Gratitude Week 2015

Words of gratitude fill and color cards at Vanguard University’s 2015 “Gratitude Week” as students thank donors for their life-changing contributions.












On April 6-10, Vanguard University hosted the 2015 “Gratitude Week” to encourage students to remember the support they have received and to thank the many donors who have financially contributed to student pursuits in higher education. “One of the amazing things about Vanguard is that 95 percent of students get support from someone else’s giving,” the alumni relations coordinator, Lauren Francis, said.

Along with funds to support and empower students academically, donors have contributed to The Pit (Vanguard’s gym), the weight room, equipment for athletic teams, the Veteran’s Courtyard outside of Scott Hall, the Lyceum Theater, and of course, the new Scott Building that is opening this fall.

Francis and others were there with the cards and some refreshments. These cards are a simple way for students to express their gratitude for the generosity of donors. For distribution, Vanguard’s alumni-relations team plans to send the cards with donors’ end-of-the-year giving statements. Learn more about “Gratitude Week,” by clicking here.



Five minutes with the new president of the Vanguard Alumni Association – Nicole Suydam


Nicole (Thompson) ’95 Suydam, is the CEO of  Second Harvest Food Bank – whose mission is to end hunger in Orange County. Second Harvest partners with more than 340 member charities to help feed more than 200,000 individuals each month. In addition to being a nationally recognized leader, Nicole is a wife and mother to two beautiful daughters.

Can you tell us a little bit about Second Harvest Food Bank?
Second Harvest Food Bank is dedicated to ending hunger for the nearly 400,000 people who are at risk of going hungry in Orange County, CA. Last year we provided the equivalent of over 17.6 million meals to our community.
What is most rewarding about your career?
I love the opportunity to make a positive impact on my community and I especially love mentoring and developing young people for nonprofit careers of service.
Who have been your biggest influences, and why?
My Mom and Grandmother have been by far the biggest influences on my life. My Mom raised me as a single mother and taught me the value of hard work no matter the challenges and encouraged me to become the first person in my family to attend and graduate from college. My Grandmother raised seven children as a single mother and is my inspiration to never give up and to always keep Christ at the center of my life.
Why did you choose Vanguard?
I was determined to attend a Christian college and I sensed God’s presence in a strong way during a chapel service when I was visiting the campus. I knew in that moment that God was leading me to Vanguard.
How did Vanguard impact who you are today?
My history and political science classes gave me an important world view and perspective and inspired a passion for working in politics early in my career which gave me the skills I needed for my career nonprofits.
Why have you chosen to be involved with Vanguard?
This year marks 20 years since I graduated and I am excited to give back and engage other Alums to serve and support Vanguard and help prepare the next generation of leaders for a life of service.
Is there one piece of career advice you received that you would like to share with our alumni?
Always be willing to go above and beyond what’s expected and you’ll build trust and respect with your leaders and colleagues.

Ashley and Scott Houston

Class Notes – Due March 27

Brian Burhenn

Vanguard Alumni: We are gathering Class Notes for the Spring/Summer 2015 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 –
1990sCristina Robeck
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!



Ashley and Scott Houston

Ashley (Brock ‘10) and Scott Houston ‘11 married at The Parker Ranch in June 2012, and currently live in Irvine. Scott is the creative media director for Sanctuary Belize, the #1 development company in Belize. He also continues to do freelance work for his own business, 32 Productions, editing spots and commercials for the Los Angeles Clippers. Ashley has started her own ETSY business, selling hand-sewn items and launched a lifestyle blog: Live Styled Live Creative. By far, the Houston’s biggest accomplishment and joy was the birth of their son, Jude on November 8, 2013.


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

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


Deadline is Friday, March 27. Please send any information to us by then! Photos (landscape orientation) 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:


Remembering Dr. Elizabeth Leonard

On May 18, Dr. Elizabeth Leonard passed away at her home in Ireland after a battle with cancer. Elizabeth taught at Vanguard University as a full-time faculty member in the department of Anthropology and Sociology for 14 years. Upon her retirement, Dr. Leonard was granted the status of Faculty Emerita.

Below is a letter from President Michael J. Beals regarding Dr. Leonard’s passing -

Dear Vanguard Community,

It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that beloved Vanguard professor Dr. Elizabeth Dermody Leonard passed away on Sunday, May 18 in Ireland, her home since retiring from Vanguard.

