Mr. Daniel Silver - Ms. Callie Hyde - Mr. Rye Clifton - Mr. Bryan Klimt - Mr. Ryan Squires – Ms. Katie Kaga -
Ms. Julie Covington - Mrs. Eloisa Esparza - Ms. Ginnie Lowder - Mr Jake Schwartz - Mr. Nate Taylor -
Ms. Richelle Braswell - Mr. Chad Robinson - Dr. Mallory SoRelle - Dr. Alex Jones Adesina -
Dr. Jacob Pleitz - Ms. Lexi Strickland
This fall, 12 Viking alums signed on to be part of the first-ever Alumni Council. Headed by Greta Knoll, Director of Alumni Relations, the team is charged with getting up to 20 alumni from around the country plugged in with their alma mater.
“I hope that we are able to connect and reconnect with alumni from across the almost 50 years since the school was founded,” Knoll said. “The alumni are a great resource as part of a Vanguard network when it comes to inspiring students to see what they can accomplish with a Vanguard education, in exploring careers through shadowing and internship opportunities and with their experience in various fields that provide cutting edge information connecting education with real-world application.”
The council will provide content for the Alumni Connection blog; promote alumni participation in all alumni-sponsored events; report alumni news to the director of alumni relations, and act as ambassadors for the Vanguard community. They will meet twice a year.
“The council is enthusiastic about connecting with their classmates and taking part in the alumni events we hold throughout the year,” Knoll said. “They've already started contacting classmates and are looking for class ambassadors.”
Jacob Pleitz (‘02), Assistant Director of Institutional Research & Assessment for the University of Alabama, lives in Tuscaloosa. He said he’s looking forward to connecting with and impacting current students through the alumni network.
Nate Taylor (‘97), LinkedIn Account Executive and Entrepreneur, hopes he can bring his experiences at LinkedIn to help the current and future students find their dream jobs and excel.
“My hope is to develop a network of Vanguard alumni who are able to assist with and guide the future academic and professional careers of current students by providing mentorships, shadow opportunities and career connections,” he said.
Callie Hyde (‘12) said she would like to be a mentor for Vanguard students who hope to go to law school or grad school in the future. She recently graduated from Georgetown Law School and passed the Bar exam.
“I know what it's like to shift from high school to college, to move from Waco elsewhere, and to feel totally lost in the crazy social, academic, and extracurricular world that is high school,” she said. “I'd love to be a voice of encouragement and practical advice.”
Personal business consultant Katie Kaga (‘99) said she hopes her interaction with current students will empower them to see where they can end up with the preparation Vanguard provides.
“Vanguard alumni are prepared for all settings of academia, from small schools to the largest in the nation,” said Kaga, who graduated from the University of Maryland. “I hope the alumni council can show the current students that anything is possible.”
Alumni Council members agree that Vanguard prepared them well for their future endeavors.
“My Vanguard’s education prepared me for the rigors of undergrad and grad school,” Kaga said. “My ability to research and write research papers absolutely is because of the preparation from all of my English teachers at Vanguard.”
Access to technology was a big plus for Rye Clifton (‘99).
“I was the system administrator for the email system, learned some HTML when Netscape was still around, and had access to one of the first CD burners in the country,” he said. “Access to what was new and next fueled my curiosity surrounding emerging technologies.”
Pleitz said Vanguard taught him discipline and balance.
“By the time I entered college, I had already practiced several years of learning how to be disciplined while also enjoying the freedom that comes from attending a unique school like Vanguard,” he said. “This level of balance was integral for my entry into a doctoral program and then into the workforce within higher education.”
Richelle Braswell (‘13), contractor, also learned the importance of balance while attending Vanguard.
“I divided my time between school, homework and studying, sport practices/games, other school activities and friends,” she said. “Now, that that has transferred to balancing life with work, friends, family and hobbies. Vanguard also taught me to work hard and to ask people for help or advice when needed.”
“Vanguard prepared me through both school and sports," he said. "School taught me that hard work pays off. You don't have to be the smartest person in the room (Lord knows I wasn't) but if you put in the work you could emerge a leader. And for sports, it taught me the importance of teamwork which I've taken with me not only in my professional life but in my family life as well. We all win when we work as a team.”
The ability to handle everything that comes her way is a quality for which Hyde credits her Vanguard education.
“Vanguard prepared me for life as an attorney by teaching me to juggle tasks, prioritize, work hard and pursue mentorship,” Hyde said. “I'm thankful that I went into Baylor and Georgetown already knowing how to study well and seek advice from professors. College felt like an extension of Vanguard. I was fully prepared for everything I encountered at Baylor, which then readied me for Georgetown.”
Great memories of their time at Vanguard is part of what made Kaga, Clifton and Pleitz want to be part of the alumni council.
“One of my favorite memories was losing our senior lounge privileges and being forced to build a shanty town outside,” Pleitz said. “We brought chairs and a TV and barbecued outside all day. Fortunately the weather was very pretty.”
Making lifelong friends has been special for Kaga.
“We had such fun,” she said. “Some of my lifelong friends are alumni. It’s always great to get together and reminisce about our time at Vanguard.’
Clifton said he now values how his class grew and changed.
“Currently my favorite thought is looking back and seeing how our class has evolved,” he said. “There were about 35 of us and everyone seems to have gone in a completely different directions.”
Braswell’s best memory revolves around a time she was playing in a middle school basketball game, was fouled during a tense moment and made her free throws.
“I made both free throws,” she said. “I was so proud to make both of them while all of my fellow basketball players watched. I hope to remind fellow Vanguard alum why they loved Vanguard and to help them reconnect with our alma mater.”
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