DAILY PILOT OPINION: President Michael J. Beals

Commentary: Do your part to mentor millennials for the workforce

by Michael J. Beals

I have a new year’s challenge for Orange County employers and leaders: Make 2017 the year we stop reinforcing the caricature of millennials as an unmotivated, over-sensitive generation requiring participation trophies.

Instead, let’s mentor them so they can achieve their potential.



Dr. Mary Wickman, Director of Nursing at Vanguard University, Sworn in as President of Association of California Nurse Leaders

The Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL) held their annual conference in Anaheim, California on February 5-8, where Dr. Mary Wickman was sworn in as president. Dr. Wickman serves as director of nursing at Vanguard University, leading the program for future health care workers.

Dr. Wickman has been actively involved in ACNL since 2006, and has been a committee member of the Member Experience Committee since 2012, and served as the past board representative and chapter liaison in a two year term.

The prestigious ACNL influences health policy, advances professional practice, and provides networking and progressive leadership development programs in order to influence the future of health care.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to work with nurse leaders throughout the state of California, advancing nursing professional practice, influencing health policy, and promoting quality health care in our rapidly changing health care system,” said Dr. Wickman.

Dr. Wickman served for 21 years in the Navy Reserve Nurse Corps and is a retired Captain. She has an extensive background in nursing education, both administratively and as a faculty member, with research expertise in nursing education, adolescent risk behaviors, substance abuse treatment, and managed care.

Dr. Wickman currently serves as director of nursing and professor of nursing at Vanguard University.


Vanguard University mourns the loss of Dr. Sherilyn Rae Benvenuti

Vanguard University mourns the loss of Dr. Sherilyn Rae Benvenuti, who went home to be with the Lord on Feb. 8, 2017. Sheri served God passionately, loved generously, lived joyfully and took great delight in her students. Her larger-than-life spirit embraced all those around her.

An Assemblies of God minister for over 45 years, Sheri’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ compelled her to present the Gospel from a practical, “everyday life” perspective. Since age 18, she chose to serve the Body of Christ through evangelistic, youth, music and pastoral ministry, and was renown as a compelling speaker at churches, conferences, seminars and retreats.

Most of all, the extended Vanguard University community will remember Sheri as a beloved force upon campus who pursued her goal of exalting the name of Jesus with conviction, truth and joy. She began her long association with Vanguard University as a student, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1989 and a Master of Arts in 1992 both in Religion, Biblical Studies before attaining a Ph.D. in Social Ethics from the University of Southern California in 2000.

After serving as Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs at Life Pacific College in San Dimas, California, she returned to Vanguard University to teach Social Ethics in 1995 – a cherished role she held until her passing.  Also, Sheri served as the Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs at Vanguard University from 2001 to 2005.

In addition to her vital investment into the lives of students, Sheri further contributed to the community by cofounding in 2003 the Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University.  She envisioned the Center as an opportunity within the academic context to promote gender reconciliation and the inherent dignity of all people through the active engagement of redemptive Kingdom principles.

Sheri also wrote and published the book, “When Life Happens: An Honest Look at the Stuff That Comes Along,” in 2010. In this inspirational, faith-based memoir, Sheri encouraged readers to embrace the ups and downs of life by relaying biblical insights from the experiences of King David.  With laughter, as well as tears, Sheri offered a vision for how to live faithfully when “life happens.”

Sheri was born on August 6, 1952 in Upland, California. She is survived by “sisters of her heart” Sandy Wilson and April Westbrook; “children of her heart” Carlos Fernandez and Linda Hartzell Schubring; her brother Thomas E. Benvenuti, Jr.; nephews Anthony Benvenuti and Johnathan Benvenuti; niece Nicole Allison; and great niece Saxon Benvenuti.

A memorial service will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, at Newport Mesa Church on the campus of Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the William J. Seymour Endowed Scholarship at Vanguard University, established by Dr. Sheri Benvenuti in 2005 to support increasing diversity in the Vanguard University student body.

To make a gift in Dr. Benvenuti’s memory, please visit: Vanguard.edu/HonorSheri.


Leslie Allen Named Lions Stunt Coach

Vanguard University announced this month that Leslie Allen has joined the athletics department to serve as head stunt coach, a new position on the Costa Mesa campus. Allen comes with a wealth of coaching experience, having spent the last seventeen years as head cheer coach at St. John’s Lutheran School in Orange, Orange Lutheran High School, Cypress High School, and Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas.

“Leslie sees coaching as a ministry,” said Rhett Soliday, athletic director and men’s basketball coach at Vanguard University. “She loves investing in the lives of student-athletes, which fits well with the culture and mission at Vanguard. She has built teams throughout her career, and we look forward to having her build a Christ-centered program where we can produce great leaders for the future.”

Allen returns to her roots in Orange County after spending the last two years at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU).  In her first year at OBU, she took the Tigers to compete in their first ever stunt meet. OBU won each of the games that were played and based on their scores at that the meet, was ranked 6th nationally in Division II at the end of the stunt season.

Before heading to OBU, Allen spent three years at Cypress High School. She took a non-competitive team and made a winning competitive program, qualifying for finals at USA Nationals in each of her three years.

Over the 12 years Allen spent at Orange Lutheran High School, her varsity cheer teams won three National Championships and eight UCA State Championships, as well as regional and invitational state titles. Her teams were also finalists at UCA Nationals in Florida and regularly highlighted on ESPN for the National High School Cheerleading Championship. More than 75% of her senior cheerleaders at Orange Lutheran went on to cheer at the college level, many on athletic scholarship.

“My motto for each team I coach is ‘strive for excellence in everything we do’ and I believe this is the common thread that runs through every aspect of my role as a coach,” Allen said. “I look forward to forming this new team at Vanguard, and creating an environment where dedication, confidence, character and a personal Christian walk is developed in each team member.”

Stunt removes the crowd-leading element and focuses on the technical and athletic components of cheer.  It is a cheerleading game where two squads compete at the same time against each other, performing the same routine. The matches are divided into four quarters: the first quarter is partner stunts, the second is pyramids & baskets, the third is jumps & tumbling, and the last is a conglomeration of them all. Teams compete in three routines per quarter. After performing, the judges award a point to the team with best synchronization and performance difficulty. The sport of stunt is growing fast at both the college and high school level.

The new role of stunt coach that Allen will take on allows the university to begin a stunt program and expand opportunities to female student-athletes who will compete in stunts at the college level. Allen will start on January 30, and begin recruiting immediately for the 2017-18 academic year. Vanguard’s first competition is planned for spring 2018.

For more information, please contact Coach Allen at leslie.allen@vanguard.edu.