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Responsibility to Lead

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“I would have never been at Vanguard University without the financial support of a scholarship. And that is for sure!“

These words come from a man after God’s own heart. As a former member of the Vanguard Lions Men’s Basketball Team, Taylor Kelly’s life changed for the better during his time at Vanguard. Working tirelessly day after day only to perfect his game, Taylor never expected his Vanguard experience to be more than playing basketball in “The Pit,” our school’s gym.

Taylor Kelly is from Bakersfield, CA and graduated with a degree in Kinesiology in 2013.

Before coming to VU, Taylor attended Fresno State on a Basketball scholarship. However, Taylor felt he was not becoming the person he wanted to be. He immersed all of his self-worth into the game of Basketball.

“I was just a basketball player who would do whatever it took to be the best I could and take it as far as I could. I found all my worth and identity in being a successful player. I realized that basketball was becoming my idol. But, as we know, basketball is a terrible god.”

When Taylor transferred to VU, he was unaware of how God was working in his life. Taylor knew that Vanguard was a Christian university, but he did not know how much it would affect his faith. Taylor started to be mentored by his Basketball coaches and found the community he so desperately desired.

2015 BballCamp.pose2015-BballCamp.pose560“I had the most incredible mentors from my Basketball coaches, Rhett Soliday and Brian “Boomer” Roberts. They exemplified what it is to be a good husband and a man of God. They showed me that, what a growing relationship with God, that is powered by the Holy Spirit looked like. Seeing and understanding that changed the entire dynamic of my life.”

Taylor learned that his life was not about himself but about serving everyone else around him. Taylor devoted his life to Christ and used his strong work ethic to better the team, not just himself. During one Shine Chapel, Taylor received a special call toward servant leadership:

“I was prophetically spoken over during one of the Shine services. I am here to lead for the Kingdom of God and help distinguish this University as a group that is led by the Holy Spirit and seeks to serve. I tried my very best to create a culture of service, integrity all while honoring the LORD.”

That became my mantra every time I wore the Lions Blue & Gold jersey. It was honor to represent VU on and off the court. And I realized that the Champions of Character training we taught kids at our summer youth camps and basketball clinics were values that I needed to embody every day.

“The opportunity to play Basketball and the financial scholarship brought me here. But without that, I would have never been able to figure out who I am in Christ, and in that, the purpose for my life. I don’t know what God will do with my life, but I know He has me here giving back to the VU community. I know I have a responsibility to lead these athletes to a greater purpose.”

The ability to wear the Lions’ blue and gold jersey enabled Taylor to find something far more precious than gold itself: Jesus Christ.

Taylor’s gratitude shows in how he gives back to the Vanguard community: In 2013, Taylor was hired to be an assistant coach on the Men’s Basketball team! He is excited to pour into the next generation of athletes.

2015-BballCamp.Flex560Because of the scholarship that Taylor received, God was able to work in his heart as well as the hearts of those Taylor loves and serves. Being a Vanguard Basketball coach has given Taylor a platform to share his testimony with other athletes. He considers it a blessing to ‘pay it forward’ in mentoring athletes, discipling them, and encouraging his team to be men of character. The role that Taylor plays in others’ lives is already so inspirational.

“I love helping our team process whatever life situation is going on and share so much trust and vulnerability. It is incredible to see what God does with those conversations. I am stoked that to witness a handful of guys come to know Jesus here and take their faith seriously.”

[Written by Nick Dalafu, University Advancement Content Writer]

Gifts to the Alumni and Friends Scholarship support deserving students like Brittany.
Thank you for helping them reach their God-given potential and make their stories matter!

Click here to read more stories like Taylor’s on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.

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Cared For, Nourished, and Transformed

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Stories of transformation and success are usually stories meant for Hollywood, but these two words perfectly describe the journey of a new college graduate named Brittany Acker. In four years, she has become unrecognizable in the very best of ways. Her life went from despair to beautiful, vibrant, and full of joy. Brittany is nothing less than a miracle.

 

Brittany Acker, a Religion: Biblical studies major from Lake Forest, California,
graduated from Vanguard University in May 2016.

