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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Anything is Possible

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My name is DeAngelo Jones,
and I’m a senior Communication major from Spokane, Washington.

 

I have had a lot of people that have influenced my life in a number of different ways. My oldest brother A.J. is an officer in the U.S. Army and my other brother Griffon is in graduate school in North Dakota. Both my parents are retired U.S. Air Force.

 

I’ve been blessed with great mentors, coaches, friends and family, but the biggest influence I have had on my life is my Mom. Because of her work schedule, my mom has never really been able to see me play any sports since I was a kid. She works so hard to support, love, and just be there for my brothers and me regardless of what happens. Her work ethic and how much she supports us have influenced me to be a hard working person no matter what my circumstances are. She is my motivation in just about everything I do.

 

BasketballOne of the biggest struggles for me was when I tore my ACL and lateral meniscus during basketball season at the Junior College I was attending. There was a time when I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play basketball again or if I would get recruited. I didn’t want to put that entire financial burden on my parents because it was already physically and mentally exhausting. Fortunately, my friends, family, and coaches encouraged me through my physical therapy and were there to bring me joy throughout that whole process.

 

I eventually received an athletic scholarship at Vanguard University. Basketball is what brought me here, but I realized God brought me through earlier challenges to shape me into who He wanted me to be. Although I did not grow up in a Christian home, he planted seeds my whole life to assure me that He was there for me. He never forgot about me or pushed me away even when I ran from Him.

 

The community at Vanguard is something special. I have never really seen anything like it! The way people love and treat each other around campus is so unique. I knew it was a place where I could grow.

 

I have had some great professors, but my main mentor was Brian “Boomer” Roberts, the assistant coach on the Men’s Basketball team. He led me to Christ and continued to encourage me in my walk with the Lord regardless of my struggles.

 

MissionFINALThe friendships I have made at Vanguard University are truly something special because I have met people from all different walks of life and who have some pretty miraculous stories. The friends that I have made here are people that would literally do anything for me. Also, the people that I am surrounded by constantly challenge me to become a better person and encourage me to become the man that God wants me to be. It’s great having friends who hold me accountable to own my faith. They shape me in great ways.

 

What I love most about being at Vanguard is the strong sense of community with my lifelong friends. There is really nothing like it. It has made my faith grow stronger in what I believe. I went on a mission’s trip with VU Athletics to Tanzania over the summer that completely changed my perception about a lot of things. That experience made me realize that with Jesus Christ anything is possible.

 

I have a lot of plans for my future. My goal is to work for a public relations agency, but I also want to create a clothing brand that can be used to share God’s message. I’d like to be a motivational speaker and share my story to help troubled kids or help out with a church ministry.

 

One of my favorite verses is: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) I feel like God brought me to Vanguard University to know Him better so I can be just that – A light to the world. I am excited to do that now and especially when I graduate!

 

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

Vandella

Down the Right Road

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My name is Vandella Jasso,
and I’m a junior majoring in Business Administration from Galt, CA.

 

I have never been more excited for what God has for me because I have learned so much about how beautifully crafted each of our stories are. I am known and seen here at Vanguard and in a society like this world’s, that’s difficult to come across.

 

I realized I needed to go to a Christian college to keep going down the right road with my faith and life. I wanted an education that incorporated faith into the schooling because I desired to learn more about my personal relationship with Christ and the Bible simultaneously. It was very important to me to surround myself with other believers so that I could be immersed in a community that continually pushed me to be a better person and explore what life God has designed for me specifically. I decided to make Vanguard my next big decision. Since then, it has been the best decision that I’ve ever made.

 

I have been stretched, pushed, cradled, and loved more than ever before. I have authentic friendships and incredible mentors in Student Leadership, my classes, and the Redemption church that I am a part of in Costa Mesa.

 

PeruOne professor in particular has mentored me since the beginning of my journey at Vanguard. Two years ago, as a first semester Freshman, I met my Persuasive Writing professor, Karrie Preasmyer. The first day of class I was drawn to the way she cared more about how we were doing with the transition into college individually than quickly jumping into the course work. That day, I asked her to be my mentor because we had been encouraged to seek out someone to walk with us throughout our Vanguard experience. Ever since, we have been meeting throughout the semesters and she has welcomed me into her home to spend time with her family and has been walking with me through my journey at Vanguard. She has been a consistent supporter and encourager in all areas of my life. She inspires me to follow my passions, to love others with intention and seek God in it all.

