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“Nomads” Visit to Share Message of Hope for North Korea

Event_POSTERS-5[3]On Nov. 19 at 7 p.m., “Nomads” from the organization Liberty in North Korea will speak about their work rescuing and resettling refugees from North Korea.

Held in Vanguard University’s Needham Chapel, the chapel-accredited, dinner event will offer an opportunity for students to learn about Liberty in North Korea’s mission and how they can get involved. The chapel will feature some of the organization’s interns, “Nomads”, sharing stories and showing videos of North Korean college students who have been successfully resettled. The “Nomads” will also share about ways that students can take part in the mission.

Helping North Korean refugees reach freedom and thrive in their resettlement is Liberty in North Korea’s mission. Their “Nomads” visit schools and chapels throughout America and Canada to spread awareness about the issue and the opportunity people have to play a part in combatting it.

Having previously worked for Liberty in North Korea, Susie DiLauria, one of Vanguard’s marketing and communications specialists, provided the connection for Liberty in North Korea to have an event at Vanguard. DiLauria spent a semester working as one of the organization’s “Nomads” and then went on to work as a full-time staff member for a year and a half. Hosting the event, with the help of Vanguard’s Asian Pacific Islander Club and VU Rise Club, DiLauria said that the issue of rescuing, resettling and empowering people of North Korea is something she is very passionate about.

When discussing the importance of the organization and its crucial work in North Korea, DiLauria said: “I think North Korea is an issue that is widely misunderstood.” Most of the conversations do not adequately address the reality of the oppression that the people of North Korea are experiencing, she said. The members of Liberty in North Korea do a great job of unmasking the reality of the issue and the part Americans can play in bringing freedom and empowerment to North Korean refugees, she said.

Looking forward to the event, DiLauria said she is excited to see it “put a face to North Korea, the face of a college student, a face that is relatable.” Whether it inspires students to join in the efforts of Liberty in North Korea or in another world-bettering organization, DiLauria said she hopes that it “helps VU students broaden their worldview.”

To learn more about Liberty in North Korea, click here.


Christena Cleveland Shared Stirring Message on Unity and Diversity at Late Night

ChristenaClevelandA voice for unity and reconciliation, special speaker Christena Cleveland spoke at Vanguard University in a Thursday morning chapel and at the second Late Night event of the year on Nov. 6.

Speaking on the many underlying issues that lead to disunity, Cleveland mentioned three specifically: low self-esteem, the “us vs. them” mentality, and the general belief of people that their “other” does not want to know or be around them. She used experience and research to dissect each issue. She shared how these issues encourage people to separate further rather than come together.

Touching on low self-esteem and its hand in causing disunity, Cleveland described the classic bully mentality: put them down to put me up. She described a research study that found that when people with low self-esteem degrade another person, it boosts their personal self-esteem. So, when people experience low self-esteem, they are more likely to act prejudicial and unkind to someone different than them.

When addressing how to combat these issues of inequality, Cleveland said: “Make their story matter to you.” She described a relationship she shares with one of her neighbors who comes from a very different life situation than her and how she learns so much during her times with that neighbor. She said that it is crucial that we learn from those who are different than us to gain a more full, diverse perspective on life. We have to love our neighbor as Jesus did, she said.

To learn more about Christena Cleveland, read her bio by clicking here.


Vanguard University Veterans Honored and Celebrated at Veterans Day Event

rsz_img_9909On Nov. 6, Vanguard University hosted the annual Veterans Day Event to honor veterans and celebrate the Vanguard Veterans Center.

Held in the Veterans Courtyard of Honor, the event hosted more than 100 attendees, which included veterans from Vanguard and the community, students, alumni, faculty, staff and other community members. After the presentation of the colors by the Total Force Blue Eagles Honor Guard, the national anthem and the invocation, Master of Ceremonies Ed Arnold, a Marine veteran, opened the ceremony. Following Arnold’s opening remarks, Vanguard University President Michael J. Beals, PhD, welcomed attendees.

For the first speech, former veterans resource coordinator Brent Theobald ’11 shared some of his story as a member of the US Marine Corps. Theobald also presented a community volunteer award to Allen Klorsz_img_0125sowski for his generosity in donating time, finances and support to Vanguard’s Veterans Center.

After Theobald, the veterans resource coordinator, Brian Burlingame, spoke about the history of Veterans Day, his gratitude for the service of all those present and the future of Vanguard’s Veterans Center. “We are here to honor our brave men and women who have proudly served this great nation, for they are the fabric from which our flag has been woven,” Burlingame said in his speech.

