasia’s past.

As a student, I remember being in complete and utter shock that I was able to sing in such a stunning venue. I grew up singing the Pacific Chorale Children’s Choruses, so I was no stranger to performing in large concert venues, but this Concert Hall was on a whole different level. It was truly amazing to look out at the audience and see nearly 1000 faces looking back at me. There was nothing quite like it. All the long hours of rehearsal, lack of sleep, and vigorous preparation leading up to the concert paid off in the very moment we opened our mouths to sing the first note and were met with audience eyes full of wonder and delight.

But the true beauty in Christmas Fantasia is it really is a time for the Vanguard community and the general Costa Mesa arts community to join together. Since we’ve held the concert in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, it’s felt like a premiere arts performance that the whole community is a part of, not just Vanguard students, staff, faculty, and families. It transcends the walls of Vanguard University and puts Vanguard’s incredible music department on display in one of the most established and beautiful venues in Orange County. It truly is a remarkable opportunity for students performing and the community alike. and looking back, I can fondly say that Fantasia is something I always enjoyed doing and will continue to enjoy attending for years and years to come!

Lauren Francis ’10
Vanguard Choir Alumni


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#GivingTuesday 2014

About #GivingTuesday…

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, gifts to Vanguard University will support the Through These Doors campaign for the Scott Academic Center renovation and expansion. Thanks to a generous donor, all donations will be matched dollar for dollar so that your giving will have twice the impact. And gifts of $100 or more will be recognized on a special donor wall display inside the new academic center. This is an opportunity for you to leave your mark in a tangible way at Vanguard. IG

 About the Through These Doors campaign…

The Scott Academic Center is the hub of student services including admissions, financial aid, accounting, and the registrar offices. Gifts of any amount will help us reach the finish line of our $7,000,000 goal—we are less than $170,000 away! Gifts will go to support:

How can you help?

On December 2, we invite the Vanguard community (current students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends) to make a gift of any size to the Through These Doors campaign in conjunction with #GivingTuesday. Gifts of $100 or more will be included on a special “donor wall” in the building. But no matter the size of the gift, the goal is to get alumni to participate and give back to their alma mater. Visit vanguard.edu/givingtuesday.

Be a #GivingTuesday “Champion”:

  1. Making a donation of any amount
  2. Taking an “unselfie” picture of yourself with a sign that says “I support Vanguard because_________________” and post to your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter with the hashtag #GivingTuesday #@VanguardU
  3. Nominating someone else in the Vanguard community to make a gift as well. Let them know they have until 12 midnight on December 2.

When do we need your participation?

We’d love to snap a picture of you prior to December 2 so we already have a strong social media presence when the day begins. Please send us a photo of you (or if you’re local, we can come snap one!) that we can post on December 2? Then post it on your own accounts and tag as many people as you can think of on the actual day! Here is an example:



Office of Alumni Relations
(714) 966-5494 | alumni@vanguard.edu


Homecoming 2015


Homecoming 2015 Schedule of Events

Bring your family, friends, and fellow Vanguard Alumni… 
We hope you plan to “come home” on January 28-January 31, 2015. Mark your calendars today!


Thursday, January 29

9:30 AM                  Alumni Awards Chapel (NMC) 

The Homecoming Alumni Awards Chapel is a chance to honor our awardees of 2015:

Alumnus of the Year: Tony and Kathy (Vawter)  Salerno ’66

Distinguished Service Award: Wayne Turner and Sylvia (Pipkin ’64) Turner ’70

Young Alumnae of the Year: Kallie (Dovel ’08) Thomson, Alli (Swanson ’09) Talley, Jessie Simonson ’09, Anna (Nelson ’09) Toy, and Brooke Hodges ’09 (founders of 31 Bits

8 PM                       VU’s Got Talent (NMC)

Who will be crowned Vanguard’s most talented student? Come find out at the talent show of all talent shows. There will be featured alumni performers including “In the Wilderness” and a panel of alumni judges. This will be a night of laughs and a great time of showcasing the Vanguard community’s most talented performers.

Friday, January 30

5-9 PM                   Art Show (Heath Rotunda/Great Commission Hall) 

Join us for this FREE event, and have the opportunity to purchase most of the artwork on display (cash or check only). There will be artwork from featured community artists, Vanguard faculty, Vanguard staff, and Vanguard Alumni. There will also be a special student photography contest happening as well, and those photos will be on display.  We look forward to celebrating our Vanguard artists with you!

*If you would like to participate in the Student Photography Contest, please email lauren.francis@vanguard.edu for information and submission guidelines. 

Saturday, January 31

9 AM                         Registration and Check-in (Needham Chapel)

Come register and sign in for the 5K!