 

Receiving financial aid has created a way for me to be able to attend this school. No other school that I have come across has this much financial support for their students. It shows that alumni and donors believe in Vanguard and what we stand for and that is the most precious gift, more than just a check. The message behind those dollar signs means the world to me because I am benefiting not only financially, but I am evolving into the person that God created me to be and I could not see myself going through life anywhere else.

 

After I graduate, I am looking forward to using my Business degree and Sociology minor to work in the nonprofit sector to help others in the way God has gifted me. I hope to use the business techniques and passion for helping people in a capacity of higher leadership within a nonprofit. I know God will use my desire for traveling in this area as well, as long as I remain open and willing to follow wherever He will take me.

 

I desire to continue spending time traveling the world and learning more about other cultures and different ways of life. This love of travel was first sparked when I went out of the country for the first time at eleven years old with an organization, People to People. After exploring England and Scotland then Australia the following summer, I knew I could do more than travel and enjoying the world as my playground. My first mission’s trip was to Chapultepec, Mexico with my home church Horizon Community Church in Galt, CA. Every year since I was fifteen I have been back, either building houses or leading teams in ministering to orphanages. With the experience in missions and traveling I have been blessed with, I pray that God continues to take me around the world to minister and serve in any capacity that He equips me with.

 

Different chapel opportunities, Theology classes and conversations with peers have pushed me to learn more about the Bible, different denominations and my own personal relationship with Christ. I have been able to have some of the deepest conversations I have ever been faced with because of the safe and open space that is here at Vanguard; it really is a very special environment.

 

MexicoI never could have thought up the plan that has been unfolding over the last two years here at VU. I continually reflect on how far God has brought me and how faithful He has been to me through the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

Over the last two years I have not been able to spend a significant amount of time at home however I have been incredibly blessed to have two amazing parents and two precious siblings that have given me the opportunity to step away from the role as the eldest sibling to find myself with Christ. When I do get the opportunity to travel back home, we spend time together that is much more meaningful than ever before. They have been the constant supporters that have continually reminded me where I come from and what I am living for throughout all the change and growth I have experienced.

 

I have never been more excited for what God has for me because I have learned so much about how beautifully crafted each of our stories are. I am known and seen here at Vanguard and in a society like this world’s, that’s difficult to come across.

 

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

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My Heart’s Passion

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Hi, my name is Vanessa Williams, and I just graduated from Vanguard University with a major in Sociology. I chose Sociology as a major because I have always wanted to work with people in some capacity.

 

I was undeclared until the middle of my sophomore year but after taking my first Sociology class, I knew Sociology was the degree for me. At the time Professor Charity Perry taught the course and she really inspired me to pursue a career in Sociology.

 

As a first generation college student and with no knowledge about colleges, I typed “private Christian universities in California” into Google and Vanguard came up! I wanted to go to Christian University that would cultivate and deepen my faith. Vanguard was a place that I received that exact experience. I was able to further my relationship with Christ and truly learn what it meant to have a relationship with God, not just be a churchgoer.

 

I came to the campus for a tour and absolutely fell in love with Vanguard. I received an amazing scholarship from the university, and everything worked out so seamlessly that I felt it had to be God. I have been so blessed when it came to financial aid at Vanguard and am so extremely thankful for the aid I have received here the past four years.

 

There is no way I would have been able to attend Vanguard without the financial aid I received. My family didn’t have the means to support me through college, so without it, financing my education would have been completely my responsibility.

 

GroupMy favorite part of my Vanguard experience would have to be the community. Through student leadership, classes, and on-campus jobs, I have made the most solid and important friendships in my life. I don’t know what I would have done at Vanguard without them. The professors here have also been extremely supportive. All of my professors were approachable and warm. Vanguard professors want to be a part of empowering you and seeing you pursue your dreams and that is such a blessing.

 

Graduating from Vanguard, and walking across the stage as a first generation college student was a surreal experience. I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be the first person in my immediate family to successfully complete my degree. It felt so good! I have a huge family and I had 13 family members cheering me on that day. I love that I have been able to be an example for my family, especially my nieces. My parents are now back in school and both my older sisters talk about how I have encouraged them to continue to pursue their dreams and go back to school.

