This is Tara Sirvent. She is currently the Associate Dean of Natural, Physical and Health Sciences as well as the Director of Grants, Research and Sponsored Programs. She has been at Vanguard for almost 14 years.
When entering Tara's office, visitors will see green plants sitting by the window and her framed graduate school diplomas hanging on the wall. Her maiden name, before getting married, was Thisen, which stems from her Father's german descent while her mom was Irish and Native - American from the Apache and Comanche area. Her parents met at a military base in Minnesota when they were both serving in the Navy, they were both seamen, a junior enlisted ranking. Unfortunately, her mom, Shonna Lee Evans, passed away when Tara was ten years old although her family continued to reside in the countryside outside of Casper, Wyoming, which is the second-largest city behind Cheyenne. Andrew, Tara’s Dad, tried his best to raise his children as a single father but would later struggle with alcoholism.
Tara was not originally into the sciences growing up and remembers herself as an introvert compared to the rest of her surrounding classmates in Evansville Elementary School. During this time, the school secretary, Dianna invited Tara to a summer camp, called Camp Beard, where Dianna’s daughter and Tara would attend before entering Centennial Junior High School. It was there, Tara would come to faith and become a Christian. Until this day, Tara remains very close to Dianna, her daughter, and her family. She looks back on her childhood, “ I am so thankful to God that He always provides and restores in ways that people need,” Tara continues to describe her upbringing, “ They (Dianna’s family) almost became like a surrogate family to me and I am so thankful for them and I consider them family today.” Tara would later be baptized at the First Assemblies of God Church in Casper with the support of Dianna and her family.
Upon completing junior high school, Tara attended Kelly Walsh High school, where she joined the debate team and watched American classics like Anne of Green Gables. She described her high school years as a time where did not consider the sciences as a career worthy path and enjoyed other subjects like history which she says stemmed from her parent's veteran influence. Tara did well academically during high school and was involved in extracurriculars like music where she learned to play the cello.
When applying to colleges, Tara was offered a full-ride scholarship to the University of Wyoming, otherwise known as, "UDUB" in the Rockies, not to be confused with the Pacific Northwest college, University of Washington. After reviewing the great offer, Tara decided that she wanted to grow in her knowledge of the Lord and pursue an undergraduate education that intertwined academics with Biblical faith. She got accepted into Southern California College now known as Vanguard University where she graduated with a double major in Biology and Chemistry in 1996. Tara recalls her time here saying, " There were some difficult times, in the beginning, learning to deal with my roommate but I made very good lifelong friends who I still keep in touch with," she continues, " I was very close to my professors who would later encourage me to pursue graduate school." Tara took their advice and studied plant pathology in private Ivy League Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York. She chose to study plants because she was fascinated by how plants succumb to disease and how botany parallels Biblical theology with seasons of fruitfulness.
During her time in Ithaca, Tara joined another Assembly of God church, that she would be actively involved in. Tara describes her time at Cornell as vastly different than her undergraduate education and how she remembers longing for a church community where she would meet her now-husband, Daniel, who was involved with the inner-city ministry and also was a youth pastor when they first met. Daniel and Tara would date less than a year before getting married in Ithaca.
After a couple of years of marriage, Daniel went to school to complete his undergraduate at Cornell while Tara completed her research-based post-doctorate program at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research that focused on a study for chestnut trees. In October of 2002, Tara gave birth to her first child, Gabriel Michael, and Daniel and she would both look for new job opportunities. God eventually lead Tara to Pensacola where she was a Professor of Biochemistry at the University of West Florida from 2003 - 2006. While there, she had her second daughter, Jasmine.
After three years in Florida, Tara received a call from Dr. Miller from Vanguard University, encouraging her to apply for an open position as a professor on campus. Tara accepted the position and her family of four at the time moved back to Costa Mesa. Meanwhile, Daniel maximized this time and got an MBA from Chapman University who would later work in corporate finance. Unfortunately, Tara's dad, Andrew, was extremely ill during this period and Tara had to fly back and forth to Minnesota to take care of him. After a few months, Andrew sadly passed, but Tara and Daniel saw this opportunity to try for another baby. God blessed them with a baby boy named, Jericho and shortly after had their fourth baby, a girl, named Khalila.
Today, Tara and her family, enjoy camping and going to the movies. They recently watched pearl harbor action movie Midway.
Vanguard University is so thankful for Tara and the great work she contributes to the STEM department.
- university news