Vanguard University will celebrate graduates of the Class of 2016 from its reputable nursing program during the university’s Nursing Pinning Ceremony. The ceremony will be held Thursday, May 5 at 10 a.m. at Newport Mesa Church on the Vanguard University campus in Costa Mesa.

The ceremony will present 40 nursing graduates with a traditional pin containing two symbols—the Florence Nightingale Lamp and the traditional Christian cross—chosen by the inaugural group of students enrolled in the RN to BSN program at Vanguard University. Historically, the nursing pinning tradition can be traced back to the Crusades of the 12th Century; by 1916 it became standard in the U.S. to award all nursing graduates with a pin during a distinct ceremony to show proof of their education.

In addition to the pinning presentation, the program will include remarks given by the Vanguard University president Michael J. Beals, professors from the nursing program, and an address given by Richard Moorehead, ICU nurse for 23 years, and current ICU clinical supervisor at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center.

Moorehead never suspected that he would be headed back to school at age 50. As an ICU nurse at Saddleback Memorial, Moorehead worked in the same facility as Paulette Scherr, a charge nurse and Vanguard University nursing student at the time. She motivated him to pursue his degree, and eventually, Moorehead enrolled and got started. Paulette Scherr graduated Summa Cum Laude from Vanguard University in 2012, and soon after passed away after a battle with cancer. Moorehead knew he had to finish his nursing degree, with Paulette in the back of his mind.

“She was my motivator,” said Moorehead.

Just one month after completing his RN to BSN degree from Vanguard University last December, Moorehead was diagnosed with colon cancer. The news was a shock, and Moorehead found himself on the other side of the nurse’s station, in an operating room at the very hospital where he was employed. After one surgery, and a miraculous discovery of cancer-free lymph nodes, Moorehead was clear of the disease and on his way to recovery. A classmate and friend from Vanguard University’s nursing program, Marthasella Francisco, ended up being his post-surgery nurse at Saddleback Memorial during his nearly 4 days recuperating.

“Now I have been on the other side of things, being a patient in the hospital, and I have learned so much,” said Moorehead. “If I am at the nurse’s station and a person walks up, I know that maybe they are scared, they are uncertain.”

Richard Moorehead completed the RN to BSN program at Vanguard University in December, and will be walking with the Class of 2016 in May. He is originally from Cleveland, Ohio and currently resides in Laguna Niguel, California.

Vanguard University offers two levels of nursing education—a Registered nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Both programs provide the theoretical knowledge, skills and experiences necessary for students to advance in the healthcare profession. The programs provided to students are designed to enhance patient well being in today’s complex healthcare environment. Vanguard University’s nursing program partners with hospitals including Western Medical Center Santa Ana and Anaheim, Coastal Communities Hospital and Chapman Medical Center to offer employees tuition discounts to assist nursing professionals advance in their field.

For more information on the 2016 Commencement events, visit


Nathan Gonzales


Editor and publisher of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, Nathan Gonzales `00, will give Vanguard University’s Commencement address on Friday, May 6, 2016 at Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Approximately 513 undergraduate students and 80 graduate students will receive diplomas at this year’s ceremonies.

From working in the White House Press Office to covering U.S. House, Senate and gubernatorial campaigns and Presidential politics, Nathan Gonzales has become an important voice in Washington.

“Nathan Gonzales is a fantastic example of where a Vanguard education can take you,” said Dr. Michael Beals, president of Vanguard University. “He has modeled our core values of truth, virtue and service, and has excelled in the political realm, making a significant impact in our nation’s capitol.”

Gonzales is currently editor and publisher of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report—previously an editor, analyst, and writer for The Rothenberg Political Report for more than 13 years before taking over the newsletter in 2015. He is also a contributing writer for Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and the founder and publisher of Gonzales has appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press and NBC Nightly News, the Newshour on PBS, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, and Fox News Channel, and has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. Just two years after graduating from Vanguard University with a bachelor of arts in communication, Nathan worked for ABC NEWS on their Election Night Decision Desk.

