This is Elizabeth Powell. Visitors will see her minimalist decor including a standing desk, travel pictures and a small meeting table that has a window view of the VU100 letters.
She begins to reflect, "I grew up here so I'm very familiar with the surrounding area and people. I love talking to people and fell in love with all the diversity in my community." The Powell family are natives to Costa Mesa and Elizabeth spent her childhood and young adulthood attending the local schools here. Her family lived in a housing community by the Monticello Apartments behind Vanguard's soccer field because her dad, Randy, used to work as Campus Pastor here for 29 years while her mom, Cass which is short for Catherine, was a professional opera singer and retired as a public school teacher. She remembers afternoons on campus running around and roller skating with her younger brother Zach, who, is a math teacher at Port of Los Angeles High School up north in San Pedro.
She spent her time in youth group at Newport Mesa Church. Elizabeth remembers her upbringing in Costa Mesa, "I think growing up here was great because it was this small community where everything was only a few blocks apart. It gave me a lot of exposure to different kinds of friends and culture, which is continuing to grow." Elizabeth recalls having a fascination for people in the fourth grade and knew from there that she wanted to pursue a degree in Psychology. She jokes that the Powell family is made up of all teachers, psychologists or people in ministry so it was only natural for her.
Elizabeth went to Costa Mesa High School, which houses 7th to 12th graders where Elizabeth's passion changed from the arts to athletics. There, she was a four-year varsity starter for the women's soccer team and also a team captain for three years. She played midfield and was also part of a club team when she was not in season. After graduating high school, Elizabeth applied to UCLA, UCSD and Vanguard. She was accepted into all three colleges but decided to go to Vanguard in 1999 because she wanted to be part of the community she loved and also got a small break in tuition due to her dad's position at the time. Elizabeth looks back on her undergraduate experience, "Surprisingly, I did not change my major at all in college. I came in with Psychology and stuck with it. " The following year, Elizabeth would go onto pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Azusa Pacific University for seven years.
Elizabeth wrote her dissertation on Christian faith development in college originally hoping to work in a clinical setting as opposed to teaching. She smiles remembering her time in grad school, "I did my practicum at Sherman Indian High School in Riverside which was federally funded and had a big native American population.Then, I worked as a therapist at Cloud and Fire Charter High School in Los Angeles which had a lot of gangs and ex-gang students that was very eye-opening." Elizabeth looks back on her faith, education and experience encouraging others to embrace diversity. She talks about the importance of grace when learning about different cultures. For Elizabeth, it's always been about hearing people's stories.
After completing her doctorate, Elizabeth worked as a therapist in Pomona briefly and one day received a call from the chair of the department at the time who asked Elizabeth to come back as a part-time professor for the Spring 2012 semester and later became full-time the following semester.
When Elizabeth is not teaching at Vanguard she spends her time serving her Santa Ana-based church, Newsong. She enjoys traveling during her summers to places like Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada that is located in part of the Rocky Mountains. Elizabeth currently resides in Costa Mesa with her two dogs.
Vanguard is so thankful for Elizabeth and the mentorship she brings to the Psychology department.
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