Vanguard University will hold its Commencement ceremony on May 5 to celebrate the graduating class of 2017. Dr. Chip Espinoza, an alum of Vanguard University’s class of 2004, is set to address 555 graduates and attendees at this year’s ceremony at Mariners Church in Irvine.

Dr. Espinoza is the co-author of several notable books in which he discusses generational diversity in the workplace. He is referenced by many as an expert in integrating all generations into a thriving workforce and is recognized globally as a leading authority on generational diversity. Dr. Espinoza also works as a consultant, serving civic, corporate, and nonprofit clients. His clients include well-known organizations such as Boeing, Microsoft, Schneider Electric, and Special Olympics.

Espinoza has also been named part of the top 15 Global Thought Leaders by the Economic Times. He currently serves as the Academic Director of the Organizational Psychology and Nonprofit Leadership programs at Concordia University in Irvine.

“Chip Espinosa is a fantastic example of where a Vanguard education can take you,” said Dr. Michael Beals, president of Vanguard University. “He has modeled our core values of truth, virtue and service, and has excelled in equipping individuals from vanguard and beyond to be thriving members of a strong workforce.”

Along with Dr. Chip Espinoza, Vanguard’s commencement ceremony will also feature an address from an exceptional student speaker. Jared-Sam Agtunong, a first-generation college student from Hawaii graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science and a minor in religion, will represent Vanguard’s student body at the commencement ceremony while sharing how the faith-based institution prepared him for life after graduation.

Agtunong is a part of numerous programs on Vanguard’s campus, including: Pi Sigma Alpha, the International Political Science Honor Society and Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society. He has also represented Vanguard at academic conferences, in which he discussed philosophical and political questions with peers from universities across the country. Following graduation, Agtunong plans to return home to Hawaii to take part in local politics.

The undergraduate commencement ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. in the Worship Center at Mariners Church. For more information, visit


Kansas governor appears at racial-reconciliation discussion at Vanguard

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback met with Vanguard University administrators and local Christian leaders last week to discuss racial reconciliation.

The meeting, during a two-hour luncheon March 24 at the Christian university in Costa Mesa, followed Brownback’s keynote presentation at the local Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.

Read full story here.


DAILY PILOT OPINION: President Michael J. Beals

Commentary: Do your part to mentor millennials for the workforce

by Michael J. Beals

I have a new year’s challenge for Orange County employers and leaders: Make 2017 the year we stop reinforcing the caricature of millennials as an unmotivated, over-sensitive generation requiring participation trophies.

Instead, let’s mentor them so they can achieve their potential.



Dr. Mary Wickman, Director of Nursing at Vanguard University, Sworn in as President of Association of California Nurse Leaders

The Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL) held their annual conference in Anaheim, California on February 5-8, where Dr. Mary Wickman was sworn in as president. Dr. Wickman serves as director of nursing at Vanguard University, leading the program for future health care workers.

Dr. Wickman has been actively involved in ACNL since 2006, and has been a committee member of the Member Experience Committee since 2012, and served as the past board representative and chapter liaison in a two year term.

The prestigious ACNL influences health policy, advances professional practice, and provides networking and progressive leadership development programs in order to influence the future of health care.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to work with nurse leaders throughout the state of California, advancing nursing professional practice, influencing health policy, and promoting quality health care in our rapidly changing health care system,” said Dr. Wickman.

Dr. Wickman served for 21 years in the Navy Reserve Nurse Corps and is a retired Captain. She has an extensive background in nursing education, both administratively and as a faculty member, with research expertise in nursing education, adolescent risk behaviors, substance abuse treatment, and managed care.

Dr. Wickman currently serves as director of nursing and professor of nursing at Vanguard University.


Leslie Allen Named Lions Stunt Coach

Vanguard University announced this month that Leslie Allen has joined the athletics department to serve as head stunt coach, a new position on the Costa Mesa campus. Allen comes with a wealth of coaching experience, having spent the last seventeen years as head cheer coach at St. John’s Lutheran School in Orange, Orange Lutheran High School, Cypress High School, and Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas.

“Leslie sees coaching as a ministry,” said Rhett Soliday, athletic director and men’s basketball coach at Vanguard University. “She loves investing in the lives of student-athletes, which fits well with the culture and mission at Vanguard. She has built teams throughout her career, and we look forward to having her build a Christ-centered program where we can produce great leaders for the future.”

