Challenge Coin Ceremony

IG.VetsCoinThe history of the challenge coin goes back all the way to World War I when a lieutenant ordered bronze coins for his platoon. In a brutal battle with the Germans, one man decided to keep his coin in a leather pouch around his neck when he was captured. Unfortunately, they decided to take everything from the man except his leather pouch. After he escaped, the French found him and they realized the insignia of the unit on the coin. This is why today service members as a tradition carry Challenge Coins.

The Challenge Coin Ceremony is a very touching moment. When I was in the service, I was fortunate enough to receive some challenge coins. All of them are different because they are personal to that specific individual or the unit.

At Vanguard University, they invite the local Veterans community to come on-campus for a Challenge Coin Ceremony to recognize our graduating Veterans. This is one of my favorite things about VU because it really shows they honor Veterans along with their spouses and dependents.

It was a blessing to also have Pastor Frank Orzio (a two time Purple Heart Recipient, Vietnam Marine veteran, and founder of Wounded Warrior Ministries) and Jim Torres (commander of the Veterans Department of California) speak as a part of the program.

The student speaker was Chris Merkle, who shared his testimony and experience in the Marines and transitioning into civilian life. He shared about working as a policeman and yet still wanting to help his fellow veterans who struggled with PTSD. That led him to enroll in Vanguard University so that he can receive his BA in Psychology and eventually pursuing his Master’s and Doctorate.

I personally do not believe I would have been able to get this far in school without this support of Veterans. As a Junior, I still have one more year left, but I have gone to this Challenge Coin ceremony every year since I’ve been here. It’s an awesome time to congratulate Veterans who are moving to that next step in life.

It’s never a farewell to any of these soldiers; they are forever friendships to me.


Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter



The Addams Family Musical

Addams.castMy very first experience ever at a musical was the Lion King at the Pantages Theater in LA. This was one of the most special times of my life because it was also the first date for my wife and me. The musical was amazing, but in reality and in all honesty — The Adams Family musical at Vanguard University’s Lyceum Theater was just as amazing!

Seeing this show at my school reminded me of that first date. I admit, that I was never really interested in musicals before, but now they have become one of my favorite things to do. The cast and crew of The Addams Family were absolutely hilarious! With the exception of one child actor, everyone involved were current VU students. Our favorite character was the patriarch of the family: Gomez Addams. We were impressed to find out that Gomez was played by Andreas Schmidt, who is a freshman studying Theatre as his major. It was one of the biggest roles of the show, and he did an incredible job.

Tickets for Lyceum Theater shows are only $17, and it is well worth it. There are even discounts for kids, senior citizens, and groups.

I think our Theatre Department is outstanding. I will definitely go to more shows at our on-campus Lyceum Theater during the school year and summer.

Even if you don’t like musicals, I recommend that you give it a chance. If you have not already been to a show at Vanguard University, take a date/friend, and go have some fun!

Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter


Junior Senior Banquet

JSBOn Friday, April 22, Vanguard University Student Government Association hosted their annual Junior and Senior Banquet at the Long Beach Aquarium.

My wife continues to tell me that I spend more time at school than with her, so going to this event brought us together. I have to say it was a great reason to get out and spend some quality time with the love of my life. My wife said it reminded her of being at Prom, but this time she was able to be my date with me!

It was a great time for the both of us to get dressed up and enjoy some dinner and dancing. The menu included a buffet of – steak, chicken fettuccini, grilled chicken, and salad. Dessert was brownies, cookies and cupcakes. After we feasted on all that food, we danced the night away.

The DJ played a variety of music of rap, hip-hop, and salsa music. At midnight, the dance ended, and we were exhausted. I cannot wait for the next year’s JSB because I will definitely be there.

I recommend this to any VU college Junior and Senior to go to this event. You are only in college for a short time, and this is a memorable experience! Even if you a Veteran who commutes to campus, is married, and may be older than most undergraduate students, I assure you – You will fit right in.

Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter


Veterans Resource Center

VetsCenterWhether you are a Vanguard University Undergrad, School for Professional Studies, or Graduate Veterans student, the Veteran Resource Center is a great place to hangout, network, or do homework.

Before the newly renovated Scott Academic Center, the VRC was extremely small. Now, we have 12 computer workstations and more space to study and hangout. The center has two main rooms that include a soundproof study area and a lounge with coffee, couches, and a TV. You can have the best of both worlds: peace and quiet or laughter and conversation.

The VRC is a great place to get to know all our Veterans here on-campus. Brian Burlingame is our Veteran Coordinator and is a retired Master Gunnery Sergeant with 30yrs of service. It’s not every day do you get to have the opportunity to meet and learn from a prior Marine. He really does have so much wisdom that he shares with us!

We have such an amazing community of veterans who come from all different backgrounds and branches of service here at VU. For me, it is truly a blessing to be part of a community like this — When you are transitioning from the service to civilian life or transferring from another college, we really need each other. No one can go far on their own, so the VRC helps students connect with each other.

Definitely take the time to stop in the Veterans Center and introduce yourself. We would love to get to know you and hear your story. And if there is anything you need, we would love to help!

Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter


Morning VU

IG_MorningVUOn Saturday, April 16, I attended Morning VU, a Vanguard University Admissions event for high school and transfer students.

As a student veteran, it reminded me of when I first had the opportunity to visit the campus as well — I remember walking into the courtyard and meeting current students that were very welcoming. I felt I have already known them. This year, I had an even better experience because of the newly renovated Scott Academic Center.

During the Admissions presentation, I appreciated everything that was said about VU. Our class size is about 17:1 with students and Faculty. You have the competitive advantage as a student because smaller classes encourage you to get to know your peers and professors.

The majority of Vanguard’s Faculty also have doctorate degrees. Some have worked for Fortune 500 companies, like Oakley and Mattel. Professors are approachable enough that you can email them anytime or meet them for coffee to get to know them more. You never know what kind of life lessons you can learn as you prepare to graduate.

If you’re Veteran looking to pursue a Bachelor’s/Master’s degree, I would highly recommend visiting the Vanguard University campus! It’s a great college to attend. Schedule a campus tour here: www.vanguard.edu/undergraduate/visit-the-campus

Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter


Class of 2016 Veteran Graduates

2016VetGradsWe recently hosted a special Challenge Coin Ceremony for our graduating Veterans! We are so proud of our Class of 2016 students -


Justin Blankenship, Army

Robert Bruno, Coast Guard

Bryan Castaneda, Army

Cirilo Castaneda, Navy

Starr Ellington, Air Force

2016VetChrisEduardo Gomez, Army

Shin Kim, Army

Christopher Merkle, Marines
(Challenge Coin student speaker)

Caleb Moering, Army

Daniel Page, Navy

Marcus Soza, Marines


Commencement ceremonies will take place on Friday, May 6
at 10am (Traditional Undergraduates) and 4pm (Graduate Professional Studies).

Join us in celebrating our graduates by watching both Commencement ceremonies ONLINE at www.vanguard.edu/live. Use #VUGRAD #vuVeterans in your Tweets/Instagram posts too!



May 2016 – Local Events

Even though our school year concludes with Commencement on May 6, there are quite a few Orange County events that we plan to participate in this month. May also includes 2 important holidays – Armed Forces Day (Saturday, May 21) and Memorial Day (Monday, May 30). Please join us!




  • May 20-23, 2016 | Armed Forces Day
    Castaways Park with The Exchange Club of Newport Harbor


  • May 26, 2016 | Veteran Appreciation Dinner
    5:30pm Reception, 6:30pm Dinner at UC Irvine



Veterans Chapel

VetsChapel.groupOn April 6, 2016, the Vanguard University Veterans Center hosted their annual Veterans Chapel event!