Brittany’s story of success begins with a financial miracle. Before coming to Vanguard University, Brittany struggled with who she was. Brittany’s sense of hopelessness hindered her from thinking into the future because of how disappointing it seemed. Much of this was attributed to the brokenness of the home she grew up in. Because of the 2008 U.S. market crash, Brittany’s family experienced a serious loss of income, which forced her parents to work longer hours at jobs far away from home. This resulted in Brittany’s parents never being home, and the relationships in her family suffered for it. Brittany’s life was full of pain, but she never made a big deal out of it because she thought it was normal. Going to a private university was not a realistic option for her family. However, thanks to the generous donations made by the Vanguard community, Brittany was able to experience a miracle unfold before her very eyes.

 

“The thought of me going to a private university seemed impossible to my family. We were in a season of major financial need. My mom was riding her bike from Lake Forest to Tustin (which is multiple cities away) for work and leaving work at midnight. My dad was riding his bike to Irvine for work. My sister and I did not get to see them much. Even food was difficult to come by as I remember looking at an empty pantry and fridge, my mom apologizing. When we did have food, our meals were provided through local food shelters, dumpster dives, and of course family and friends. Going to a university did indeed seem impossible. But when I got the call and my advisor congratulated me and told me of the amount of financial aid I would receive, everything changed.”

 

Brittany.Grad2.560At Vanguard, Brittany began to discover her brokenness. The hurt that she never dealt with at home began to be exposed as she stepped into a healthy environment. “My life felt like a bunch of volcanoes about to explode. Coming to VU was like having a spiritual detox.” The first few semesters of college were extremely hard for her, as there was a death in the family and she began to question if God was real. Brittany also had to deal with unhealthy relationships at home, and this began to affect the other relationships she had made. Brittany also developed an eating disorder, and later found herself in extreme physical pain when her body became severely intolerant to some foods. She was in desperate need of help.

 

Thankfully, because she was able to attend VU, Brittany found the help and the answers she desired in many forms. As she was struggling with her questions about God, the Lord met her right where she was and helped her in her time of need.

 

“I was questioning God’s existence and whether or not Jesus was just a prophet or a good teacher. After that, I went to a Foundations of Christianity class with professor Dr. Gary Tyra who shared that today’s topic would be: ‘Was Jesus just a prophet or a moral teacher?’ I sat back and chuckled at God’s immediate help.”

 

While she was seeking help, Brittany found affirmation through Vanguard’s Story Shapers mentorship program. “People like President Mike Beals offered support and believed in me when I was a complete mess. My Religion professors provided so many ‘Jesus in the flesh’ hugs during the many hard times when I was dealing with the mess too.” Another big help that she received was when she was able to confide with the counselors at the Counseling Center, a service offered to VU students free of charge. Through the help of financial provisions, Brittany was able to utilize the special tools at Vanguard to make a life-changing transformation.

 

Brittany.Hat2Brittany has been extremely blessed with the help she has received and is now using the skills she developed while at VU to transform herself and the world around her. To use a Business term, Brittany’s ROI has been astronomical. Through a miracle, Brittany has been transformed, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, she is helping to work miracles in other people.

“Because of the support I received at Vanguard University, I can honestly say I am a different person. Now, my depression is a distant memory, and I am living a healthy lifestyle. I am full of joy, life, and hope! I long to share that joy and hope with everyone around me. I plan to go start my career with personal health as my goal. I believe that everyone has a unique unspoken brilliance, and when we receive the help that we need to get to achieve our own personal health, we are able to articulate that.  From there, we go on to help people in whatever capacity we were distinctly designed to help people in.”

The help Brittany received has caused a ripple effect that has begun to positively affect others around her. Brittany’s life is a testimony of miracles that were made possible through the precious love of the Father and the generosity of many Vanguard donors.

 

“I am honestly a different person because of my experience at Vanguard University.  My relationships with family can especially attest to this, and I could not be more grateful. Who I am today is a result of individuals who helped me in big and even small ways. I was cared for, nourished, and transformed through the support of the people that make up Vanguard community. I hope to lead a life of generosity because I have experienced first-hand that even the smallest notions of profound effects. Thank you!”

 

[Written by Nick Dalafu, University Advancement Content Writer]

 

Gifts to the Alumni and Friends Scholarship support deserving students like Brittany.
Thank you for helping them reach their God-given potential and make their stories matter!