Allen returns to her roots in Orange County after spending the last two years at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU).  In her first year at OBU, she took the Tigers to compete in their first ever stunt meet. OBU won each of the games that were played and based on their scores at that the meet, was ranked 6th nationally in Division II at the end of the stunt season.

Before heading to OBU, Allen spent three years at Cypress High School. She took a non-competitive team and made a winning competitive program, qualifying for finals at USA Nationals in each of her three years.

Over the 12 years Allen spent at Orange Lutheran High School, her varsity cheer teams won three National Championships and eight UCA State Championships, as well as regional and invitational state titles. Her teams were also finalists at UCA Nationals in Florida and regularly highlighted on ESPN for the National High School Cheerleading Championship. More than 75% of her senior cheerleaders at Orange Lutheran went on to cheer at the college level, many on athletic scholarship.

“My motto for each team I coach is ‘strive for excellence in everything we do’ and I believe this is the common thread that runs through every aspect of my role as a coach,” Allen said. “I look forward to forming this new team at Vanguard, and creating an environment where dedication, confidence, character and a personal Christian walk is developed in each team member.”

Stunt removes the crowd-leading element and focuses on the technical and athletic components of cheer.  It is a cheerleading game where two squads compete at the same time against each other, performing the same routine. The matches are divided into four quarters: the first quarter is partner stunts, the second is pyramids & baskets, the third is jumps & tumbling, and the last is a conglomeration of them all. Teams compete in three routines per quarter. After performing, the judges award a point to the team with best synchronization and performance difficulty. The sport of stunt is growing fast at both the college and high school level.

The new role of stunt coach that Allen will take on allows the university to begin a stunt program and expand opportunities to female student-athletes who will compete in stunts at the college level. Allen will start on January 30, and begin recruiting immediately for the 2017-18 academic year. Vanguard’s first competition is planned for spring 2018.

For more information, please contact Coach Allen at



Vanguard University’s anti-human trafficking club, Live2Free, hosted a Fair Trade Fashion Show on the evening of Thursday, October 27, on the Costa Mesa campus. A crowd of about 150 students and community members gathered at the university’s newly opened Scott Courtyard—the runway last night for fair trade fashion awareness and clothing from local companies, including Share and Do Good, Plato’s Closet, Noonday Collection, Sak Saum, and others.

The global fashion industry is one of the biggest culprits of exploitive and slave labor use around the globe. Human trafficking, a form of modern day slavery, is growing at a rapid rate with more than 21 million people who are victims of the crime. Fair trade ensures a living wage for the people who produce the clothing, emphasizes supporting women with equal employee pay and standards like healthcare and maternity leave, and protects the environment by reducing waste, water, chemical use and GMOs.

Vanguard University’s Fair Trade Fashion Show was specifically designed to highlight local vendors with fair trade and ethical fashion at the heart of their company. Plato’s Closet, Noonday Collection, Share and Do Good, Sak Saum and other companies in Orange County showcased apparel and accessories. Products from 31 Bits and Krochet Kids were also featured—both companies started by Vanguard alums. All of these local vendors were on-site during the event as student attendees learned how to make informed purchasing decisions—vital knowledge for a consumer group who typically shops for affordable clothing on a college student’s budget.

Walking the runway were 30 male and female Vanguard student models who showcased the clothing and accessories that was either recycled, ethically sourced or artisan made. Live2Free club students had the goal of shedding some light on this important ethical issue through this, their first Fair Trade Fashion Show.

“The global fashion industry is full of exploitive labor and even slavery. As consumers we can either be part of the problem, or the solution by buying fair trade and ethically sourced and responsible products.” said Ruthi Hoffman Hanchett, coach to Vanguard’s Live2Free club and adjunct professor at Vanguard University. “The student-run fair trade fashion show is an innovative way of celebrating and drawing attention to the alternative companies that sell fair trade, ethically produced fashion, and even products that give back through supporting trafficking survivors and vulnerable groups with livelihoods.”

Live2Free is a student-run club at Vanguard University that supports and trains college youth to raise awareness among Orange County students on the issue of modern-day slavery. Live2Free exists to challenge a generation to make personal choices that recognize the dignity of the individual and the responsibility of consumers to slow the demand that drives modern day slavery. Over the past two years, Live2Free students have taught nearly 2000 Southern California students about human trafficking. Live2Free also partners with Vanguard’s renowned Global Center for Women and Justice.

