Black Student Union and Live2Free to Celebrate Black History Month with Special Speaker Kenneth B. Morris, Jr.

kbm_media1-880x1024Join Vanguard University’s Black Student Union (BSU) and Live2Free clubs as they celebrate Black History Month on Monday, February 9, at 10 a.m. in Heath 109.

In honor of Black History Month, BSU and Live2Free clubs will host an event featuring the founder and president of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI) organization, Kenneth B. Morris, Jr. The event will offer students the opportunity to learn more about black history, specifically dealing with slavery in America, and the fight to end human trafficking today from a descendant of two of the most influential and important Americans in history.

Being the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass and the great-great grandson of Booker T. Washington, Morris comes from a strong lineage of history-shapers. Both of these men played key roles in the civil rights movement from abolishing slavery to acquiring racial equality, and their impact led to Morris’s creation of FDFI. FDFI is an abolitionist organization that brings education about preventing human trafficking with the mission “To Advance Freedom through Knowledge and Strategic Action.”

According to the Frederick Douglas Family Initiatives website, Douglass was a “brilliant speaker” who helped to lead the abolitionist movement to end slavery in the U.S. “Douglass provided a powerful voice for human rights during this period of American history and is still revered today for his contributions against racial injustice,” the website states. For Washington, the website states: “A man who overcame near-impossible odds himself, Booker T. Washington is best remembered for helping black Americans rise up from the economic slavery that held them down long after they were legally free citizens.”

To learn more about Morris and FDFI, click here.


Christmas Cheer Rings Clear at Annual Christmas Fantasia

rsz_1202142000With violins strumming, bells ringing and voices rejoicing, the beauty and wonder of Christmas filled the air at Vanguard University’s 2014 Christmas Fantasia concerts, presented by Meguiar’s.

Bringing in the Christmas season, Vanguard’s concert choir, women’s choir, concert orchestra and jazz band performed for the annual holiday celebration. The concert was staged at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts on December 2 and at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on December 5. Both venues gleamed with Christmas décor.

As they say in the movie Elf, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” With instruments and voices singing, Vanguard’s choirs, orchestra and jazz band decked the halls of both venues with Christmas cheer. Students, professors, staff, families and people from around the community gathered for the concerts.

At the Segerstrom performance, each note rang through the giant hall as the singers harmonized and the instruments played. After an opening song, the performers and attendees stood and sang traditional carols together. From there, the choirs, orchestra and jazz band took turns performing separately and together.

For information about Fantasia, visit www.vanguard.edu/fantasia.




Dance Battles, Acoustic Love Songs and Swooning Ladies Mean One Thing at Vanguard University: Woofest

Woofest 2014With a theme resembling The Bachelorette, the men of Huntington Hall battled with dance and song to capture the hearts of the women of Vanguard University on Nov. 20 at the annual Woofest.

Dressed to the nines, as they say these days, Vanguard’s women strutted their heels over to Newport Mesa Church around 9 p.m. for a night of wooing. Greeted by a fountain, photo shoot and red carpet, the night was set for romance. As the men continued to escort ladies to their seats, every chair filled. By 9:30 p.m., the event’s scheduled start time, it was standing room only.

First up, second floor resident assistant (RA) Jonathan Schalembier’s floor took the stage. Dressed in black slacks, button-up shirts and red suspenders, they were ready to woo. In the weeks leading to this moment, the men of second floor put in hours of dance practice and vocals work. “It was pretty intense,” Schalembier said, “You want to put out something you can be proud of and that takes a lot of work.”

Looking back on the show, Schalembier said he was “really happy with the final result.” Most importantly, Schalembier wanted to give credit to the life-saving help he received in choreographing his floor’s dance. He wanted to thank theater students, Austin Nunn and Winter Bassett, for their amazing choreography work. Putting on Woofest is a “really big team effort,” Schalembier said. “It’s way more fun when you have people who are willing to help and support,” he added.

Watch second floor’s performance, by clicking here. Learn more about Vanguard’s Student Life and other events, by clicking here.


Women Gather to Watch “Miss Representation” Documentary

MissRepStoryWinner-712x310Female students filled Newport Mesa Church on Nov. 6 for an all girls movie night; however, unlike the setup would suggest, this was no romantic comedy.

Filing in for the 8:30 p.m. show time, women took their seats as the documentary “Miss Representation” prepared to start. Tackling the pervasive world of media and its inaccurate depiction of women, “Miss Representation” shows audiences the common theme that underlies all of the media’s interactions with women: disrespect. Reels and reels of advertisements, reality shows, movies, news clips, magazines and multiple other forms of media flash across the screen with images and sound bites of women being misrepresented and disrespected.