Gonzales will give the commencement address at the undergraduate ceremony at 10 a.m. and the professional studies and graduate ceremony at 4 p.m. Both ceremonies will take place in the Worship Center at Mariners Church. Press passes are available.

To tune into the live stream of the Commencement 2016 ceremony, visit



Over 150 people gathered on Vanguard University’s Costa Mesa campus, and via livestream nationwide, for the annual Ensure Justice Conference, held March 4-5. The conference was hosted by Vanguard’s reputable Global Center for Women and Justice, and gathered national and local leaders, students, law enforcement, teachers, and child welfare professionals from across the U.S. and Nigeria, in the name of social justice.

This year’s conference kicked off with a free Walk for Freedom 5K, fitting the 2016 conference theme, “A Marathon: To End Human Trafficking.” The weekend included panel sessions, health care provider trainings and networking opportunities with a focus on providing more aftercare resources for human trafficking victims and their families.

“The key aspect to this conference is networking,” said Dr. Sandra Morgan, director of Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice. “We have made huge strides in rescuing captives and prosecuting the traffickers, but every day there are more victims and there are more traffickers. So, we have intentionally created a space to do something together—to consider our own role in this issue.”

Conference speakers at the 2-day event included Dr. Morgan; Honorable Maria D. Hernandez, presiding juvenile justice, Orange County; Dr. Laura Lederer, president of Global Centurion; Gary Taylor, division director of Children and Family Services; Deborah S. Augustine, national program manager for the Victim Witness Assistance Program, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Frank Massolini, director of The Salvation Army Promise Program; Jason Pope, technical advisor for The Salvation Army World Service Office; Priscilla Santos, program coordinator for The Salvation Army’s Anti-Trafficking Services Program; David and Dr. Beth Grant, co-founders and co-directors of Project Rescue; Ken Morris, founder and president of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives; Dawn Marie Lemmonds, chair of Aldersgate Abolitionists; and Derek Marsh, Bureau of Justice Assistance visiting fellow for human trafficking.

Friday’s conference sessions discussed vulnerable children and illicit drugs, and human trafficking as a community health issue. Day one ended with a lively Q&A, where livestreaming audience members texted and emailed questions in, and an in-person audience also raised questions. On Saturday, sessions were strategically divided by subject: research, educators, healthcare, social services, church leaders, youth outreach, and the Spanish track. Dr. Morgan, ending the weekend conference, gave a powerful “call to action” to all attendees.

“To stay the course for long term change, we must have a plan to train—much like marathon runners—to sustain, and to focus our efforts,” said Dr. Morgan.

Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice (GCWJ) is a faith-based organization dedicated to creating a world where women and children are safe, respected and valued. The GCWJ carries out their mission through education, research, advocacy and collaboration with students, educators, law enforcement, healthcare and community leaders.  With over 21 million people living in slavery today, the GCWJ works diligently in their efforts to end human trafficking and the cyber-exploitation of women and children in Orange County and worldwide.

For more information on the GCWJ and Ensure Justice Conference, visit:


Vanguard Early Childhood Education Chair and husband to cover college tuition for Class of 2032


Dr. Chun-Burbank, an early-childhood education chair at Vanguard University, grew up in South Korea. She said her parents couldn’t afford to pay her college tuition, but with her aunt’s financial support she became a first-generation college graduate.

“I like the movie ‘Pay It Forward,’” Chun-Burbank said. “I got a lot of help and now I’m helping others. And I hope they can do that too.”

Read the full story online here.


Theatre Arts Alumna Bretlyn Schmitt `15 Named Woman of the Year

by Tom Titus

There exists, right here in our own backyard, a wealth of theatrical talent. This newspaper has celebrated it for the past four decades, honoring, at the close of each year, two individuals who have excelled in their specialties, beginning with David Emmes and Doris Allen in 1974.

On this, the 42nd such occasion, the spotlight falls on a writer/actor who’s also a magician and a recent college graduate who has created some exceptional choreography during her time at a local university.

They are two people who charmed audiences at the Huntington Beach Playhouse and Vanguard University, respectively, during the past year — Scott Ratner and Bretlyn Schmitt, the Daily Pilot’s man and woman of the year in theater for 2015.