It was great to hear from student speaker Justin Blankenship on how he grew up, joined the Army, and enrolled in the Kinesiology program at Vanguard University. Every person has a unique story, and it’s something that you cannot take away from someone. This is why I personally love Vanguard University’s motto “Your Story Matters” because it truly does matter.

The Veterans Chapel is also a great place to network and meet other Veterans who are students, Faculty/Staff, and alumni here at Vanguard University.

Special thanks to Captain Thomas Gorla, Colonel David Fey and Scott Williams — members of the Freedom Committee of Orange County — for coming out to support our Vanguard Veterans.

I want to especially thank Brian Burlingame (VU Veterans Resource Coordinator), the Veterans club, and the Vanguard community for providing refreshments, special music, and decorations for the event. Without any of these people, these Veteran events would not happen.

Everyone is welcome to come to our Vanguard University Veterans events! Whether you’re a Veteran yourself or just want to show your support, we invite you to join us.

Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter



Introducing: Jordyn Salter

Jordyn.friendHi, my name is Jordyn Salter! I am from Phoenix, Arizona and currently a Junior at Vanguard University. My major is Business Marketing, and I will graduate Spring 2017.

On March 23, 2009 I joined the Marine Corps as a 0621 Field Radio Operator. After completing boot camp, Marine Combat Training, and The Field Radio Operators course, I was sent to my first duty station in Camp Pendleton, CA serving with 1st Marines HQ/CO Communications Platoon. In 2010-2011, I was deployed to Afghanistan in Helmed Providence as the Regimental Air Officers radio operator. After my deployment, I set a goal to use my GI Bill benefits to play college baseball. I was honorably discharged in 2013.

Transitioning from the military back to being a civilian was very challenging. I knew there was much more to life that was bigger than myself. On January 29, 2013, I decided to make Jesus my Lord and Savior and was baptized. I started my first semester of school at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, CA. I played baseball for Golden West that summer and fall, but after some additional cuts, they decided to let me go. It was heartbreaking to be cut, but the Lord knew what I had needed… because that’s when I heard about Vanguard University.

Thomas Tatchi, a friend from my church Christ Church of Orange County, suggested that I check out his college in Costa Mesa, which was 10 minutes from where I lived. He offered to introduce me to Coach Rob Pegg and Jordan Moak of the Vanguard University Baseball team. They immediately made me feel welcome and invited me to a team practice. As I continued to sharpen my athletic skills and play baseball, I unfortunately got injured with a pulled hamstring and fractured foot. My heart and soul wanted to play, but I felt my body struggling to recover. I decided to hang up my cleats and focus on pursuing a degree in Business Marketing.

What I appreciate about being a student at Vanguard University is how welcoming and accommodating everyone is. The Veterans Center has made transitioning back into civilian life much easier. All the faculty and staff care and show love to the students.


Vanguard University to me is not a place to just go to school.
Vanguard is my home because it truly embodies COMMUNITY on-campus.


My plans after I graduate are to get my Real Estate license and pursue a Master’s in Finance. I hope to help other service members with their finances and fulfill their dreams of buying a home. My long-term goal would be to develop apartment complexes that service member families can rent at a low cost as they transition back into civilian life.

Through all of my own challenges, I want to continue to give back and help my fellow Veterans! Thanks for reading my story.

Semper Fidelis,
Jordyn Salter


2016 Veterans Chapel

Justin.AwardCome join us for this annual Vanguard University Veterans Center tradition -

Wednesday, April 6
8pm | Needham Chapel

Speaker – Justin Blankenship: Vanguard University Department of Kinesiology major, Army Veteran, and VU Veterans Social Media

… Come to the Needham Chapel courtyard at 7:30pm for a time of fellowship. Veterans, you are welcome to wear your Military uniforms too!

**Chapel credit will be offered.**

Brian Burlingame
Vanguard University Veterans Center
(714) 966-5447 | brian.burlingame@vanguard.edu

Event hashtags – #vuVeterans #vuChapel