Dr. Leonard taught at Vanguard University as a full-time faculty member in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, serving as an Assistant Professor of Sociology from 1997 to 2002, and then as Associate Professor of Sociology from 2002 to 2007, and finally as Professor of Sociology from 2007 to 2011. She delivered and expanded the Sociology curriculum to include areas of specialization in gender and crime, the sociology of women, corrections, family violence and juvenile delinquency, and played in integral role in helping grow the Sociology major to one hundred majors.

Dr. Leonard sustained a robust research agenda during her tenure at Vanguard University, producing a book (Convicted Survivors: The Imprisonment of Battered Women Who Kill, State University of New York Press, 2002), four book chapters and nine articles in peer-reviewed journals. She was widely recognized as an expert on issues related to battered women in prison and domestic violence, and as such, was invited to present research, guest lecture, provide expert witness testimony, and give various public presentations on seventy different occasions, and in diverse institutional settings and locales in the United States and Europe.

She served Vanguard University faithfully by being a tireless leader and advocate of interdisciplinary collaboration, which included serving as the Co-Director of Vanguard University’s Center for Women’s Studies from 2002 to 2005. She advised, counseled, and mentored countless numbers of students who, upon graduating from Vanguard University, followed her example by pursing vocations that advance the public good.

Elizabeth was highly respected, admired and regarded by the students at Vanguard University, who voted her the Faculty Member of the Year for 1999-2000, and again as Faculty Member of the Year for 2006-2007. Over the years students have consistently expressed their affection for her and their appreciation of her guidance and support.

Upon her retirement, Dr. Leonard was granted the status of faculty emerita. Dr. Leonard was a devoted colleague and friend and will be greatly missed.

Please keep Dr. Leonard’s family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Serving with you,


In honor of legacy, we invite you to give a gift to the Elizabeth Dermody Leonard Memorial Fund! This fund will -

  • Establish a grant to fund media and arts that extend the reach and impact of her domestic violence research as depicted in Life Without Parole and Sin By Silence.
  • Expand the Global Center for Women & Justice at Vanguard University in the Vanguard University Library.
  • Launch an annual scholarship for a domestic violence survivor returning to complete a degree in Vanguard University School for Graduate Professional Studies.
  • Fund a research stipend for grad students pursuing research on family violence or violence against women.

Donations can be made here:


In honor of her legacy, we invite you to give a gift to the Elizabeth Dermody Leonard Memorial Fund! Donations can be made here:

Global Center for Women & Justice at Vanguard University
(714) 966-6360 |


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.


#vuValentine Winners



L-O-V-E is in the air! Special thank you to everyone who participated in Vanguard University’s first-ever #vuValentine contest!  We had over 165 people participate and share with us their Vanguard love story.

Here are our five winners:

Scott ’11 and Ashley (Brock ’10) Houstonscott&ashley

“It was Mike Beals’ “Foundations of Christian Living” class. I sat behind him and he would let photos run across his laptop screensaver of his high school football days and snowboarding trips. Of course the screen was always turned at just the right angle so that I had the best view of the images of him. I tease him about it now, but it obviously worked! 7 Years, an engagement, a wedding and one sweet little baby boy later, I still have the best view! Here’s to forever with my #vuvalentine. Thank you for introducing us, Vanguard University of Southern California.”

Tim ’12 and Korrie (Hansen ’05) Lukei 


“First comes Love, Then comes Marriage, then comes two sweet babies! 11 years ago today, Tim took me on our first date at the blue beet! Happy Valentines day! I’m proud to call you my #vuValentine! Love you!”






Garret ’92 and Lisa (Ferrario ’94) Northway

“Garrett and I met in Professor Ronald Wright’s Hermeneutics class Fall of 1989 and my first VU class. The picture I posted ended up being our Garrett&Lisaengagement picture as Garrett proposed during the winter formal just prior for the call for engaged couples to be announced officially. Obviously I said yes and during Christmas Break Garrett came to my hometown and properly asked both my father and stepfather permission to marry me. This year we celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Our VU years were critical early family development years. They are rich in memories and experiences and we cherish them deeply.”




Nick and Brittany (Cromelin) Peterson ’10

Nick&Brittany“7.5 years ago my #vuvalentine walked into my life during Frontline week – we got engaged 6 years ago tomorrow on Valentine’s Day itself and now to think we have a Peterson addition on the way! Vanguard University of Southern California deserves many thanks for kindling this amazing relationship with Nick.”






