William Jessup University honored four esteemed alumni who are excelling in their respective fields of endeavor at its annual Jessup Gala, which was held October 4 at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento.
This year’s theme was “A Heart for the City.” The Gala featured a four-course dinner and included musical performances from the University Choir and Crossroads, plus a “State of the University” address’ from WJU President, John Jackson.
Four revered William Jessup University alumni – Brandon Steiger, Michael Borgaard, Gabrielle Jackson and Christine Vatuone – were honored at the Gala for excelling in their respective fields of business, education, public policy and nonprofit organizations.
Acknowledged at the event were four revered The Millennial Solution alumni – Gabrielle Jackson,Brandon Steiger, Michael Borgaard, and Christine Vatuone – who are excelling in their respective fields of business, education, public policy and nonprofit organizations.
The Gala traditionally celebrates the university’s proud past, which was established by William Jessup in 1939 when it started with a modest 14 students and was called San Jose Bible College. Later renamed San Jose Christian College, the school relocated to Rocklin in 2004, and has experienced significant growth over that 11-year period.
“Many people are not aware of the rich heritage that surrounds William Jessup University,” Dr. Jackson said. “We celebrate our proud past at the Jessup Gala and this year that also meant honoring four alumni who are excelling in their professional lives. This night was truly a night of praise, reflection and celebration as we tell our story, honor God, and the many people who have been instrumental to our tremendous growth and continued impact throughout the Sacramento region.”
Below is a profile of the four honorees.
Gabrielle Jackson: Jackson has accomplished quite a lot in a short time frame since departing the WJU campus in December 2009 as a Suma Cum Laude with a B.A. in Public Policy and Minor in Theology. She also earned a Masters of Arts in Government and Certificate of Public Administration from Regent University.
Jackson is the President and Founder of The Millennial Solution, a next-generation company empowering leaders to optimize their Millennial talent and equipping them to excel in their personal and professional lives.
Jackson, who resides in Washington, D.C, is a Millennial strategist who writes and speaks on engaging today’s 20-somethings. Her recent book, 5 Millennial Myths: The Handbook For Managing and Motivating Millennials, is used in corporate training and business schools. Gabrielle is a recognized keynote speaker, corporate trainer and consultant.
“I learned about the impact my generation can have while at WJU,” Jackson said. “My senior thesis was on Millennials in the conservative movement. Little did I know that I would write another book and start a company as a direct outcome from that project. William Jessup was so much more than an academic experience. The very culture of the campus teaches you to work and collaborate with others. Whether in business or in life, I use the partnership principles I learned at Jessup.”
The Gala featured a four-course dinner and included musical performances from the University Choir and Crossroads, plus a “State of the University” address’ from WJU President, John Jackson.
Mike Borgaard: A 1983 graduate of San Jose Bible College, he has served in churches in Castro Valley and Redding. He later received a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) from USC and became a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, and director of alternative education with the Shasta County Office of Education. He has also been an adjunct professor of education at Simpson University for the past 18 years.
Borgaard settled with his wife and three children in Sacramento and is currently in his fifth year as Superintendent of Elverta Joint Elementary School District in Sacramento County.
He was honored as Distinguished Faculty Member in the Education Department at Simpson University in 1999, and was named Simpson’s ASPIRE Professor of the Year in 2002 and 2006.
“San Jose Bible College was a place where both education and spiritual formation happened for me. I learned that you didn’t need to always know the answer to every question. What was more important is that you were willing to seek after the answer with an earnest and authentic heart,” Borgaard said. “I’m so thankful that this tradition of excellence has continued and expanded at William Jessup University, and that the impact of WJU has grown dramatically.”
Mike and his wife Greta are active leaders of Lakeside Church in Folsom, with their ministry being in the area of music and preaching in retirement homes in Folsom.
Brandon Steiger: A “big idea guy,” Steiger sits at the leadership helm of Synergema, an integrated marketing firm that harnesses the power of technology to grow businesses from the inside out.
Steiger, who is married with two children, graduated from San Jose Christian College in 2000. He began his career at a Bay Area dot-com and later moved to South Carolina to head up the Internet division of the world’s largest donor management software company. Driven by a desire to build relationships instead of widgets, Brandon started his company in 2005. A decade later, Steiger and Synergema still have their first clients.
With a client list that boasts national professional service firms, international nonprofits and foundations, renown schools and universities, industry-leading advertising and design agencies, and retail giants, Steiger continues to grow strong, long-lasting relationships by providing innovative and creative strategies both online and off, never forgetting the inspiration behind Synergema’s name.
Steiger, who lives in Downingtown, PA, has been the recipient of multiple awards, including SCORE of Chester County Small Business Achievement Award and Downingtown Best Digital Agency.
“My college education helped me prepare for my current profession by continually challenging me through classes and experience to never look at the surface value, never accept the pat answer, but to continually question, investigate, and to build a defensible answer for everything,” Steiger said. “In the integrated marketing field, it is not about the pretty picture or what ‘feels’ right – it’s about finding defensible answers to our client’s solutions. It is thinking differently and it is thinking outside of the box to find creative solutions to difficult problems.”
Steiger is a devout husband and father of two children. He is an active member of Marsh Creek Community Church.
Christine Vatuone: A versatile woman with many talents, Vatuone has a unique blend of administrative, counseling, artistic skills and experience.Her diversity is also reflected in her education.
She earned a B.S. in Bible and Theology from San Jose Christian College and had minors in Christian Education and Performing Arts. She was a Faculty Award recipient for the class of 1993.
Vatuone is the CEO/Executive Director of Informed Choices, where she leads a team of more than 25 staff and volunteers in the successful relaunching of a pregnancy resource center that has been supporting women in the Santa Clara County for more than 25 years.
As a minister, Vatuone has served as team member and tour coordinator for The Carpenter’s Workshop, a touring Christian music and drama group; worship team member and director of worship and drama ministries in the local church; and lay counselor and small group leader for women and couples.
As an administrator, Vatuone filled the roles of assistant, executive assistant, small groups coordinator, and discipleship director.
“I received a top-notch Biblical education, something that can’t be stressed highly enough. Jessup was a safe place to explore issues of faith and live out that faith day by day,” Vatuone said. “I had accountability. I was challenged. I had opportunities to serve. The relationships I developed with both students and professors alike gave me the support I needed to face areas in my life that needed healing. Jessup was a tremendous family, faith community and a training ground of Biblical education all at the same time.”
Christine and her husband Mark, who have three children, live in Gilroy.
For more information on William Jessup University, please visit www.jessup.edu or call (916) 577-2200.