10 AM     5K Run for Mercy – Benefiting John Brock ’04 and in memory of Laura (Ely ’04) Brock

Come enjoy a fun run, walk, jog or skip to support the Brock Family! This past year, Laura fought a difficult lung disease known as Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis. In the midst of the fight, John began to reach out to his friends and family. As texts and phone calls became too overwhelming, he started a Facebook page that would share Laura’s updates. As Laura battled. her condition worsened, and following a double lung and heart transplant, her body could simply fight no more. Join with alumni, friends, and family as we support the Brock family and celebrate Laura’s legacy. RSVP & DONATE HERE.

There will also be a classic car show happening on campus, and you can register your car here.

 11  AM                        Homecoming Celebration Party (Campus Mall)

Upon finishing your 5K, join us for a meet and greet with the Brock family, live music from Blues Lyne, Kid Zone, vendor fair, and an In-N-Out Truck! 

1 PM                              Basketball Camp (The Pit) 

The Vanguard University Men’s Basketball program will host this free, one hour clinic. The clinic will take place in “The Pit”, the legendary gym on Vanguard’s campus. The Men’s Basketball coaching staff, as well as a handful of current Vanguard Lions, will coach and train boys and girls ages 6-15. 

Walk-up registration is available for this event (you will need to fill out a waiver for your child). 

2 PM                              Soccer Camp (Soccer Field) 

The Vanguard University Soccer program will host this free, one hour clinic. The clinic will take place on the brand new soccer fields! The Soccer coaching staff, as well as a handful of current Vanguard Lions, will coach and train boys and girls ages 6-15.

Walk-up registration is available for this event (you will need to fill out a waiver for your child). 

5:30 PM & 7:30 PM      Women & Men’s Basketball vs. The Masters College (The Pit)

Cheer on our Vanguard Lions as we challenge The Masters College! Vanguard Concert Choir will be singing the National Anthem and the Alumni Upperdeck will be open during both games (snacks, giveaways, gathering with fellow alumni!) 

Cost is $6 for adults, $3 kids; CASH only. Tickets may be purchased at the door.


Office of Alumni Relations

(714) 966-5494 | alumni@vanguard.edu

** Check our Facebook & Twitter pages for Homecoming giveaways and prizes! **


Allie and Garth Harris

Class Notes – by October 3

class notes header

Vanguard Alumni: we are gathering Class Notes for the Fall/Winter issue of the Vanguard Magazine! They are the most-read section of the magazine, so we want to make sure as many Alumni are included as possible.

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

Let us know what you’ve been up to since you graduated. Other information to include: Did you receive another degree? How about a promotion? Have you moved to a different state? Did you celebrate a special anniversary recently? Where have you traveled to? What has your church, family, and/or company been up to? All of this information helps as we write your Class Note for the Vanguard Magazine!

AN EXAMPLE:   Allie (Maxwell ’08) and Garth Harris ‘07 welcomed Audrey Carol into the world on July 8, 2013. Garth works for a software company in Newport Beach called CAKE, which is a tracking and analytics platform that allows companies to optimize online performance marketing. In May 2013, Garth was promoted to Client Services Director, Europe which brought the Harris’ to London where they have been happily living for almost a year now.

Now, HOW do you submit a Class Note? Don’t worry, it’s easy…

  1. Online at Vanguard Alumni website:  http://www.vanguard.edu/alumni/submit-a-class-note-2/
  2. Email: alumni@vanguard.edu with Subject: My Class Note
  3. Mail: Vanguard University c/o Alumni Relations, 55 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Deadline is Friday, October 3. Please send any information to us by then! 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.

Check out other Vanguard Magazines online here: http://www.vanguard.edu/about/alumni-magazine/

Legacy Family Event Photo

Legacy Family Reception

Legacy Family Event Photo

Join us for a complimentary brunch with President Beals as we celebrate family
and the launch of the renovations of the Scott building!


Brunch & Legacy Family reception
10AM-12PM | Veterans Courtyard (Scott Building)

After brunch, there will be an opportunity for our Legacy families to be able to leave their mark in a tangible way. We will also take a group photo.

Please RSVP by Wednesday, October 1 to – https://connect.vanguard.edu/event/launch

Check out a recap article from last year’s Legacy Family Reception.

Office of Alumni Relations
(714) 966-5494 | alumni@vanguard.edu

Legacy Family Reception Invite



Dr. James Woodrow, the Traveling Professor


We are so proud of the caliber of our Vanguard Faculty!
Learn more about Dr. James Woodrow, professor in the Department of Business and Management.


Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I had the privilege of growing up in a beautiful region of Pennsylvania known for its Amish, Mennonite, and Quaker communities. Living in and among a faith community that valued intentionality and spiritual depth provided me with the foundation for a lifestyle that is simple and God-centered.   After graduating from high school, I attended David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University), and later earned my master’s degrees at Peabody College and the University of Southern California. I eventually earned a doctorate at Vanderbilt University.