 

I wanted to work for a non-profit organization that specializes in families and children because a person’s family is the most crucial and life-altering relationship that he or she will ever have. Sadly, some kids don’t have the most positive experience of what family means, leaving emotional (and sometimes physical) scars that are carried into their everyday lives. My heart’s passion is to see strong families developed for children who may not have been born into the “typical” experience.

 

And now, I have that job! I just started working at Olive Crest, which is a non-profit in Orange County that supports foster kids. Their motto is “Strong Families, Safe Kids” I will be working in their Kinship program, which is a program that supports relative caregSoloFINALivers (i.e. a grandparent raising their adult child’s, children).

 

I am so very excited to take this next step in my career and to be completely honest, I heard about this agency through a Vanguard professor. When another staff member found out my interest in the organization, he connected me to a staff person there. We got coffee, and before my interview, she put in a good word for me. It’s just crazy that even outside of your graduating class, there is a Vanguard family in the workforce willing to support you and connect you to the right people. Isn’t God amazing?

 

Vanguard has had an immense impact on my spiritual formation –

  • I have learned different ways to worship and encounter God and I truly believe that I have found my faith in a different way during my time here.
  • I grew in learning to experience God in being quiet and understanding what a relationship with Jesus looks like.
  • I have also had the ability to strengthen my foundation and my faith at its core through chapels, mentorship, and Bible classes.
  • I feel like Vanguard helped me to see my faith in a different way, and in turn I can now carry that with me forever.

… And I hope that I can encourage others to do the same!

 

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

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Ample Opportunities

Michael Avila

Hi my name is Michael Avila. I’m from Moreno Valley in California and I just finished my sophomore year at Vanguard University as a Psychology major.

 

What brought me to Vanguard was the exceptional community that was full of genuine and unique people. I saw an opportunity to be a part of a family rather than just being another number among faces. Upon visiting the campus I immediately felt like this was a place where I belonged. I quickly attained a sense of pride in the university I was going to attend.

 

I have loved growing in my relationship with God and with other people. I have had ample opportunities that I know I would not have received without being at Vanguard. I have been able to experience and perceive different ways of life through the people that God has placed around me and made genuine friendships that I know will follow me through the rest of my life.

 

Receiving financial aid has helped me by simply allowing me to be able to attend Vanguard University. Without the financial aid that I receive, I would not have the opportunity
to further my education past a high school diploma.

I have been able to increase my learning within not only academics, but the arts as well. Financial aid has also supported me within my musical abilities. I get the chance to make something better of myself that I might one day be able to better serve God and His people. I appreciate the way in which God has used such generous donors to further expand His kingdom and bring Him eternal glory.

 

After I graduate, I plan to go on to graduate school and earn my degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I find that family is the most important aspect in a person’s life and I have seen what it is like when a family is disconnected. I want marriages to reveal the true love of God that they are meant to reside in. I desire for families to seek God in all areas of life attributing to children so that they can grow to be outstanding adults. I also plan to consistently be involved in my church within the children’s ministry, praying that it continues to grow and helps to teach and raise up children in the ways of the Lord.

 

Vanguard Singers and BandWithin the past 2 years in my time at Vanguard, I have grown in my relationship with the Lord more than the previous 17 years of my life. I have been able to take the standards that I was blessed to be raised with and adopt them as my own, rather than just being under the wing of my parents. God has taught me to see the diversity that lies within His people as we all come from different denominations, backgrounds, cultures, and societies. He has allowed me to go through hell and back to see the beauty of His majesty that resides all around me. I see God, more than ever, as my healer, savior, shepherd, deliverer, redeemer, strength, and provider. Because of the spiritual emphasis that Vanguard places on not only within chapel and prayer, but through our education as well, I am able to reap the benefits.

 

I cannot be thankful enough for the participation that I am allowed to have through academics and music here at Vanguard University. This summer, I had the fortunate opportunity to go on a mission’s trip with the Vanguard Singers and Band to Europe for 3 and a half weeks. We went to 8 different countries to share our talents and the love of God to people across the world. We also served in orphanages and took evangelistic opportunities to proclaim and glorify the name of the Lord. It is opportunities like these that I get to be a part of with the generous help of Vanguard University donors.

