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Vanguard University Professor’s Original Play Reaches New York Stages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Students Slide on Ice in Annual Broomball Games

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

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

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

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

Find out about upcoming VU Rec events by clicking here!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Veterans Club Rides Waves to Connect Community and Wounded Veterans

WOV HBOn September 27, Vanguard University’s Veterans Club will join with Team Red, White and Blue (Team RWB) and the VA of the greater Los Angeles Healthcare System to help host Team RWB’s 2nd annual Waves of Valor Surf Camp.

From 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., members of the greater Los Angeles community are invited to come to lifeguard tower 24 in Huntington’s Bolsa Chica State Beach for a day of serving wounded veterans. Team RWB is looking for people to volunteer in various capacities: surfing instruction, administrative check-ins, beach logistics, first aid and multiple other tasks. The OC Team RWB Chapter Captain and Vanguard Veterans Club Treasurer Christopher Merkle said they have already received a great response for volunteers and would be happy to have more.

At this event, people from the community will be able to connect with the veterans on a personal level in the water and on the beach. The one-on-one surfing instruction develops a sense of fellowship between the community members and the veterans, which “helps in the reintegration process,” Merkle said.  After about four hours of surfing, the veterans and community members will gather on the beach to enjoy food and a space to continue their conversations.

As seen in the past, the camp helps  “wounded veterans own a day of independence in the water,” Merkle said. The veterans experience “freedom flying on the water,” and a huge sense of accomplishment as they progress throughout the day, he said. They also experience the love and genuine care of community members who volunteer their time and energy to create a day focused on blessing these veterans.

Vanguard’s Veterans Club will join with the community volunteers and Team RWB to bless the 30 selected veterans from the VA of the greater Los Angeles Healthcare System at the event. Merkle said the club is looking to be more involved with the community this year through service-oriented projects. “By helping others, we help ourselves,” he said as he described the power of community service in pulling veterans back into their communities.

Join the Vanguard serving team, by clicking here and signing up for a volunteer position.

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Four Vanguard University Students Receive NHCLC Scholarships

NHCLClogoOn September 5, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) recognized four Vanguard University students in their announcement of the 2014-2015 NHCLC Scholars.

According to their scholarship announcement, the NHCLC provides competitive scholarship opportunities to “outstanding students attending sponsor universities to assist them in continuing their academic pursuits.” Vanguard University’s 2014-2015 NHCLC scholars are Christine Correa, Samuel Flores, Heidi Lupe and Sylvana Marquina.

Shocked by her selection, worship studies major Christine Correa said the scholarship blessed her beyond the financial aid. From the scholarship prompt options, Correa chose to write about the Imago Dei, the image of God. Having a reason to explore this concept more was enough for Correa, she said, “I knew whether I received the scholarship or not, I was very excited about the prompt.”

When describing her discoveries in studying the image of God, Correa’s passion about the topic shined a light on the scholarship-worthy content of her essay. “Last year, it just kind of soaked in my spirit,” she said, “God has an image and vision for each person.” The importance of understanding Imago Dei is to understand that it means “to love others unconditionally and see them as the image of God,” she added.

After sharing about her essay, Correa said she wanted to encourage students to apply for next year’s scholarship. For one thing, “you never know what you can learn from a prompt,” she said. “If you don’t put yourself out there, you don’t know what money or scholarship you could get to help pay for school,” she added.

To learn more about the NHCLC, visit their website by clicking here.

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Vanguard University Ranks 33 in Top 50 Ranking of Christian Colleges and Universities Exceeding Expectations

VUSCAccording to Christian Universities Online (CUO), Vanguard University ranks number 33 in a top 50 ranking of Christian Colleges and Universities Exceeding Expectations that released on August 31, 2014.

CUO created the “Exceeding Expectations Value” by using the difference between predicted and actual graduation rates. CUO acquired data for the schools’ predicted graduation rates from U.S. News. To be in the ranking, schools had to meet initial standards, such as being accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS) and being a member/affiliate of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).

Christian Universities Online states that their goal for this list is to “provide an alternative perspective to help parents and students make the most informed decision they can when selecting a Christian institution of higher education.” CUO seeks to do this by “focusing on how much or little they enhance the achievement of their students from acceptance till graduation.”

Christian Universities Online is “an independent online resource for prospective students and their families researching Christian higher education.” To view the ranking, click here.

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Students Start Year with a Bounce

rsz_0904142154Starting the new academic year with some friendly competition, Vanguard University’s Residence Life hosted their first all-school dodge ball tournament on September 4 in the gym at 9:30 p.m.

With a turnout that packed The Pit, the tournament featured a night of new friendships, healthy rivalries and strengthened community. It also featured a unique twist. Added to the traditional dodge ball game rules, this tournament added a spinning wheel of strange handicaps that determined what teams had to do during each match. Wheel slots included various challenges like playing with one arm, having only one foot touching the ground and having to keep your whole team in straight lines like soldiers.

Assigned different team colors, each campus building rallied together to compete against the other buildings. Desiring to gather all of the Vanguard community, Residence Life invited commuters to team up with Vanguard Center (VC), the university’s off-campus housing. Laguna, Huntington, Balport, Catalina Hall and the Vanguard Center/ Commuter team faced off on the court sporting their colors and putting their building/team names into classic cheers.

Entering as the underdogs, the Vanguard Center/Commuter team battled their way to the top finishing the night as the undefeated champions. Before the tournament, Vanguard Center hosted a kick-off BBQ with games, burgers and music at 6:30 p.m. to rally commuters and VC residents. Describing the tournament and BBQ, VC Resident Assistant (RA) Jaime Saravia said it was great “seeing people who don’t normally get plugged in, get plugged in.” He said the tournament succeeded in getting commuters more involved right from the start of the year. “I think it will become a tradition,” Saravia added.

To learn more about Residence Life and more upcoming events, click here.

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Friendships

When I went away to college my freshmen year, I was told I would meet friends that would develop into lifelong friendships. Over my time at Vanguard I have discovered this to be true and I have been so blessed by the friendships I have created. In my blog, Fall Adventures and Lifelong Friendships, I talked about some of the first friends I made at Vanguard and how our friendships have grown.

photoLast week, I got to show one of my friends and teammates my hometown for a couple of days. We went on a hike to a waterfall and spent the day at the river. Having Melissa come to visit made me realize how valuable our friendship is and I was so lucky to get to share with her another piece of my life.

Throughout my life I have experienced many different types of friendships and have realized that people will come and go from your life. There are friends for moments, seasons and lifetimes. While it is perfectly fine to develop different friendships with people throughout different seasons of your life, I have found that the friends who stick by your side throughout every season in your life are the best kinds of friends to have.

As many of you go through the end of your senior year and see one chapter of your life closing, it is very possible that many of your friendships will fade while some will grow even stronger. Most importantly you will develop new friendships as you begin a new chapter in your life in the fall.

-Lindsey