Click here to read more stories like Brittany’s on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.

 

 

 

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A Heart for Helping Others

 Mellica.pose560And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

From her humble beginnings— to her upcoming graduation — Mellica Harris, a Vanguard University Business Administration major, opens up about God’s faithfulness and her gratitude for the many people who have helped her along the way.

“Love the Lord and be yourself. That’s the most important thing I’ve learned at VU. I’ve also received a world-class education! Although I didn’t worry about academics, it was my self-worth and identity that I really struggled with. I wasn’t sure who I was or if I was enough. I want to thank the many professors, mentors, and of course the scholarship donors who have made this journey possible. Without the help of so many people, I wouldn’t be graduating in May.”

Growing up, Mellica and her older sister were raised by a single mom whom Mellica describes as a “force to be reckoned with.” Their life wasn’t always easy, but Mellica credits her mom’s determination and God’s goodness in bringing them through.

“When I was 4, my father was arrested and deported back to Jamaica for physically abusing my mom and other illegal activities. My mom was left all alone to raise two young girls. She’s a strong woman though! When I was eight years old, we moved from Los Angeles to Palm Desert to attend better schools and have a better life. In 2009, our apartment burned down and we struggled to find a new home. In the mean time, we slept on relative’s couches and at one point all three of us lived in one room… But mom never gave up, and God saw us through.”

Mellica.RA560In high school, a few of the Young Adult women at Mellica’s Church, who were also Vanguard University Alumni, brought a group of students to Pre-VU, an annual VU Admissions event for high school and college transfer students. After that experience, Mellica says it was the persistence of admissions counselor Jason Fletcher and God’s provision through scholarships from her local YMCA and Vanguard donors that made her college dreams a reality.

At Vanguard, Mellica flourished. As her studies progressed, Mellica began to take on various leadership roles and responsibilities, such as a Resident Advisor in Catalina Hall, club leadership, and employment as a student worker in the Counseling Center and Disability Services. Mellica credits professors Ed Westbrook and Justin Moser and many staff members, including Kerry Kimble, Elizabeth Banks, Doug Hutchinson, Michele Robison, and Dannae Rushing, for seeing her potential and helping realize her abilities.

“It seems as if everyone here loves what they do and sees their work as more than a job. They go above and beyond to have relationships with students and to model what Godly living and loving really are. The alumni are wonderful to. I’m so grateful for the mentoring network, especially Jennifer Summers who has given me a lot of wonderful career advice and insight. The opportunity to be a part of this amazing community is something I will never take for granted. ”

Mellica.Intern560After graduation, Mellica plans to work in the VU Disability Services office as a full-time employee. Ultimately, her goal is to work as a Human Resource Manager in the area of training and development.

“My life’s verse is Philippians 1:6. I want to help others rest in God’s faithfulness. I want to help them realize that no matter what they’ve gone through in life, God has brought them this far and he’s not going to leave them— now or ever. By helping people reach their career goals, I hope to encourage them that with God’s help they can do anything He calls them to.”
Gifts to the Alumni and Friends Scholarship support deserving students like Mellica.
Thank you for helping them reach their God-given potential and make their stories matter!

Click here to read more stories like Mellica on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.

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A Dream Come True

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Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)

 

When you first meet Isaac Brandt Samuelson, a Freshman Communication major at Vanguard University, his passion for Vanguard and his gratitude for those who have helped him along the way radiates as he tells his story.

 

“I’m just a poor missionary kid. I wouldn’t be here—-pursuing God’s calling in my life—- if it weren’t for the generosity of so many wonderful Vanguard donors. I’m grateful for every day and want them to know I’m working hard to make the best of every opportunity.”

 

Growing up, Isaac bounced from Iowa to Costa Rica to Minnesota and finally to China, where he completed high school. Despite the changes and challenges, Isaac says God’s hand in his life has always been evident.

 

“As a young kid through several moves and many difficult family situations, God has been with me all the way. So when I met Vanguard University Alumni André (’11)  and Joanna (’07) Abrantes in China, I wasn’t surprised to feel that He was leading me to Vanguard too. When I visited the campus, it was so apparent this was ordained all along.”