For more information on the Live2Free club, or to invite Live2Free students to speak to your group about human trafficking, visit To learn more about Vanguard University, visit



Good news for the Vanguard Lions! recently completed research into 2,868 accredited colleges and universities, and Vanguard ranks No. 9 Assemblies of God College out of 16 universities in the country. The ranking is published online here, and more information about their selection process can also be found online here.

According to their website, is a leading resource for people who want reliable information about online colleges and degree programs. Their website helps users find the right online college and program based on subject, location and degree level. Students can read descriptions of the top online colleges in each state as well as in each field of study.



 Forbes recently announced the top colleges in its prestigious rankings, and California colleges dominate the list. Besides Stanford, 10 additional California schools made the top 100 in Forbes’ 2016 college rankings, a total of 55 California institutions fell within the entire list of 660 nationwide. Vanguard University was named one out of only 55 colleges ranked in the state of California, ranking #591 on the list of Forbes top colleges for 2016.

Forbes also ranked Vanguard University as #375 in the private colleges category, #214 in liberal arts universities, and #104 overall in the West.

This year’s rankings placed a special emphasis on return on investment, and include private and public colleges and universities, according to Forbes.

Vanguard University’s student population is growing, last year reported at 2,255 with a faculty to student ratio of a desirable 15:1. An outstanding 99% of students at Vanguard University receive financial aid.

For more information on the Vanguard University’s academic programs, visit

Sean Isaac-1


The 2016 Major League Baseball Draft began June 9 in Secaucus, New Jersey and ran through June 11. A total of seven locals were taken in the draft, including Vanguard University standouts, Sean Isaac and Jose Rojas.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim selected Isaac and Rojas in the 35th and 36th rounds. Both players were also named NAIA All-Americans earlier last week after being named Golden State Athletic Conference Pitcher and Player of the Year, respectively, in May.

Isaac, of Redondo Beach, attended Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, California, where Cass Olson coached him. He later attended El Camino College and was coached by Casey Crook. Isaac has been playing baseball for over 15 years, and has been named South Coast Conference Honorable Mention Pitcher, won SCC Championship, and was Team MVP in 2011. Isaac was also an athlete of the year nominee in 2011.

Rojas, of Anaheim, attended Anaheim High School where Dave Torres coached him. He graduated and attended Fullerton Community College, where Nick Fuscardo coached him. A short stop, Rojas has been playing baseball for 17 years.

“Both Sean and Jose are first class people and athletes,” said Rob Pegg, head coach for baseball at Vanguard University. “They have led the team by example for the last two years with their work ethic and commitment to the team and to Vanguard. They are strong examples of the Gold Pride mantra we want our athletes to aspire to.”

Pegg just finished his fourth season as head coach at Vanguard, with a record of 135-88-1 and earned his first career 40 win season in 2016.

The two Vanguard University baseball players are the only players in the school’s history to have ever been selected in the draft by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Three Vanguard players have reached the major league highlighted by Tim Fortuno, who suited up for the California Angels, Cincinnati Reds, and Chicago White Sox. Pegg, along with 49 past players, have played minor league baseball—most recently Scott Torrey and Clayton Voechting for the Santa Fe Fuego.

The Intercollegiate Athletic Program at Vanguard University is known for its holistic development of all student athletes, encouraging a high standard of academic and athletic excellence that embraces character building. Vanguard University was a charter member of the Golden State Athletic Conference beginning in 1986, and is affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which has more than 300 fully accredited, four-year colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The Angels are currently 5th in the American League West, and have notoriously drawn millions of fans each season.

For more information on the Vanguard University’s athletics program, visit


Theatre Arts Alumna Bretlyn Schmitt `15 Named Woman of the Year

by Tom Titus

There exists, right here in our own backyard, a wealth of theatrical talent. This newspaper has celebrated it for the past four decades, honoring, at the close of each year, two individuals who have excelled in their specialties, beginning with David Emmes and Doris Allen in 1974.

On this, the 42nd such occasion, the spotlight falls on a writer/actor who’s also a magician and a recent college graduate who has created some exceptional choreography during her time at a local university.

They are two people who charmed audiences at the Huntington Beach Playhouse and Vanguard University, respectively, during the past year — Scott Ratner and Bretlyn Schmitt, the Daily Pilot’s man and woman of the year in theater for 2015.

Read full article.