My career has been very diverse. In addition to higher education, God has called me into a variety of professional, management, and consulting roles. In each aspect of my career, I can clearly see God’s provisional hand.


Article-Bio-PhotoAfter graduation, you became involved in smuggling Bibles into the USSR. Tell us more about that experience.

After graduating from college, among several opportunities I prayerfully decided to spend the summer in the mission field. My experience was unique in that a handful of friends and I travelled with a missionary who was passionately committed to smuggling Bibles across the Iron Curtain. At the time, the governments of the USSR were opposed to the radical message of Jesus Christ, and many believers suffered long imprisonments due to their beliefs. I still remember the feelings and emotions of anxiousness and excitement as we crossed Communist borders as tourists while travelling in a beat-up Winnebago. We had Bibles printed in the Russian language hidden in special compartments. It was definitely a life-changing experience for me.

On the other side of the Iron Curtain, the culture shock was nothing short of dramatic. We met with underground Christians in Soviet-style apartments, where the family patriarch turned up the radio volume to muffle our voices while we quietly sang and prayed together, all while anxiously hoping the neighbors wouldn’t report us to the KGB. We also learned how Russian Christians wrapped their Bibles in newspapers to appear that they were returning from the market in order to avoid being harassed as they walked home from church. Adjusting to the literal interpretation of the holy kiss, on the lips, by both brother and sister in Christ, was another challenge, as was being served soup at the family table, usually borscht, and being told that “the louder we slurped, the greater the compliment.”


How did you decide on being a professor?

I had never planned on becoming a fulltime professor. I enjoyed teaching, but saw an adjunct role as a valuable way to connect with students, while pursuing another career. My career path is another example of how important it is to be open to God’s plan for us.


Article-Europe.SnowWho have been your biggest influences, and why?

I’ve been blessed with countless individuals who have influenced me personally and professionally over the course of my life. Being a lifelong learning is incredibly important to me. I have enjoyed looking for lessons that everyone, in all stations of life, can teach me, and have become convinced that we’re never too old to learn from others.


What brought you to Vanguard University?

Higher education took me overseas, as I lived and worked in London, England. Upon returning to the States in 2002, I returned to my consulting practice and also began inquiring with Christian colleges in the area about adjunct teaching opportunities. From that inquiry and subsequent conversations, I was invited to join VU in a tenure-track position, and a decade later, I continue to feel genuinely blessed that God has called me to Vanguard.


Article-GroupWhat do you most appreciate about our community?

Over the years, I’ve learned that I especially enjoy working in small communities, such as Vanguard, and with Vanguard there is the added bonus and blessing of our rich Christian heritage and mission. Vanguard creates a sense of belonging where we can each support and encourage one another, while striving to make a difference in our students’ lives. The people at Vanguard are here because we care about the Lord, and about each other.


You are known as an avid traveler. What do you enjoy most about traveling?

When I think about my passion for travel, the words adventure, exploration, new, and different always come to mind. My lifelong desire to explore new countries and cultures has always driven my choice of places to visit. In the good and the challenging aspects of traveling, I am continually challenged and grown in ways I couldn’t imagine. I want to see and experience as much as I can across this magnificent, God-created planet that we call home.


How did you get started in traveling?

I have always been interesting in foreign languages and cultures. In high school, I studied German for a year, then changed my language studies to Spanish, which gave me the opportunity to visit Spain and the Balearic Islands with my teacher and classmates. It was during this experience that the travel bug bit me, and since then, travel has been my passion.


Out of the 100 + countries you have visited, what are your top 5?

We world is truly an amazing and breathtaking place. Each country has been fascinating to visit, and consequently impossible to rank, so I’d like to list my favorite places around the world.


NATURArticle-WaterfallAL WONDERS

  • Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil
  • Okavango Delta, Botswana
  • Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe
  • Fjords and Arctic Circle, Norway
  • Lake Titicaca and Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
  • Cappadocia, Turkey
  • Alps and Matterhorn, Switzerland
  • Himalayas, Nepal
  • Fish River Canyon and Sossusvlei, Namibia
  • Amalfi Coast, Italy
  • Red Center and Uluru, Australia
  • Pantanal, Brazil
  • Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania



  • Palmyra and Crac des Chevaliers, SyriaArticle-Sand-house
  • Great Wall, China
  • Sphinx and Pyramids, Egypt
  • Machu Picchu, Peru
  • Petra, Jordan
  • Roman Coliseum, Italy
  • Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, Turkey
  • Taj Mahal, India
  • Parthenon, Greece
  • Eiffel Tower, France
  • Angkor Wat, Cambodia
  • Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral, Russia
  • Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
  • Chichen Itza, Mexico


Is there one piece of advice you received, that you now share with your students?

Dream, but don’t let those dreams define you – God may very well have different plans for you,
so be open to surprises and enjoy the journey!

Click here to learn more about Dr. Woodrow.