Reflecting on Vanguard’s event and Veterans Day in general, Burlingame said: “There should never be a time when we don’t honor veterans, including their families.” As a retired veteran with 30 years of service in the Marine Corps, Burlingame knows the life of a veteran. As the new veterans resource coordinator, Burlingame said: “I think there’s significant opportunity to continue the hard work of those who came before me.”

rsz_img_0005Looking to the future, Burlingame said he, along with the rest of the members of the Veterans Center, have many goals for the future of Vanguard’s wants to continue deepening their connection with the community. In his speech, he said: “When I think of success for our student Veterans, I want them to have the same pride and camaraderie here at Vanguard that was displayed by them in their years of service.”

To learn more about Vanguard’s Veterans Center, click here.


Ancient Myths Danced Across Vanguard University’s Lyceum Stage in Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses_FINALFor the final two weekends in October and the first weekend in November, Vanguard University’s Lyceum Theatre morphed into an ancient mythical world of enchantment and tragedy as “Metamorphoses” took the stage.

Combining multiple Greek myths, “Metamorphoses” surveys an array of love stories and tragedies from ancient mythology. The play opens and closes with the story of King Midas, his golden touch and the consequences of his greed. The many stories in between tackle challenging myths of true love lost, the consequences of disobedience and the recklessness of the gods.

Transforming the Lyceum stage physically and metaphorically, “Metamorphoses” used a unique and artistic set design as the setting for each story.  Physically, the theater production team created a set unlike any the Lyceum stage had seen before. They built rock walls, inserted aerial silk and, for the first time in Vanguard history, constructed a pool into the stage.

On Halloween, “Metamorphoses” hosted a free performance for students to attend. One attendee, junior music major Robbie McIntire, said the play surpassed any expectations he had. He praised the actors’ abilities to represent so many different Greek gods and characters. “There was elegance. There was beauty, but there was also ugliness and rigidness,” McIntire said as he described the actors’ portrayals of good and evil. McIntire ended his remarks saying: “Our theater department kicks butt.”

To learn more about Vanguard’s theater department and upcoming productions, click here.


Balport Haunted the Halls at the Annual Harvest Party

HarvestPart14-1This year’s annual Harvest Party came with a spooky, new addition: Balport’s Haunted House.

On October 30, Vanguard University’s Student Government Association (SGA) hosted the annual Harvest Party on the lawn between Newport Hall and the gym. With a carnival theme, the party featured games, food, a bounce house and for the first time, a haunted house.

Starting at 9:30 p.m., after the men’s basketball team won their first non-conference home game, the Harvest Party invited students to jump into multiple activities. Through the night, music played by the popcorn and cotton candy snack shack while students mingled, played games and took pictures. Carnival booths lined the outside wall of the gym featuring various games, including a basketball-shooting contest and a Ping-Pong ball toss to win a fish and the chance at a gift card. Along with the games and food, the night ended with students gathered around the outside of Balboa Hall to watch a huge pumpkin drop.

Throughout the evening, most party attendees, at one point or another, took a break from the games and joined the long line of students awaiting their chance to take the elevator up and into Balport’s Haunted House. In conjunction with the carnival theme, the haunted house took visitors through scenes of a scary story where masked figures jumped and crawled. From the first elevator ride with the tall lurking attendant to the room of mirrors with frightening faces, the house kept everyone on their toes.

Directed by the Balport resident assistants (RAs), the haunted house filled most of Newport Hall’s lounge areas. RAs and student volunteers made up the team of haunted house characters. Their efforts made for a night of laughter and screams as friends journeyed through haunted halls.

To learn more about SGA and Residence Life, visit the Student Life page by clicking here.


Vanguard University Professor’s Original Play Reaches New York Stages

LWPKarahGravattPremiering on the East Coast, Vanguard University professor Warren Doody’s play, “Life Without Parole”, performed at the New York International Fringe Festival for three weeks in August.

With multiple festival showings, “Life Without Parole” received positive reviews from various publications. One publication, “The Baffler”, an online art and criticism magazine headquartered in Massachusetts, featured an article summarizing the play’s plot and its role in discussing the issue of domestic violence. In her review, Elaine Yu wrote, “The criminal justice system has never been fully prepared to handle cases of domestic abuse, nor is it a pioneer of interventions any more transformative than prison time, which is precisely what Life Without Parole demonstrates.” In another review, Roark Littlefield, writing for “Stage Buddy,” a New York based theater magazine, wrote that “Life Without Parole” is “as powerful as any new play I have seen in years.”

Written in 2003, “Life Without Parole” is Doody’s adaptation of Dr. Elizabeth Dermody Leonard’s research on women incarcerated for killing their abusive partner. Dr. Leonard, a professor of anthropology and sociology at Vanguard before retiring in 2011, died earlier this year. The Fringe Festival’s “Life Without Parole” performances were dedicated to her memory and work .LWPGroup1

Through her research, Dr. Leonard compiled an analysis filled with testimonies from incarcerated women she interviewed at the California Institution for Women at Chino. Her book, “Convicted Survivors: The Imprisonment of Battered Women Who Kill”, provided the inspiration, content and many of the monologues in “Life Without Parole.”