Lifting the veil, “Miss Representation” removes the media’s façade of equality and normalcy to reveal their over-sexualized, untrue image of women. The film points out the many issues that arise as young girls, and boys, continue to be fed this very inaccurate view of women. After attending the screening, junior Jackie Kong said she appreciated that “it wasn’t afraid to show what media is really like.”

After the documentary ended, Kong and others went to The Bridge for snacks and a small discussion. Looking back on the discussion time, Kong said: “I hope all these girls didn’t keep the discussion to themselves.” She said she was glad that the film opened up the conversation and she would like to see the men of Vanguard being educated on the issue as well. It’s important that “we don’t allow the over-sexualization or the media to control us,” Kong said. As a psychology major and women’s studies minor, Kong said: “This issue is something that I’ve been passionate about for such a long time.”

In a final note, Kong said that anyone interested in learning more about that topic and others like it should check out the women’s studies minor. To learn more about Vanguard’s women’s studies minor, click here. To learn more about “Miss Representation,” watch it here.

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“Nomads” Visit to Share Message of Hope for North Korea

Event_POSTERS-5[3]On Nov. 19 at 7 p.m., “Nomads” from the organization Liberty in North Korea will speak about their work rescuing and resettling refugees from North Korea.

Held in Vanguard University’s Needham Chapel, the chapel-accredited, dinner event will offer an opportunity for students to learn about Liberty in North Korea’s mission and how they can get involved. The chapel will feature some of the organization’s interns, “Nomads”, sharing stories and showing videos of North Korean college students who have been successfully resettled. The “Nomads” will also share about ways that students can take part in the mission.

Helping North Korean refugees reach freedom and thrive in their resettlement is Liberty in North Korea’s mission. Their “Nomads” visit schools and chapels throughout America and Canada to spread awareness about the issue and the opportunity people have to play a part in combatting it.

Having previously worked for Liberty in North Korea, Susie DiLauria, one of Vanguard’s marketing and communications specialists, provided the connection for Liberty in North Korea to have an event at Vanguard. DiLauria spent a semester working as one of the organization’s “Nomads” and then went on to work as a full-time staff member for a year and a half. Hosting the event, with the help of Vanguard’s Asian Pacific Islander Club and VU Rise Club, DiLauria said that the issue of rescuing, resettling and empowering people of North Korea is something she is very passionate about.

When discussing the importance of the organization and its crucial work in North Korea, DiLauria said: “I think North Korea is an issue that is widely misunderstood.” Most of the conversations do not adequately address the reality of the oppression that the people of North Korea are experiencing, she said. The members of Liberty in North Korea do a great job of unmasking the reality of the issue and the part Americans can play in bringing freedom and empowerment to North Korean refugees, she said.

Looking forward to the event, DiLauria said she is excited to see it “put a face to North Korea, the face of a college student, a face that is relatable.” Whether it inspires students to join in the efforts of Liberty in North Korea or in another world-bettering organization, DiLauria said she hopes that it “helps VU students broaden their worldview.”

To learn more about Liberty in North Korea, click here.


Christena Cleveland Shared Stirring Message on Unity and Diversity at Late Night

ChristenaClevelandA voice for unity and reconciliation, special speaker Christena Cleveland spoke at Vanguard University in a Thursday morning chapel and at the second Late Night event of the year on Nov. 6.

Speaking on the many underlying issues that lead to disunity, Cleveland mentioned three specifically: low self-esteem, the “us vs. them” mentality, and the general belief of people that their “other” does not want to know or be around them. She used experience and research to dissect each issue. She shared how these issues encourage people to separate further rather than come together.

Touching on low self-esteem and its hand in causing disunity, Cleveland described the classic bully mentality: put them down to put me up. She described a research study that found that when people with low self-esteem degrade another person, it boosts their personal self-esteem. So, when people experience low self-esteem, they are more likely to act prejudicial and unkind to someone different than them.

When addressing how to combat these issues of inequality, Cleveland said: “Make their story matter to you.” She described a relationship she shares with one of her neighbors who comes from a very different life situation than her and how she learns so much during her times with that neighbor. She said that it is crucial that we learn from those who are different than us to gain a more full, diverse perspective on life. We have to love our neighbor as Jesus did, she said.

To learn more about Christena Cleveland, read her bio by clicking here.


Vanguard University Veterans Honored and Celebrated at Veterans Day Event

rsz_img_9909On Nov. 6, Vanguard University hosted the annual Veterans Day Event to honor veterans and celebrate the Vanguard Veterans Center.

