When I went away to college my freshmen year, I was told I would meet friends that would develop into lifelong friendships. Over my time at Vanguard I have discovered this to be true and I have been so blessed by the friendships I have created. In my blog, Fall Adventures and Lifelong Friendships, I talked about some of the first friends I made at Vanguard and how our friendships have grown.

photoLast week, I got to show one of my friends and teammates my hometown for a couple of days. We went on a hike to a waterfall and spent the day at the river. Having Melissa come to visit made me realize how valuable our friendship is and I was so lucky to get to share with her another piece of my life.

Throughout my life I have experienced many different types of friendships and have realized that people will come and go from your life. There are friends for moments, seasons and lifetimes. While it is perfectly fine to develop different friendships with people throughout different seasons of your life, I have found that the friends who stick by your side throughout every season in your life are the best kinds of friends to have.

As many of you go through the end of your senior year and see one chapter of your life closing, it is very possible that many of your friendships will fade while some will grow even stronger. Most importantly you will develop new friendships as you begin a new chapter in your life in the fall.



Ample Opportunities

Michael Avila

Hi my name is Michael Avila. I’m from Moreno Valley in California and I just finished my sophomore year at Vanguard University as a Psychology major.


What brought me to Vanguard was the exceptional community that was full of genuine and unique people. I saw an opportunity to be a part of a family rather than just being another number among faces. Upon visiting the campus I immediately felt like this was a place where I belonged. I quickly attained a sense of pride in the university I was going to attend.


I have loved growing in my relationship with God and with other people. I have had ample opportunities that I know I would not have received without being at Vanguard. I have been able to experience and perceive different ways of life through the people that God has placed around me and made genuine friendships that I know will follow me through the rest of my life.


Receiving financial aid has helped me by simply allowing me to be able to attend Vanguard University. Without the financial aid that I receive, I would not have the opportunity
to further my education past a high school diploma.

I have been able to increase my learning within not only academics, but the arts as well. Financial aid has also supported me within my musical abilities. I get the chance to make something better of myself that I might one day be able to better serve God and His people. I appreciate the way in which God has used such generous donors to further expand His kingdom and bring Him eternal glory.


After I graduate, I plan to go on to graduate school and earn my degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I find that family is the most important aspect in a person’s life and I have seen what it is like when a family is disconnected. I want marriages to reveal the true love of God that they are meant to reside in. I desire for families to seek God in all areas of life attributing to children so that they can grow to be outstanding adults. I also plan to consistently be involved in my church within the children’s ministry, praying that it continues to grow and helps to teach and raise up children in the ways of the Lord.


Vanguard Singers and BandWithin the past 2 years in my time at Vanguard, I have grown in my relationship with the Lord more than the previous 17 years of my life. I have been able to take the standards that I was blessed to be raised with and adopt them as my own, rather than just being under the wing of my parents. God has taught me to see the diversity that lies within His people as we all come from different denominations, backgrounds, cultures, and societies. He has allowed me to go through hell and back to see the beauty of His majesty that resides all around me. I see God, more than ever, as my healer, savior, shepherd, deliverer, redeemer, strength, and provider. Because of the spiritual emphasis that Vanguard places on not only within chapel and prayer, but through our education as well, I am able to reap the benefits.


I cannot be thankful enough for the participation that I am allowed to have through academics and music here at Vanguard University. This summer, I had the fortunate opportunity to go on a mission’s trip with the Vanguard Singers and Band to Europe for 3 and a half weeks. We went to 8 different countries to share our talents and the love of God to people across the world. We also served in orphanages and took evangelistic opportunities to proclaim and glorify the name of the Lord. It is opportunities like these that I get to be a part of with the generous help of Vanguard University donors.


Click here to read more stories like Michael’s on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.


My Heart’s Passion

Graduation 1


Hi, my name is Vanessa Williams, and I just graduated from Vanguard University with a major in Sociology. I chose Sociology as a major because I have always wanted to work with people in some capacity.


I was undeclared until the middle of my sophomore year but after taking my first Sociology class, I knew Sociology was the degree for me. At the time Professor Charity Perry taught the course and she really inspired me to pursue a career in Sociology.


As a first generation college student and with no knowledge about colleges, I typed “private Christian universities in California” into Google and Vanguard came up! I wanted to go to Christian University that would cultivate and deepen my faith. Vanguard was a place that I received that exact experience. I was able to further my relationship with Christ and truly learn what it meant to have a relationship with God, not just be a churchgoer.


I came to the campus for a tour and absolutely fell in love with Vanguard. I received an amazing scholarship from the university, and everything worked out so seamlessly that I felt it had to be God. I have been so blessed when it came to financial aid at Vanguard and am so extremely thankful for the aid I have received here the past four years.


There is no way I would have been able to attend Vanguard without the financial aid I received.
My family didn’t have the means to support me through college, so without it,
financing my education would have been completely my responsibility.


GroupMy favorite part of my Vanguard experience would have to be the community. Through student leadership, classes, and on-campus jobs, I have made the most solid and important friendships in my life. I don’t know what I would have done at Vanguard without them. The professors here have also been extremely supportive. All of my professors were approachable and warm. Vanguard professors want to be a part of empowering you and seeing you pursue you dreams and that is such a blessing.


Graduating from Vanguard, and walking across the stage as a first generation college student was a surreal experience. I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be the first person in my immediate family to successfully complete my degree. It felt so good! I have a huge family and I had 13 family members cheering me on that day. I love that I have been able to be an example for my family, especially my nieces. My parents are now back in school and both my older sisters talk about how I have encouraged them to continue to pursue their dreams and go back to school.


I wanted to work for a non-profit organization that specializes in families and children because a person’s family is the most crucial and life-altering relationship that he or she will ever have. Sadly, some kids don’t have the most positive experience of what family means, leaving emotional (and sometimes physical) scars that are carried into their everyday lives. My heart’s passion is to see strong families developed for children who may not have been born into the “typical” experience.


And now, I have that job! I just started working at Olive Crest, which is a non-profit in Orange County that supports foster kids. Their motto is “Strong Families, Safe Kids” I will be working in their Kinship program, which is a program that supports relative caregSoloFINALivers (i.e. a grandparent raising their adult child’s, children).


I am so very excited to take this next step in my career and to be completely honest, I heard about this agency through a Vanguard professor. When another staff member found out my interest in the organization, he connected me to a staff person there. We got coffee, and before my interview, she put in a good word for me. It’s just crazy that even outside of your graduating class, there is a Vanguard family in the workforce willing to support you and connect you to the right people. Isn’t God amazing?


Vanguard has had an immense impact on my spiritual formation —

  • I have learned different ways to worship and encounter God and I truly believe that I have found my faith in a different way during my time here.
  • I grew in learning to experience God in being quiet and understanding what a relationship with Jesus looks like.
  • I have also had the ability to strengthen my foundation and my faith at its core through chapels, mentorship, and Bible classes.
  • I feel like Vanguard helped me to see my faith in a different way, and in turn I can now carry that with me forever.

… And I hope that I can encourage others to do the same!


Click here to read more stories like Vanessa’s on our BECAUSE OF YOU blog.