 

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

Drawn Into the Current

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Hi, my name is Katherine Smith and I graduated earlier this month from Vanguard with a major in Religion. Everyone talks about the Vanguard community (and everyone opens with the line “Everyone talks about the Vanguard community…”) but honestly, the community and vitality that exists in this school has changed my life in more ways than I can count and for which I will never stop being thankful. Vanguard has a life to it, and I love that so much—I feel like I’m drawn into the current of ideas and purpose and learning just by being a part of this school. It’s hard not to get caught up in it! So many people here are genuinely looking to live life intentionally and push beyond the boxes of our cultures and internal struggles, to learn about themselves, to process their lives, to grow and learn about each other and God—I could go on forever about the things I love about Vanguard.

 

Without the scholarship and financial aid I received,
I would definitely not have been able to attend Vanguard.
It’s really as simple as that–none of it would ever have been possible without
the scholarships and financial aid I’ve received!

 

EthiopiaReally my only goal is just a life lived in pursuit of this God who has always been pursuing me and to learn more about Him in every way I can–through the people, places, through the experiences of this messy life. The paths I’ll end up taking along the way—that remains to be seen, and that’s definitely the fun part.

 

One tentative dream would be to one day work with an international relief organization and to be able to bring into the work of meeting tangible, physical needs the additional elements of pastoral care and psychology in the hopes of meeting the suffering people in ways that speak to the holistic person and the complexities of what it means to be human rather than just what’s tangible at the surface. I would love to live a life of loving and caring for the hurting people of this world like God has loved and cared for me.

 

Sorority squatMy time at Vanguard has been absolutely transformational in so many ways, not just spiritual. But I would definitely have to say that the professors and staff here are unbelievable and have impacted my faith so much in the ways that they have loved me and been Jesus to me. I came in completely undecided as to my major and was as ready to major in English as I was to go into Business or Psychology but ended up moving over to be a Religion major within my first year just because of how much, even in that short time, God had been working in me through the professors and staff here, specifically in that department. I wanted to huddle as close to that flame as possible, and to learn as much as I could and glean as much wisdom from these amazing men and women as possible while I was here. I can definitely say that my understanding of my faith and my God and myself has been completely reshaped in the best possible way because of my time here. Again, I am so full of gratitude.

 

I’m going to miss this place immensely! I cannot say enough how thankful I am to these buildings and halls and grassy lawns and the people and faces who have filled them and made this a Home for me. I am so grateful for Vanguard.

 

Read more stories like Katherine’s on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.

But I know God had a plan for me here…

 

Kirk Sheplay was faced with a tough decision in the summer of 2009—where to attend school—and five years later considers Vanguard to be the best decision he has ever made. As a Lion, the fifth-year senior guard for the ninth-ranked Vanguard Men’s Basketball program has blossomed into a man on his way to becoming a doctor and a difference-maker throughout the world.
“Honestly, Vanguard was one of my last choices,” Sheplay openly states. “But I know God had a plan for me here, and he shut doors to other places and opened the door to Vanguard. Time after time God has shown me his plan is better, and I am so thankful for that.”
Since joining the Men’s Basketball program as a freshman in 2009-2010, Sheplay has grown as a basketball player and as a leader on and off the floor. He earned his degree in Biology in May 2013, graduating with a remarkable 3.9 GPA, earning NAIA Scholar-Athlete while balancing basketball and other campus activities. Now a 22-year old graduate student who is a leader in the locker room while pursuing a Master’s degree in Theological Studies, Sheplay is able to reflect on his time as a Lion.
“Vanguard has changed my life,” Sheplay says. “Coming here was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have experienced true community at Vanguard, which is something special. The basketball team is a great example of being a family. We have the best coaches in the world, and they place a big emphasis on winning and competing at a high level, but they put more emphasis in how we mature as men of God. They pour their heart into everyone in the program to become good basketball players, but more importantly to be men who make a difference.”
After the 2013-2014 season, Sheplay will have exhausted all of his eligibility for the Lions. However, he is even more excited about the next step in life.
“My future goal is to be a physician,” Sheplay comments. “I want to work overseas as a ministry, fulfilling the great commission and spreading the word of God. That is why I am also getting my Masters in Theological Studies, so I can be prepared as possible to make an impact. I have seen the need for doctors across the world. People come by the thousands to medical clinics, and we are able to treat their physical and their spiritual needs as well.”
Sheplay is no stranger to being in foreign countries. He has visited over 20 countries on mission trips, including recent trips with VU athletes to the Himalayas and Australia. He is also part of the team of Lions heading to Tanzania in the summer in 2014.
“My vision is to make a lasting impact on this world on a grand scale,” he says. “I don’t want my impact to die when I die. I want it to continue on. My dream is to make hospitals overseas, staff them and fund them, and once they’re sustainable I will move on and do the same thing in a different place.”
Sheplay has shown the determination to make a difference not only across the world, but in The Pit as a VU athlete. A popular teammate who has grown into a leadership role, Sheplay is a crowd favorite known for his physical and mental toughness.
“Kirk is a pleasure to coach,” states Vanguard Head Men’s Basketball Coach Rhett Soliday. “He brings everything he has every day, and makes our team better and tougher. But more importantly, Kirk is a great example of Christ’s love to his teammates and the people at VU. Kirk will be missed in The Pit, but we know he has a bigger purpose than basketball.”
Sheplay also recognizes the connection between his passion for basketball and the desire to use his gifts beyond Vanguard. He sees it in the relationships between his teammates and coaches, in the student body, and in the support from alums and Invest in Gold donors. In his mind, there is no coincidence.
“Our coaches, and really everyone at Vanguard, encourage us to graduate and make an everlasting impact on this world,” Sheplay excitedly says. “They have made us disciples because of their examples, and they challenge us to go make disciples on our own. Because of the impact Vanguard and the basketball team has had on my life, I see myself always supporting the program in the future. I want to give back, because I have literally seen it change my life and the lives of my teammates. Since I have been here, numerous guys have made a decision to follow the Lord, which is amazing. The whole athletic department over the last few years has really blossomed spiritually.”
Vanguard’s mission statement is to equip each student for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service. There may not be a better example of fulfilling the mission statement than the story of Kirk Sheplay. The tough, scholar-athlete, doctor-to-be who embodies everything Vanguard and the athletic department is all about.

