Vanguard University’s efforts to celebrate racial and ethnic differences in community life are accelerating, thanks to an infusion of funding from the U.S. Department of Education. As part of a more than $51 million federal grant for 96 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Vanguard has received a five-year $2.57 million grant to strengthen and expand educational opportunities for Hispanic and low-income students through its Diversity & Inclusion Department. Vanguard is the only four-year, Orange County-based institution and one of only two Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) institutions to receive funding.
Vanguard opened its Diversity & Inclusion Department in 2009 to encourage students to explore cultural diversity, racial reconciliation and gender equality issues. As a federally designated HSI – an institution of higher education with at least 25 percent Hispanic full-time equivalent undergraduate enrollment – Vanguard is recognized for making college more attainable for Hispanic students. This grant will allow the private, Christian university of liberal arts and professional studies to further educational opportunities for students through faculty development, curriculum development, academic tutoring and mentoring, and other services at through the department.
“Across the nation, more Hispanics are enrolling in college and Hispanics soon will represent nearly one in three American workers,” said Dr. Michael J. Beals, president of Vanguard University. “We’re committed to helping educate these emerging leaders and introducing them to ways they can transform the campus and their communities through their talent, faith and influence.”
Vanguard expects this grant to help more students access post-secondary degrees and credentials, which are key to building a highly skilled workforce. Plus, Vanguard aims to ramp up Diversity & Inclusion Department efforts to educate the entire student community about cultural diversity, racial reconciliation and gender equality issues. Already, Vanguard students like Heidi Lepe and Sylvana Marquina are stepping up to extend this consciousness beyond their campus.
Lepe, class of 2016, is promoting social and economic opportunities for Hispanics. This sociology major and recipient of a National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference scholarships for Latino students aims to help generate equitable opportunities for educational advancement, employment, and distribution of wealth and resources. As an intern at the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County, Lepe provides bilingual resources and educational support to families. She also works for the El Paseo Academic Program, helping dozens of K-12 students achieve maximum academic potential – an experience she intends to build into advocacy for Latinos in school.
Set to graduate in 2017, Marquina is a biology major and Hispanic Student Scholar. She juggles her undergraduate studies with an internship at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, and volunteered previously for John Muir Medical Center, delivering surgery schedules, training dozens of healthcare volunteers and delivering hundreds of lab specimens. At Vanguard, Marquina is learning how to become a healthcare leader who advocates for equitable healthcare access that includes affordable, high-quality, culturally and linguistically appropriate care in a timely manner. She intends to become a pediatrician.
In addition to the U.S. Department of Education funding, the campus Diversity & Inclusion Department also recorded another milestone this year. It was relocated to the newly commissioned Scott Academic Center on Fair Drive, which serves as the inviting “front door” to the university. The three-story education center spans nearly 50,000 square feet and increases classroom capacity by approximately 1,500 students per day.