Read full article.


Vanguard University celebrates scholars during sold out performance at Renee & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall

Vanguard University’s department of music performed their 19th annual Christmas Fantasia concert at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall on Tuesday, December 9, 2015. The festival of sacred and popular Christmas music was performed for a sold-out audience of over 1,600 Orange County concertgoers, all poised to share in the spirit of the season.

Nearly 200 students from the university’s award-winning music ensembles took to the sizeable Segerstrom stage, following a powerful Christmas prelude by organist, Dr. Jung-A Lee, on the 48-foot silver leaf pipe organ. After a rousing overture of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, the audience took to their feet and joined the university’s choirs and orchestra in a festival of classic Christmas carols. During the 90-minute performance, nine of the department’s 13 music ensembles filled the acoustically vibrant concert hall with holiday music.

A VIP reception was held at The Center Club, where red lighting, silver décor, and crystal chandeliers lit up the room of 250 guests including Vanguard University faculty, board members and community leaders. Hot cocoa, candied apples and eggnog were served amidst the Christmas trees and twinkling lights, while student musicians serenaded in the background. Vanguard University President, Dr. Michael Beals, and Vice President for University Advancement, Justin McIntee, took the stage at the reception to thank guests and honor top sponsors, Meguiar’s, Farmers & Merchants Bank, and Hoag Orthopedic Institute. Dereesa Reid, CEO of Hoag Orthopedic Institute, expressed her gratitude for Vanguard’s department of music and acknowledged the school’s distinguished reputation in higher education.

Vanguard University began its Christmas Fantasia tradition 19 years ago, with the Orange County community in mind. Since its inception, the concert has grown from an intimate dessert reception to a major event, now in its 6th year at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

Since 2009, the concert has concluded with a special presentation of the Ralph Carmichael Scholarship Award. This award was established in honor of the famous composer and arranger who studied music at Vanguard University—the first four-year college in Orange County. Carmichael graduated Vanguard and went on to write arrangements for top performers including Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, and Stan Kenton, while serving as musical director for I Love Lucy.

During the December 8 Segerstrom performance, Vanguard University’s president, Dr. Michael Beals, awarded Janelle Harriman with the Ralph Carmichael Scholarship Award for her outstanding academic performance within the university’s music performance program. Harriman, class of 2016 and a native of Vancouver, Washington, will receive her degree in worship studies, one of the newest majors of study at Vanguard University. Robert McIntire and Sarah Whaley were also awarded with $1,000 in music scholarship dollars, at the December 4 Christmas Fantasia concert, held at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach. McIntire, a sophomore, and Whaley, a junior, are also students in the worship studies program.

“The department of music at Vanguard University is a preeminent place to be exposed to the music and arts industry of Southern California,” said Justin McIntee, vice president for university advancement. “We are thrilled with the commitment of our donors and their support of our students—the next generation of industry leaders.”


Vanguard University Receives $2.57 Million U.S. Department of Education Grant to Expand Opportunities for Hispanic and Low-income Students

Vanguard University’s efforts to celebrate racial and ethnic differences in community life are accelerating, thanks to an infusion of funding from the U.S. Department of Education. As part of a more than $51 million federal grant for 96 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Vanguard has received a five-year $2.57 million grant to strengthen and expand educational opportunities for Hispanic and low-income students through its Diversity & Inclusion Department. Vanguard is the only four-year, Orange County-based institution and one of only two Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) institutions to receive funding.

Vanguard opened its Diversity & Inclusion Department in 2009 to encourage students to explore cultural diversity, racial reconciliation and gender equality issues. As a federally designated HSI – an institution of higher education with at least 25 percent Hispanic full-time equivalent undergraduate enrollment – Vanguard is recognized for making college more attainable for Hispanic students. This grant will allow the private, Christian university of liberal arts and professional studies to further educational opportunities for students through faculty development, curriculum development, academic tutoring and mentoring, and other services at through the department.

“Across the nation, more Hispanics are enrolling in college and Hispanics soon will represent nearly one in three American workers,” said Dr. Michael J. Beals, president of Vanguard University. “We’re committed to helping educate these emerging leaders and introducing them to ways they can transform the campus and their communities through their talent, faith and influence.”