 

Isaac.family560Self-taught in a variety of musical instruments and with a passion in audio engineering, Isaac finds Vanguard the perfect atmosphere to pursue his dreams and goals. In fact, Isaac sees Vanguard as a place with so many open doors he’s jumped in and is participating in as much as he possibly can. From performing as a vocalist in the Jazz combo, to working as a soundboard technician, and freelancing as a sound engineer, Isaac considers all of these opportunities “a dream come true.”

 

After VU, Isaac hopes to continue his education in film. He knows his success will be in part due to the mentoring of so many Vanguard professors and faculty members. Although Isaac’s only been here a short time, he feels he’s already been given so much.

 

“My professors are more than teachers…they are my family members and friends. I have been particularly impacted by Naomi Kasa (Assistant Communications Professor), David Paltza (Coordinator of Concert Operations), and Kenneth Foerch (Associate Professor of Music, Director of Jazz Studies). Through their example I’ve learned that it’s okay to fail, but at the same time they’re pushing me to be better in every way possible. Someday, I want to do the same for others. Whether it’s through making films or whatever else God has for me, I hope to share my life’s verse Psalm 34:8. God is good! He is faithful! He was faithful to me through the difficult parts of growing up, he’s been faithful to lead me here to Vanguard, and He continues to be faithful by providing generous scholarship donors. Through my story, I hope others will see His faithfulness in their lives as well. ”

 

Gifts to the Alumni and Friends Scholarship support deserving students like Isaac.
Thank you for helping them reach their God-given potential and make their stories matter!

Click here to read more stories like Isaac on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.

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I Am Home!

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Librado Hernandez
Vanguard University: Class of 2016
Business Administration Management major

I grew up not having much or thinking highly of myself. My dad was in a gang and my mom was an immigrant who worked hard cleaning houses. It was often up to me to care for my younger brother and sister. As their role model, I wanted to show them how to succeed so I set big goals for myself – like being the first person in my family to attend college.

At one point, my dad went to prison and that’s where he met Christ. It changed our entire family! Unfortunately, after his release, he fell back into his old habits. It was then that I began to question everything, and at one point I was even suicidal. Praise God that, in my despair, He revealed to me just how real He is and how much He loves me. And now, my entire family believes in Christ.

When it came time to choose a college, I was a bit lost. Since I was the first in my family to attend a university, I applied to a lot of big and prestigious schools. But, when an admissions counselor from Vanguard University visited my high school, I was intrigued. He was the only one that talked to me like a real person and he seemed genuinely interested in me. I took him up on his offer to visit the campus in Costa Mesa and I immediately knew, “I am home!”

I’m so thankful for every day that I’m here at Vanguard. My education opened the doors for me to pursue my dreams. I won’t forget the donors who opened these doors for me, and I hope someday I can do the same for others so they can achieve their dreams.

The donors who have provided me with a scholarship have made an investment that impacts much more than just my life. They have also shown my little brother and sister that it’s possible to dream big and afford college. I hope my example will inspire others as well.

At VU, my professors and spiritual mentors have shown me that life is not a bunch of random experiences. They’ve also helped me realize that God will use my whole story, every circumstance and hardship, for His good.

Through my Business classes, I’ve been able to obtain a great internship, and my goal is to start my own company, writing and animating stories. While my dreams are big, I still rely on 2 Corinthians 12:9-12 to push me ahead. I’ve always felt like I had to rely solely on my strength, and that was so overwhelming. What a relief it is to know that in my weakness, God is strong. I now let my weaknesses empower me and motivate me to see what Christ can accomplish through me.

With God’s help, I hope to make a great impact on the lives of those who may be struggling with poverty or helplessness. No matter where you come from or who you are, you can always find hope in Christ. I pray the Lord will use the talents he has given me to share that message with those who need it most.

 

Gifts to the Alumni & Friends Scholarship provide scholarships for deserving students like Librado.
Thank you for helping Librado, and students like him, attain their God-given potential and make their story matter!

Click here to read more stories like Librado on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.