In 2001, following the last faculty meeting of the academic year, Dr. Leonard approached Professor Doody to see if he would be interested in making her book into a play. “I almost fell out of my chair,” Professor Doody said. He was thrilled by the offer and excited to invest his time in something so meaningful. Dr. Leonard assured Doody that she would not interfere with his creative process. “She was true to her word; by far the best collaborator I’ve ever had,” he added.

Since its first staged reading in 2003 at Northern Arizona University, the play has appeared on many stages and in many settings.  In 2008, Vanguard’s department of theatre arts chair, Susan K. Berkompas, directed performances at Vanguard’s Lyceum Theater and the California Institution for Women at Chino.  Under her direction, the play was selected in 2009 as a finalist for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

LWPHelen1In January 2014, it made the coast-to-coast jump from California to New York and appeared at the Winterfest play festival at Manhattan Repertory Theatre. Facilitated by Vanguard theater alumna Karah Gravatt ’11, the East Coast premiere sold out every show. Gravatt, who played one of the “convicted survivors” in the Vanguard production, contacted Doody a couple of years ago about pitching “Life Without Parole” to theater groups, directors and producers. With his blessing, she submitted the play first to the Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s festival, then to the New York International Fringe Festival. Gravatt, who performed in both runs, also served as the co-producer for the Fringe Festival production.

Reflecting on the play’s journey, Professor Doody said that when Dr. Leonard had first presented him with the adaptation project, he never would have imagined that 13 years later, he would be discussing its success in an interview. “It was a cause I was ready to fight for, take up and run with,” he said. “Domestic violence is an issue that is often swept under the rug because its victims end up feeling ashamed, which is so backwards.” Excited about the play’s growing reach and looking to its future, Professor Doody said, “I think it’s got another level to get to, and I believe it will get there.”

To learn more about “Life Without Parole”, visit the play’s website by clicking here.


Audiences Buckle Up for a Rock ‘n’ Roll Road Trip at Vanguard University’s Lyceum Theater

rsz_the-beat-goes-on_finalPlaying from September 19 to October 5, The Beat Goes On journeyed through the decades of rock ‘n’ roll on Vanguard University’s Lyceum stage.

Vanguard’s box office phone lines buzzed with calls of praise for The Beat Goes On, box office attendant and student Serene Shahoud said. Written and directed by Vanguard’s Vanda Eggington, The Beat Goes On features chart-topping tunes from the 50s to the 90s. Travelling across time on a musical journey, the play highlights the changes and growth of rock ‘n’ roll through the decades while summarizing major historical events from each decade

From 50s malt shops to 90s coffee houses, The Beat Goes On explores some of the most memorable music from each decade while giving a snapshot of life at that time. The play is also an educational experience that previews the changes in rock ‘n’ roll along with the major events of each decade. Events like landing on the moon and the John F. Kennedy assassination are featured.

Expressing her enjoyment of the show, junior Glory Stewart said “young or old, there’s something in it for everyone.” It features songs and artists that every generation represented in the audience recognized and loved. The play showed that even in a generation as separated as the 90s, with headphones in and faces glued to computer screens, “people are connecting through music, and that’s why I’m a music major,” she said.

On the production side, Stewart praised the cast and crew for their ability to put together a show with so many musical numbers in such a short amount of time. The casting of students who could sing and dance to such a wide range of music was very impressive, she said. She also commended director Eggington’s cleverness in inserting icons and quips from each decade that various generations in the audience understood. Multiple times the older generations would laugh at a small comment from the narrator that the younger generations did not catch, or visa versa.

Overall, The Beat Goes On was a witty, high-energy play that captured the audiences’ hearts and imaginations through rock ‘n’ roll.

Starting on October 24, Vanguard’s Lyceum Theater will perform Mary Zimmerman’s contemporary drama Metamorphoses. To find out more about this upcoming show and to purchase tickets, click here.

Rhonda Sciortino

Domestic Violence Survivor Advocate Shares Personal Story of Overcoming at Global Center for Women and Justice Event

IG RhondaOn October 6 at 10 a.m., Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice (GCWJ) hosted guest speaker Rhonda Sciortino for the first of many events for domestic violence awareness month.

Held in Heath 109, Sciortino’s lecture, Too Broken to Be Fixed?, focused on her story as a survivor of domestic violence and how she made it to where she is today. In her lecture, Sciortino empowered students by showing them that no matter what their past involved, they can be successful. In addition, she encouraged students to be part of the effort against this prevalent issue. “I want every single one of you today to leave this room as a spokesperson for the abused,” she said.

