Second-year student Montana Leyva ’26 didn’t think a Vanguard University education would be possible. With her mind set on attending a public university after high school, she was shocked when God opened the door to experience an impactful Christ-centered education. Through several unexpected opportunities—including a presidential scholarship offer and a fellowship space with College Corp—Leyva became sure that God was leading her to Vanguard. “You can definitely sense the light of God here,” she said. “I knew I wanted to pursue that in my education.”
Barely a year into her college career, it has become clear to Leyva why God called her to VU. As a double major in Business Administration: Management and Theatre Arts: Technology and Design, she has stepped wholeheartedly into a leadership role amongst her peers. And it’s not just in the classroom where she’s practicing what it means to be a leader. As a COMPASS crew leader, she is helping other students develop the professional acumen to move confidently in the business world.
Developed by Jessica (Kerns ’05) Woolworth, assistant professor of accounting, COMPASS stands for “cultivating opportunities to maximize professionalism and advance student success.” It is a team-based program that challenges students to gain lifelong professional skills through conferences, networking opportunities, and events. Along the way, students compete with other crews by earning points for each program opportunity they engage in, Woolworth explained.
“These skills will be not only helpful to them in their college career, but in getting that job and in advancing in their career further on,” said Woolworth. The COMPASS program is designed to fill that gap in higher education and offer a space for students to practice that skill set. “We do what we can to make sure that our students are competitive in the marketplace after they graduate, not just academically, but also professionally.”
For Leyva, the program has brought about much more than just a way to build her business toolkit. It has taught her what it means to be a Christ-like leader and given her a framework that extends into her academic and community life:
“The way that I go about my communication and how I carry myself—everything that I do as a [theater] manager—all of that can be traced back to this past year working with COMPASS because it wasn’t something I was just learning in textbooks anymore. It was something I was practicing daily, and that gave me what I needed to work confidently in my field.”
Outside of her involvement in theater management at Vanguard, Leyva also serves through College Corp at the Arts and Learning Conservatory, an organization that gives underprivileged children in the community the opportunity to participate in theater and music. Equipped with the skills she’s gained from her involvement in COMPASS, she is learning to utilize her leadership abilities to serve the community and empower others. “The emphasis is not on me as a leader but on my community. I am their steward; I am their servant to get them to the places they need to be,” she stated.
Excited by the prospect of impacting others’ lives through Christ-like leadership, Leyva is eager to bring what she’s learned into the world of theater business. “I’ll be able to go into the world with a Christ-like mind of leadership and bring that to people that don’t have it,” she said. “I can show them what it means to be a leader in Christ.”
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