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He Restores My Soul

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After studying at a Bible College in her homeland of Finland, Business major Alina Juntunen made the decision to transfer to Vanguard University. “I knew of Vanguard in high school because they came to events I attended with my youth group. Then, a few close friends of mine started attending there, and I visited them often. I began to feel connected and accepted, and it felt like home.

 

“I’ve enjoyed becoming part of this community. It’s truly a family, and feeling connected has been such a great experience for me. I love my classes and professors! The professors have made me excited about studying Business.

 

Alina.beach560“I’m learning so much, and I’m surrounded by amazing people who share my faith. To me, Vanguard means community. It means people that love me, teach me, encourage me, and people that I can do the same for. It means that my story matters, as well as the stories of all the people I meet. My experiences and relationships at Vanguard University are something I could not get somewhere else, and to me that is priceless.

 

“I believe that God will use my time here to invest in relationships with people just like people are investing in me. They encourage and challenge me to see things differently, to view things like Jesus would, to be patient, to be more open-minded, to put my own desires aside. My friends make me a better person. I see Jesus in my relationships at VU, and that’s beautiful to me.”

 

Alina.solo.color560In addition to her growing relationships and connections with the Vanguard community, Alina has also experienced tremendous growth in her faith and spiritual formation.

 

“My relationship with God is continually evolving and I’m truly learning what it is to seek Him. I appreciate the effort and talent and time that goes into chapels and teaching so much, because it is no small task. But I am definitely gaining so much from all of it. I especially love the VU Spiritual Formation team (From the Vine Music) for producing and creating their new worship album. It’s incredible, and I’m so proud to be a part of the school that is producing such talent and something that others can enjoy.

After Alina graduates, she plans to travel to see more of the world that my God has created.

 

“There is so much to discover out there and I have barely gotten a taste. I also hope to be involved in an organization that is helping other people. I have a lot of different passions, and I don’t know yet how they will all come together, but I believe that God will use my talents and passions for His kingdom. I would love to start my own non-profit or be involved in managing an organization that I truly have a heart for. I’m an artist as well as a global enthusiast, so I would want to use my art and passion for people of the world, as well as my logic and management-oriented mind in the best way possible. I also deeply desire to have a family, and I want to show God’s love to people in my life through my relationships with them. I believe that’s my ministry, first and foremost.

 

Alina.garden560“There’s a verse that God has continually used in my life to speak to me in times where I’ve truly needed to lean on Him and trust in Him to bring me peace. Psalm 23: 1-3 has been extremely powerful in my life. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.”

 

Alina is grateful that she made the decision to attend Vanguard University, which was only possible thanks to the support from generous donors.

 

“I receive a yearly academic scholarship from Vanguard, and if it wasn’t for that, I would not be able to afford school. It is because of this financial aid that many of the students here, including myself, are able to participate and be involved in this incredible community of learning and sharing our faith. There is truly a reward for everyone because of what these people make possible.”

 

Gifts to the Vanguard University Annual Fund help fund scholarships to deserving students like Alina as well as support needs around campus. Thank you for your generosity that makes such a difference in our students’ ability to realize their God-given potential.

 

Click here to read more stories like Alina’s on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.

 

 

 

Sarah Godfrey, Vanguard University

A Priceless Experience

Sarah Godfrey, Vanguard University

Sarah Godfrey, a sophomore History and Political Science major, followed God’s call to Vanguard from her hometown in Forest Grove, Oregon and quickly learned that following His call doesn’t mean there won’t be worry or fear in the process: “It’s our human nature to feel those things. However, even in those times of fear and worry, God is still present and unfolding the adventures He has for me in this new season of life. There were times that I contemplated moving back to Oregon. Through the encouragement I received from my parents, my RA, and friends new and old, I chose to stay at Vanguard and it was the best decision I made. The people I’ve met at Vanguard are people that truly know what it means to be a friend. They are constantly uplifting one another, rejoicing in their friends’ happy moments, being empathetic in times of sorrow, and are always up for adventures.”

Sarah.friend560Sarah credits the relationships she’s built at Vanguard with also helping her grow spiritually. “I’m learning to trust that God will take care of me and learning to fully understand just how powerful and sovereign He is. He is all powerful, and yet, He chooses to be in partnership with us. He even sent His son to die for us even when He knew we could make the choice not to love Him back. That’s pretty powerful. Something that I will always be working on, is not having a difference between my “life” and my “spiritual life”. I think it is so easy for us to make God an “add on” or “side dish” to our life and that’s not what I want. I want spend all of my life being submerged in relationship with Him.”

