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.