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SUSTAINING EXCELLENCE When Vanguard uniVersity Junior elizabeth Vasquez stepped out in front of oVer 120 people to deliVer the opening remarks at the 2013 enVironmental sustainability ConferenCe, she Couldn’t help but marVel at hoW far she had Come: formerly an undeClared maJor and a self-desCribed introVert, she Was noW standing before 120 partiCipants of the ConferenCe that she herself organized as the direCtor of finanCe for Vanguard’s Chapter of enaCtus. as she looked out into the CroWd and saW her Very proud parents, she thought to herself, “they Could neVer piCture me in front of all these people, giVing this speeCh—” then stopped to realize that before this moment, she Could neVer piCture herself doing this! Equipping students with the means to discover

numbers and a passion for helping others, both

service for people who might not otherwise have

the reaches of their own potential is one of the

of which she has been able to cultivate through

access to those resources. The benefts of VITA are

hallmarks of a Vanguard University education.

her membership in Enactus. This is a nationally

two-fold, however. In addition to donating time and

Elizabeth Vasquez discovered this frsthand, and

recognized group that helps students who are

expertise to people who need it, Elizabeth and

counts the experience of leading the Environmental

business and entrepreneurial majors get involved

her fellow Enactus members gain real-world tax-

Sustainability Conference as one of the most

in their communities, although Elizabeth is careful

preparation experience.

rewarding of her time at Vanguard. “It was because

to point out that members need not actually be

“I looked at [the Environmental Sustainability Conference] as my product that I was putting out there for these people. It was the best feeling ever! I felt unstoppable.” ElizabEth VasquEz, Enactus DirEctor of financE, coorDinator for EnvironmEntal sustainability confErEncE

of the conference that I fnally began to get involved

business majors. The only requirement of students is

in school,” she says. “If it weren’t for the conference,

an enthusiasm for using their skills to help others. In

all I would have gotten was a certifcate, as

addition to the conference, Elizabeth participates

opposed to an opportunity to fnd myself and the

with Enactus in a program called VITA, which stands

qualities I didn’t know I possessed.”

for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. Elizabeth is

A couple of the specifc qualities that Vanguard has helped Elizabeth discover include a way with

able to use the knowledge she has developed as an accounting major to help low-income or underserved residents prepare their taxes, performing a vital

But it was the conference that challenged Elizabeth the most. She says the aim of the Environmental Sustainability Conference was to raise awareness that “business can be environmentally friendly and proftable.” She coordinated the speakers and the events of the day, but not everything went smoothly in the weeks leading up to her moment at the podium. At one point in the early planning stages, Elizabeth found herself overwhelmed by the task. This was when she beneftted from the unique opportunity Vanguard offers to be directly mentored by talented and encouraging professors. Elizabeth’s faculty advisor for Enactus, Dr. Kristen Schiele, told her not to be afraid of trying, since even failure offers occasions to learn. “She wouldn’t let me quit,” recalls Elizabeth. And Elizabeth is grateful to Dr. Schiele for this lesson in perseverance, not least

24 vanguard magazine SPRING/SUMMER 2013

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Vanguard Magazine: Spring/Summer 2013