Before she came to Vanguard, one of Sarah’s greatest struggles was feeling inadequate. “My Anthropology professor, Dr. Adam Ayers, asked me what I wanted to do with my degree. When I answered, ‘I’ll probably just teach high school history,’ he said that I might want to consider teaching college students instead. I told him ‘thank you, but that I wasn’t quite smart enough for that.’ When he replied, ‘I think you underestimate how intelligent you actually are,’ I felt so encouraged!”

Asked what makes Vanguard special, Sarah points to how the professors integrate faith into the curriculum, the tight-knit community, and the opportunities for mentorship. “The professors do such a wonderful job at showing that God is not only in Bible classes and church—He is in math, science, theater, anthropology—He is in everything. I also love Vanguard’s opportunities for mentorship. I’m currently participating in the Story Shapers Mentorship program in which we are paired with Vanguard Alumni and meet with them once a week. Getting to hear the perspective of someone who has been in my shoes and gotten through all of it has been so helpful in figuring out how to make the best of my time here.”

Sarah.group560After she graduates, Sarah would like to work with college students in some capacity whether it as a professor, an Admissions Counselor, or a Resident Director. She plans to get her teaching credential for K-12 as well. “I would also like to be able to bless Vanguard students by financially supporting academic scholarships and through being a mentor and speaking into the lives of college students. In general, I just hope to bless others through the skills I’ve learned and love of Christ I’ve developed here at Vanguard. I love 2 Timothy 1:7 that says ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind’ because it reminds me that because of God’s great love for us, we no longer have to live in the shadows. We can step into the light and be known and be loved. Because of his great love and being made in His image, we are given power and the capacity to love in powerful ways.”

 

 

 

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Beauty of My Story

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In the spring of 2014, Christine Correa, junior Worship Studies major from Sacramento, was faced with a devastating realization that she might have to drop out of Vanguard because of finances. Because she is the first member of her family to attend college, she hoped and prayed that funding would become available so she could complete her education. Fortunately, she was able to receive enough aid to continue.

 

“God is faithful! He is always looking out for His children. It helps me to remember that God is always with me, hears me and takes care of me.”

 

Christine has flourished because of the whole Vanguard Community. “Every time I come on campus it just feels like home. I have never been to a place that is so welcoming and has made me feel so loved. Sarah Scott, head of Worship Studies took me under her wing as a daughter and prayed over me, encouraged me and fought for me. She believed in me when I could not believe in myself.

 

Music Dept“Vanguard to me means a second chance. When I first came here, I was broken wanting to give up because I saw no worth in myself, but now all I see are endless opportunities. God completely changed me. I now see the beauty of my story, and know that I can do all things through Christ. Above all, I want to use my life to bless and serve others.”

 

Each year, performing in the Christmas Fantasia concerts is a highlight of students’ musical arts experience at Vanguard. “It’s so exciting for us to share the gifts God has given us and bless those who come.” This year, Dr. James Melton, director of the Music Department, had the honor of presenting Christine with a special scholarship during one of the performances.

 

“It is because of your spiritual gift of giving that allows students like me to not only attend college, but to be able to study the arts. I am so thankful from the bottom of my heart to those who invest in our education. You all have been a true blessing to the lives of every student–thank you for believing in us!”

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Gifts to the Annual Fund at Vanguard help fund scholarships to deserving students like Christine as well as support needs in the different departments like Music. Thank you for your generosity that makes such a difference in our students’ ability to realize their God-given potential.

 

Click here to read more stories like Christine’s on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.

Corrine Meekhof

Clear Calling on my Life

Corrine Meekhof

My name is Corrine Meekhof, and I am a senior Liberal Studies major from Wrightwood, California.