Keith and Brittney (Riley) Tanaka ’10Keith&Brittney

 “Happy Valentine’s Day! ️I am so thankful I met my #vuValentine by the Cafe 6 years ago! We built amazing friendships at Vanguard University- 13 of them joined us on our wedding day. We are so proud to be Vanguard University Alumni.”






Thanks to all of our participants. We love our #vuValentines.  Click here to see photos of all of the participants.  Hope to see even more stories next year!

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Alumni Gatherings

washington 7Over the past two months, the Alumni office has been on the road to Palm Desert, Phoenix, and Washington D.C.  While the Alumni office was in these major cities, we had the opportunity to host gatherings open to all Alumni in the area.  The dinners were a huge success with 15-25 people in attendance at each.

While in Washington D.C., Alumni were able to meet other Alumni while enjoying a meal at a restaurant on Capital Hill.

In Phoenix, Alumni ate lunch together and then drove over to Arizona Christian University, where more Alumni arrived, as the Alumni were able to cheer on the Vanguard Lions in the basketball game.

At each gathering, Alumni and friends were able to connect and share how Vanguard has impacted them and their families.  The diversity of careers and backgrounds highlighted how God has used Vanguard to train and equip our alumni for a wide variety of careers.  Each person was able to share how people and programs forever impacted their lives.

Thanks to everyone who came out!  We hope to see even more Alumni at our next gathering.



If you would like to host an Alumni gathering in your area, feel free to call Vanguard University’s Alumni office to get more information!


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. 


Homecoming 2015 Recap

Homecoming 2015 on January 28–31 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 2015 Homecoming weekend.

Alumni speakers and worship leaders were featured throughout the week’s Chapel services. Tuesday, January 27, kicked off with Faith (Wecker ’12) Dunsterville, Noah McKeown ’13, Brandi Becker ’10, Dustin Ginn ’10, Billy Pruden ’10-’12, Josh Schaffer, and Josh Taylor  leading the Vanguard community in worship. Our guest speaker for Tuesday’s chapel was Darren Rouanzoin ’06, pastor of The Garden Church in Long Beach. On Wednesday, January 28, worship was led by Tully Wilkinson ’13, Lauren Francis ’10, Jason Valverde ’10, Noah McKeown ’13, Tyler Spry ’15, and Omar Ahemd. Josh Harrison ’99, teaching pastor at ROCKHARBOR Church joined us as the guest speaker for the morning.

The last Homecoming Alumni Chapel took place on Thursday, January 29, and we were honored to meet and celebrate our Alumni Award Winners. Check out more about each of the award winners in this special Alumni Award Winners Article!

There is nothing like the energy that comes when current students and alumni are able to have a blast together. This year, the annual “VU’s Got Talent” show featured two special alumni acts and a panel of alumni judges. Be sure to check out In The Wilderness – a duo comprised of Jenny Payne ’11 and Jesse Hawkins ’12.




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Artists from the Vanguard community showed up on Friday night for a special Art Show hosted by Vanguard’s very own Professor Emeritus – Keith Ewing. Artists including alumni, parents of current students, current students, and many others displayed artwork in the Great Commission Hall/Heath Rotunda. Another highlight of the evening was the Student Photography Contest winners and participants that each had photos displayed in the show. Vanguard has some very talented photographers!

Saturday, January 31, was a big day here on Vanguard’s campus! Events went all day long, starting with the annual Run for Mercy 5K! This year, Vanguard alumni, students, faculty, staff and even the surrounding Vanguard community joined together 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.

Brock Family

Run for Mercy was a huge success! There were over 70 volunteers, 350 runners, and $7,000+ 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 the Brock Family  in the Campus Mall. Blues Lyne, performed while people enjoyed a meet and greet with Brock family and a delicious, well-earned lunch from the In-N-Out Truck. People were able to visit one of the many Vendor Boots and kids played in the Kids Zone. Check out the pictures from Run for Mercy to see all of the smiling faces.

The Vanguard Men & Women’s Basketball teams challenged Master’s College in the Pit. Current students, alumni, and other Vanguard fans packed the place and cheered on both teams.

The ladies secured a victory of 72-58 , but the men fell behind in the fourth quarter to lose 70-65. 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 2016!