Held in the Veterans Courtyard of Honor, the event hosted more than 100 attendees, which included veterans from Vanguard and the community, students, alumni, faculty, staff and other community members. After the presentation of the colors by the Total Force Blue Eagles Honor Guard, the national anthem and the invocation, Master of Ceremonies Ed Arnold, a Marine veteran, opened the ceremony. Following Arnold’s opening remarks, Vanguard University President Michael J. Beals, PhD, welcomed attendees.

For the first speech, former veterans resource coordinator Brent Theobald ’11 shared some of his story as a member of the US Marine Corps. Theobald also presented a community volunteer award to Allen Klorsz_img_0125sowski for his generosity in donating time, finances and support to Vanguard’s Veterans Center.

After Theobald, the veterans resource coordinator, Brian Burlingame, spoke about the history of Veterans Day, his gratitude for the service of all those present and the future of Vanguard’s Veterans Center. “We are here to honor our brave men and women who have proudly served this great nation, for they are the fabric from which our flag has been woven,” Burlingame said in his speech.

Reflecting on Vanguard’s event and Veterans Day in general, Burlingame said: “There should never be a time when we don’t honor veterans, including their families.” As a retired veteran with 30 years of service in the Marine Corps, Burlingame knows the life of a veteran. As the new veterans resource coordinator, Burlingame said: “I think there’s significant opportunity to continue the hard work of those who came before me.”

rsz_img_0005Looking to the future, Burlingame said he, along with the rest of the members of the Veterans Center, have many goals for the future of Vanguard’s wants to continue deepening their connection with the community. In his speech, he said: “When I think of success for our student Veterans, I want them to have the same pride and camaraderie here at Vanguard that was displayed by them in their years of service.”

To learn more about Vanguard’s Veterans Center, click here.


Ancient Myths Danced Across Vanguard University’s Lyceum Stage in Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses_FINALFor the final two weekends in October and the first weekend in November, Vanguard University’s Lyceum Theatre morphed into an ancient mythical world of enchantment and tragedy as “Metamorphoses” took the stage.

Combining multiple Greek myths, “Metamorphoses” surveys an array of love stories and tragedies from ancient mythology. The play opens and closes with the story of King Midas, his golden touch and the consequences of his greed. The many stories in between tackle challenging myths of true love lost, the consequences of disobedience and the recklessness of the gods.

Transforming the Lyceum stage physically and metaphorically, “Metamorphoses” used a unique and artistic set design as the setting for each story.  Physically, the theater production team created a set unlike any the Lyceum stage had seen before. They built rock walls, inserted aerial silk and, for the first time in Vanguard history, constructed a pool into the stage.

On Halloween, “Metamorphoses” hosted a free performance for students to attend. One attendee, junior music major Robbie McIntire, said the play surpassed any expectations he had. He praised the actors’ abilities to represent so many different Greek gods and characters. “There was elegance. There was beauty, but there was also ugliness and rigidness,” McIntire said as he described the actors’ portrayals of good and evil. McIntire ended his remarks saying: “Our theater department kicks butt.”

To learn more about Vanguard’s theater department and upcoming productions, click here.


Balport Haunted the Halls at the Annual Harvest Party

HarvestPart14-1This year’s annual Harvest Party came with a spooky, new addition: Balport’s Haunted House.

On October 30, Vanguard University’s Student Government Association (SGA) hosted the annual Harvest Party on the lawn between Newport Hall and the gym. With a carnival theme, the party featured games, food, a bounce house and for the first time, a haunted house.

Starting at 9:30 p.m., after the men’s basketball team won their first non-conference home game, the Harvest Party invited students to jump into multiple activities. Through the night, music played by the popcorn and cotton candy snack shack while students mingled, played games and took pictures. Carnival booths lined the outside wall of the gym featuring various games, including a basketball-shooting contest and a Ping-Pong ball toss to win a fish and the chance at a gift card. Along with the games and food, the night ended with students gathered around the outside of Balboa Hall to watch a huge pumpkin drop.

Throughout the evening, most party attendees, at one point or another, took a break from the games and joined the long line of students awaiting their chance to take the elevator up and into Balport’s Haunted House. In conjunction with the carnival theme, the haunted house took visitors through scenes of a scary story where masked figures jumped and crawled. From the first elevator ride with the tall lurking attendant to the room of mirrors with frightening faces, the house kept everyone on their toes.

Directed by the Balport resident assistants (RAs), the haunted house filled most of Newport Hall’s lounge areas. RAs and student volunteers made up the team of haunted house characters. Their efforts made for a night of laughter and screams as friends journeyed through haunted halls.

To learn more about SGA and Residence Life, visit the Student Life page by clicking here.


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.