 

I heard about Vanguard University from a friend as a new Christian. The first time I visited VU, there was an incredible sense of community and God’s love seemed to radiate out of students all over campus. I had never felt a clear calling on my life until I visited Vanguard and felt that this was where God was calling me. It was overwhelmingly evident that this is where I would spend the next four years, but I just had no idea how that was going to work out financially. If it were not for financial aid, I would definitely not be here. I had fallen in love with Vanguard and was crushed when I did not think I would be able to afford it. At that point in my life I did not have an understanding of God’s provision, so I was really discouraged. Seeing God provide each semester has strengthened my faith in stepping into where God has called me and has ultimately increased my trust in Him. I cannot imagine how different my life would look if I was unable to attend Vanguard because of finances.

 

I don’t know if saying thank you to those who financially support Vanguard students is enough.

 

My prayer is that my contribution to this world during and after life at Vanguard can be a thank you. It is only because of their generous donations that I am able to obtain a degree and move on to reach my goal of becoming a teacher. The supporters are moving forth the Kingdom of God by allowing Vanguard students to feel empowered and chase after their dreams and, even more importantly, the call God has placed on their lives.

 

Vanguard Residence Life It is so interesting to think back to what my goals were when I first stepped foot on Vanguard’s campus. I started as an accounting major strictly because I wanted a job with stability. During my freshman year at Vanguard, I learned a lot about the importance of following God’s calling on my life. The following summer, I had a strong calling to switch my major to Liberal Studies and become a teacher. Details have unfolded since then and my ultimate goal is to become a middle school math teacher, and someday down the road also direct a middle school’s Associated Student Body (ASB) program. I would also love to teach abroad at some point, maybe during my time off during the summer. I am currently applying to masters programs in Oregon to pursue the next step of this adventure.

 

One word to sum up my experience at Vanguard would be growth.

 

Within that are relationships that have guided me through this growing process and the intentionality of Vanguard staff to create opportunities for me to be stretched. Some things that have contributed to my growth are the mission trips I have gone on since I have been here, being in Student Government Association my junior year, and being a Resident Assistant this year.

 

Fiji-kids560When I came to Vanguard, God placed people in my life who have helped me identify who I really am. I think my biggest struggle growing up was finding my worth in God. I was deeply impacted by the negative things people said to me in middle school, and I have carried those things with me ever since. My mentors and closest friends here at Vanguard have shown me nothing but grace and love during this journey of processing where these feelings of low self-worth came from. They never fail to point me to Jesus and remind me that my worth is in Him.

 

I cannot fully express how much I value the friendships I have made at Vanguard. I specifically remember a conversation I had with my roommate during freshman year, where we talked about how we had deeper conversations in the first week of college than we had in any of the years leading up to college. My friendships here have taught me the importance of vulnerability and being genuine. I have learned so much from the people I am surrounded by simply through the way they live their lives. Vanguard creates so many opportunities to grow deeper with my peers and continuously build new relationships. I am convinced that God has used Vanguard to allow me to meet certain people that will be a part of my life forever. When I picture my life in 30 years and think of the people that I will be surrounded by, the majority of those people are friends I have made at Vanguard.

 

Vanguard has had everything to do with my spiritual formation. I had called myself a Christian towards the end of high school, but I did not know what it looked like to live out my faith until my first year at Vanguard. Just being surrounded by friends who care about my walk with God has been huge. I have loved being a part of a community who holds me accountable and leads me to ask myself questions about my faith. I can guarantee that I will carry the lessons I have learned here with me in life beyond college.

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Vanguard will forever hold a place in my heart. It is where I have built some of the most genuine friendships, where I first heard God’s voice and have grown closer to Him ever since, and has shaped me in so many ways. Being a Christian does not mean I attempt perfection and get angry with myself when I fall short. I have realized that it is about loving others and showing Christ’s love through my actions. God loves me unconditionally and pours grace on me so I can do the same to others. I hope and pray that I can show grace to others in and out of the classroom because of what I have learned at Vanguard, that they would look at the transformation I have experienced, and that God would be glorified through that. I know that I have learned so much from the people around me here and that I have been blessed by so many of my relationships. It would be amazing to impact one person in a way that I have been impacted at Vanguard.

 

Romans 12:2 would be my “life verse” if I had to choose just one. It is a good reminder to not live for this world, but to live for Jesus who can transform us from the inside out. Vanguard has played a huge role in this transformation process in my life so far.

 

Click here to read more stories like Corrine’s on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.