Vanguard expects this grant to help more students access post-secondary degrees and credentials, which are key to building a highly skilled workforce. Plus, Vanguard aims to ramp up Diversity & Inclusion Department efforts to educate the entire student community about cultural diversity, racial reconciliation and gender equality issues. Already, Vanguard students like Heidi Lepe and Sylvana Marquina are stepping up to extend this consciousness beyond their campus.

Lepe, class of 2016, is promoting social and economic opportunities for Hispanics. This sociology major and recipient of a National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference scholarships for Latino students aims to help generate equitable opportunities for educational advancement, employment, and distribution of wealth and resources. As an intern at the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County, Lepe provides bilingual resources and educational support to families. She also works for the El Paseo Academic Program, helping dozens of K-12 students achieve maximum academic potential – an experience she intends to build into advocacy for Latinos in school.

Set to graduate in 2017, Marquina is a biology major and Hispanic Student Scholar. She juggles her undergraduate studies with an internship at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, and volunteered previously for John Muir Medical Center, delivering surgery schedules, training dozens of healthcare volunteers and delivering hundreds of lab specimens. At Vanguard, Marquina is learning how to become a healthcare leader who advocates for equitable healthcare access that includes affordable, high-quality, culturally and linguistically appropriate care in a timely manner. She intends to become a pediatrician.

In addition to the U.S. Department of Education funding, the campus Diversity & Inclusion Department also recorded another milestone this year. It was relocated to the newly commissioned Scott Academic Center on Fair Drive, which serves as the inviting “front door” to the university. The three-story education center spans nearly 50,000 square feet and increases classroom capacity by approximately 1,500 students per day.


Former Vanguard catcher and coach trades glove for pen as author of novel

The Orange County Register

By Richard Dunn, contributing columnist, Orange County Register

Former switch-hitting catcher Matt Dahlgren enjoyed a fine collegiate baseball career at NAIA Southern California College – now Vanguard University – and even coached at the private Christian school in Costa Mesa for a year when female pitcher Ila Borders was making headlines.

But no playing or coaching experience could prepare Dahlgren for the mission he later accepted – fulfilling a promise he made to his late grandfather by completing a manuscript.


fantasia 2015

Vanguard University Awards Ralph Carmichael Scholarship at Annual Segerstrom Hall Christmas Concerts

“Christmas Fantasia,” Vanguard University’s annual festival of sacred and popular Christmas music, will be performed December 4 and 8 at two Orange County venues. The concert, presented by Farmers & Merchants Bank, will feature nearly 200 students from the University’s award-winning choirs and instrumental ensembles, and award two students with the prestigious Ralph Carmichael Scholarship Award—named in honor of the legendary Vanguard alum, and composer and arranger for Nat King Cole.

“Our annual Christmas Fantasia concerts have become the perfect opportunity to recognize outstanding students from within our academic and performance programs,” said Dr. James Melton, professor and chair of music at Vanguard University.

The Ralph Carmichael Scholarship Award was established in honor of the famous composer and arrangerwho studied music at Vanguard University – the first four-year college in Orange County. Carmichael graduated and went on to write arrangements for top performers including Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, and Stan Kenton, while serving as musical director for I Love Lucy. The scholarship in Carmichael’s name was awarded to two recipients in 2014, both music and worship studies majors at Vanguard University.

“I was extremely overcome by the generosity of the anonymous donation and gift, which ended up being the exact amount I needed to pay off my upcoming spring semester school bill,” said Christine Correa, one of the students awarded last year, and the first in her family to attend college. Correa was also one of four students to receive the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Award last year.

Each year, students from Vanguard’s reputable department of music bring classic works to life, such as Handel’s Messiah and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite. Performances at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church will featureVanguard’s Concert Choir, Orchestra, Women’s Chorus, Jazz Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, Barbershop Quartets, and the Vanguard Singers and Band.

Christmas Fantasia 2015 schedule:

Friday, December 4, 2014, 8pm
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach

Tuesday, December 8, 2015, 8pm
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall