He Restores My Soul



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.”





Beauty of My Story



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!”



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.

Fiji Mission Trip

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.


A Life-changing Blesssing



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.


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.




Anything is Possible


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.


Down the Right Road


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.


My Heart’s Passion

Graduation 1


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.


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



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.