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A Life-changing Blesssing

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Hi, my name is Lucas Brawner, and I’m a senior Psychology major at Vanguard.

 

I have a very supportive family back home in Hesperia, CA. My immediate family consists of my mom, twin sister, and our 3 little dogs. My strongest influence on my life would definitely be my mom. She has been a perfect example of strength and resilience throughout my entire life. As a single parent, she was responsible for raising a set of twins, working full-time, and climbing out of financial debt that some of life’s curveballs had put us in. She was able to do all of these things with the support of her siblings, and that really showed me the power behind family. Seeing her triumph over the hard times gave me something to strive for when I’m all grown up. To this day I am still learning so much from her, and am proud to call her my mom.

 

As a twin, my family has had to worry about two private college tuitions, but God always found a way to provide. The generosity that has come from Vanguard’s supporters has made it possible for me to attend all four years of my undergrad, and that is something that I could not be more thankful for! I don’t know if everyone understands how much of a blessing it is to receive scholarship money, but it really is a life-changing blessing for students like me. In a way, they have even had a hand in shaping the person I have become by enabling me to be at Vanguard for as long as I have. I couldn’t express my gratitude enough for the people who respond when God puts the act of giving on their hearts. Thank you so much.

 

When I came to Vanguard as a freshman, I quickly realized that this campus was filled with acceptance, understanding, and grace. Vanguard is a place where classmates and professors alike empower each other to strive towards Jesus and our individual callings.

 

There have been so many great memories here. I’ll never forget when our Men’s Basketball Team had a successful playoff run that led to a NAIA title last year. Not only because I’m obsessed with the sport, but also because it was the event that Vanguard really needed in order to unite our entire community. Supporting our team brought students, professors, and administrators all together in a very unique fashion.

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I have had nothing but positive experiences with professors while at VU. In particular, Elizabeth Powell in the Psychology department has exponentially increased my love for the field, and has sparked my interest in clinical work while taking multiple courses with her. I hope to go into secondary education and teach Psychology. I love Psychology because it helps me learn how to understand people, and in turn, know how to help people. I want to make a positive impact on the people around me. My goal is to be someone people don’t hesitate to come to for help. I love relationships, and psychology has helped me gain a more complete understanding of what healthy relationships entail.

 

Vanguard has taught me how to express myself spiritually not only with God but with other believers as well. That was a tough thing to do in my public high school. Spiritual formation has guided me as I explored the depths of my own personal faith. Vanguard provides a safe place where it’s okay to ask the tough questions, and to acknowledge doubt and struggles. Through recognizing my weaknesses here, VU has empowered me to ask for help and to grow spiritually out of those weaknesses.

 

I have so much school pride for Vanguard. Being honored with the opportunities to participate in leadership here through Student Government and Residence Life has really shaped me into the person I am today. I have never felt more at home here. Being a student leader on campus has given me many opportunities to mentor people around me. Having the opportunity to pour into my residents as an RA last year was one of the most challenging, yet rewarding jobs that I have ever had. While walking with students through their time here, relationships were formed that I will never lose. I never thought that I would grow as closely as I have with so many people. Ironically, I think I learned more from my residents than what they probably learned from me as their mentor. For example, they taught me what pure joy looks like. I naturally tended to stress myself out with self-implemented expectations, but my residents’ stress-free approach to their own lives really opened my eyes. They taught me how to not take myself so seriously all of the time.

 

The friendships that I have made here are ones that will impact me for my entire life. There is a deeper level of friendship that I have tapped into with a lot of my college friends, and those relationships have really influenced me to continue to grow into that person that God wants me to be. I know for a fact that I am going to continue to learn from my friends as I finish my time here at VU, and start the next stage of life with them by my side.

 

One of my favorite verses is: “Be strong and courageous! Do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” –Joshua 1:9

 

At Vanguard I learned that I am enough. I am enough for Jesus. I came into college with a strong feeling of inadequacy and brokenness, but all that has been put behind me. It took me two years here to finally realize that God had forgiven me ages ago, and that the people around me would accept me just like He did. Out of that came an overwhelming sense of belonging and acceptance.

 

Click here to read more stories like Lucas’ on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.

 

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