So I took a chance…

Stephanie Flores  Like so many other student-athletes at Vanguard University, Stephanie Flores took an unusual route to the VU Volleyball program.  As a senior at Yucaipa High School in 2011, the high school volleyball star had her sights set on a high profile program.

 “Erin Leja, the Lions’ Head Volleyball Coach,was an assistant for my club team, and kept talking about Vanguard to me,” said Flores, now a sophomore for the Lions. “I knew it was in a good location, so I took a chance.”

The chance has paid off in many ways for the 6-1 middle blocker.  Flores has played in all 24 matches for the Lions in 2013, starting 20 of them.  Through the first 23 contests, Flores had posted 94 kills and totaled 44 blocks, near the top of the leaders for NAIA’s tenth-ranked squad.  On November 5, Flores had a huge block and kill in the fifth and deciding set in an upset of No.2 Concordia. 

It is obvious that Flores’ talent has helped the VU Volleyball program continue to roll on the volleyball court, but what is most encouraging is the growth Flores has experienced away from the gym. 

In addition to her play on the court for the Lions, Stephanie boasts a 3.7 GPA in the classroom, and is pursuing a degree in Kinesiology.  Flores is actively involved in BAM (Beyond Athletic Ministries), a Bible study for athletes that meets twice a month, and was a part of the Vanguard Athletics mission trip to Australia in the summer of 2013. 

“The Christian aspect of Vanguard was very new to me,” Flores admitted.  “But coming to Vanguard has given me more than I could have ever expected.  I gave my life to Jesus my freshman year, and I have learned to walk life with God on and off the court, confiding in Him. I now live for something other than myself and have grown to trust him with my life.”

Women's VolleyballAfter serving with her team on the mission trip, Flores decided to step up and lead her fellow student athletes as a LION (Leader Influencing Our Nation’s Sports) in the Champion of Character class at Vanguard, taught by Athletic Director Bob Wilson.  The student-leaders help facilitate small groups with various coaches and new student-athletes within the athletic department, and conversations revolve around Gold Pride and the five character values that the NAIA and Vanguard University promote.

“I love being a Lion and being able to walk with other athletes and teach them what Gold Pride is all about,” Flores stated.  “As a peer, we get to walk with them and mentor them. It’s awesome.”

Though she is only scratching the surface of her time at Vanguard, Flores has clearly been impacted by her first 15 months at VU. 

“I am grateful to be a part of Vanguard athletics and the volleyball program,” Flores said. “This team and this athletic program are a family.  The coaches invest in the student-athletes every day, even if they don’t coach your sport.  I know that is rare, and I am very thankful to be a part of such a special place.”

Just like I had back home…

Clinton Munoz1Wow, my time at Vanguard flew by before I knew it! My name is Clinton Munoz; I’m twenty-two years old and just graduated this past May with a degree in Business Administration. My hometown is Kingsburg, CA. It is one of those towns off the 99 freeway that if you blink, you’ve probably missed it. You can’t even walk down the street without seeing a familiar face or going to the super market without running into a close friend. One reason I chose Vanguard was because of the same “close family” feeling that I felt on campus- just like I had back home.

The first time I visited the campus was during a PreVU event. A few of the Juniors and Seniors at Vanguard found out I played worship and asked if I would grab my guitar and lead us in some songs. I was so nervous but within half an hour there were twenty-five people singing in the lobby, praying, and worshipping together. It was then that I knew Jesus was living and moving at Vanguard and I wanted to be a part of it.

Clinton Munoz5Honestly I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Lord guiding my steps at Vanguard. I had the opportunity to lead worship not only on campus, but also in Germany, Portugal, France and China through Vanguard Singers and Band. I chose Vanguard in the beginning for music, but that changed quickly when I realized my gifting and passion for business. All of my experiences taught me new things about myself and challenged and encouraged my walk with Christ.
Vanguard also was able to help me financially coming out of high school. I got a letter in the mail saying I received financial aid and I ran into the kitchen telling my mom and dad, “The Lord has opened up the door for me to go!” Without financial aid, I would not have been able to pursue an education at Vanguard. I received a music scholarship and an academic scholarship. I want to thank all of the supporters of Vanguard that helped make this great education a reachable goal. Because of them my life was changed and I have been able to strengthen my faith in the Lord and discover the gifts He has given me.

Clinton Munoz3There is one more reason I am so thankful that I was able to attend Vanguard…and that is because I met my future wife here. I will be getting married to Charity Rouland in less than twenty days (but who’s counting) and I couldn’t be more blessed! I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with God’s beautiful daughter. I also am grateful to have a job at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management where I am finding out what God wants to do with me as I serve as a client sales associate. This next season of life is going to be one full of adventure, new experiences and full of faith. When following the Lord, one can expect nothing less than unending grace and a life full of excitement.

Read more stories like Clinton’s on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.

Without it, I would not be here.

Brielle AllbaughFor as long as I can remember, Vanguard University has been a part of my family and talked about on a regular basis; so it only made sense for me to attend this great school when the time came. My name is Brielle Allbaugh and I am a Liberal Studies major, a senior this year, and a proud Legacy Family member.

I’m from northern San Diego and grew up in an Assemblies of God home. My dad and grandpa were both AG pastors. My parents, Jonathan ’88 and Karla ’91, met at Vanguard, graduated, and married here. My mom used to tell us stories of her and her friends when they were in college, and we visited VU often when I was younger. I remember being at Vanguard (then called SCC), and thinking it was so big and welcoming. In high school, my youth pastor had just graduated from VU, and I wanted to have a relationship with God and life like him. He had nothing but great things to say about the university and would take us on visits of the campus. Vanguard was so glamorized in my mind (and rightfully so!), and when it came time to choose where to attend college and prepare for life, I wanted to continue in my parents’ footsteps. There was no question, Vanguard University was the place.

Brielle Allbaugh2I’ve been told that your college years are some of the best in your life, so I’ve tried to make the very most out of my time here. I’ve had the ultimate experience when it comes to getting involved. I’ve enjoyed Frontline, Student Government, and Residence Life. To my surprise, I have found that some of my favorite times at Vanguard have been when I am just another student figuring out life. I’ve learned to depend on the support of the community-the people living around me. I have made amazing friends that have helped me grow in my faith and have created memories that will last a lifetime. Simply being a student at Vanguard University has been life changing.

Brielle Allbaugh3Vanguard University has been a place where I have felt safe to be vulnerable, grow in my faith, and learn from the people around me. There is no place I would rather spend my college years than at Vanguard. Financial support made my dream of being able to prepare for life here possible. Without it, I would not be here, it’s that simple. Financial aid was the biggest God-send.  I am forever grateful to all those who give so generously and am blessed that God provided, making it possible for me to be here during some of the most important years of my life.

I know that when I graduate I will be entering the “real world” with confidence and faith because of my great experiences at Vanguard University.

Read more stories like Brielle’s on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.