Throughout the lecture, Sciortino shared her story. She detailed the habitual pain and hostility she experienced growing up with her grandparents abusing her mentally and physically. When she was little, Sciortino’s mother lied to a neighbor saying she needed a babysitter for a few hours. After dropping Sciortino off with the sitter, she never came back. After losing her mother, Sciortino’s living situation became even worse. She was sent to live with her grandparents where she faced extreme poverty, homelessness, neglect and worst of all, abuse. “I was nobody,” she said as she described the loss of identity that came with losing her mother and living with her abusive grandparents.

In all of her struggles and loss, Sciortino attributes her success to what she says is the one true cure for domestic violence, Jesus. “I love that at Vanguard I can be straight out with the cure,” she said. After describing her path to Christ, Sciortino shared multiple examples of what she learned from the many difficulties in her past. For example, she said that poverty, aloneness and abandonment taught her gratitude, independence and self-reliance.

At the lecture, nearly all the seats filled by the lecture’s start and students continued to trickle in finding space to sit on the steps or stand at the back. One student, junior Mellica Harris said after the lecture: “It was very encouraging to see how someone could come from that rough of a background and be so successful… It was very inspiring.”

Continuing in their mission to bring awareness and an end to domestic violence, the GCWJ will be hosting other events during October for domestic violence awareness month. To find out about these upcoming events, click here.


Students Slide on Ice in Annual Broomball Games

Broomball2014Sneakers slid on ice September 23 as juniors and seniors competed in the annual broomball games at the Westminster Ice Rink.

Vanguard University’s recreations team hosted the annual broomball games. At Tuesday’s games, juniors and seniors faced off, and on September 25, the freshmen and sophomores slapped sticks at the rink.

Hot chocolate, helmets and hockey sticks greeted students as they entered the arena on Tuesday. For the event, juniors and seniors sported their class colors. Juniors wore blue and seniors wore red.

At the junior/senior night, many students came bundled up and ready to skate. Because of the great turnout the referees added a second ball to the games to give everyone on the ice a chance at the action. The night ended with group pictures and some brief socializing as Tuesday night became Wednesday morning.

Find out about upcoming VU Rec events by clicking here!



Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice Brings Awareness to Human Trafficking through Documentary Screening and Sponsorship Luncheon

rsz_vu_diamond_event-14-0384In the second week of September, Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice (GCWJ) hosted two events inspired by the same heart and created for the same purpose: to bring awareness that will lead to justice for women and children affected by human trafficking.

On September 11, the GCWJ hosted a free documentary screening of Jody Hassett Sanchez’s SOLD: Fighting the Global Slave Trade followed by a Q&A session with director/producer Sanchez. On September 13, the GCWJ hosted the annual More Priceless Than Diamonds gala luncheon to raise support for the center’s continued work in fighting human trafficking.

Playing at the Lido Theater in Newport Beach, SOLD tells the stories of three individuals, a Christian, a Hindu and a Muslim, who have committed their lives to battling human trafficking. They survive death threats, plot daring rescue raids and challenge powerful interests in their battle to end slavery in the 21st century.SOLD1

One student, a women’s studies minor and sociology major, Araceli Bravo, found the documentary to be very different than any she had seen before on the topic. It didn’t just give statistics and data, “it gave you stories,” she said. She also noted that most human-trafficking documentaries she had seen were either Christian or secular, whereas SOLD dealt with three different religions.

Talking about the documentary’s featured individuals, Bravo said:  “All they want is to rescue those girls.” She said she enjoyed seeing a documentary that highlighted the unity of cause among different religions. “Even though we’re so different in our worldviews, we can come together in one cause: stopping human trafficking,” Bravo said.

Two days after the screening, the GCWJ hosted the More Priceless Than Diamonds luncheon in the Balboa Bay Club’s Grand Ballroom. The annual luncheon provides support for the center to continue in its mission to create a just world where women and children are safe, respected and valued. This year’s luncheon featured SOLD producer Sanchez as the keynote speaker, KOCE’s Ed Arnold as the emcee, and Maria Hall Brown of PBS SoCal along with survivor advocate and author Shyima Hall for an exclusive live interview.

VU Diamond event-14-0404 editWhen describing the event, president of the Live2Free club Brittany Miller said the community’s involvement through funding and support inspired her. For the event, Miller spoke to attendants about Live2Free’s high school student training and its work in raising awareness among the students. Reflecting on the luncheon, Miller said: “It continued to stoke my own personal passion for this issue.”

To learn more about the GCWJ and their upcoming events, click here.