#FacultyFriday: Meet Rajeev Sigamoney

For this week’s #FacultyFriday feature, meet Rajeev Sigamoney, an associate professor of film and television production in the department of visual arts. He has over 14 years of film experience as a writer, director, and producer for a variety of film projects, including feature-length films, TV series, and web series. He has also participated in and presented at many film conferences, seminars, and festivals, including the Napa Valley Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival.

Though he has only been at PUC since 2012, Sigamoney has already made a huge impact on our campus. He has been the faculty advisor for the Film Club and for the Student Association video yearbook editor for several years, and also served as the executive director for the annual Diogenes Film Festival, which showcases student projects at the nearby Cameo Cinema in St. Helena.

Name: Rajeev Sigamoney
Title: Associate professor of film and television production and film program coordinator
Email: rsigamoney@puc.edu
Faculty since: 2012

Classes taught: Short Scriptwriting I & II, Screenwriting I & II, Group Production, Cinematic Storytelling, Marketing & Distribution, Senior Thesis

Education: Bachelor’s in electrical/computer engineering from Johns Hopkins University, 1997; masters in technical management from Johns Hopkins University, 2002; masters of fine art in screenwriting from Academy of Art, 2016

Professional activitiesVisit Rajeev’s IMDB page to see his professional work.

What made you decide to be a teacher?
I enjoy being around young people and the ability to support the next generation of artists was something that excited me. Being able to do this in an Adventist school gives me the opportunity to develop the entire individual—making sure my students are valued and loved, apart from their work, something many artists seem to lose along the way.

What are some of your hobbies?
My favorite thing is to learn about different cultures and religions. Where we come from and what beliefs we hold most dear tell us the most about someone. So I constantly seek out to experience new places, events or people who will open up my world to something new.

What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I spent 10 years working in Hollywood and while there, got to work with Academy Award winning actress Octavia Spencer, and Emmy Award winners Tony Hale and Melissa McCarthy. I consider these years of experiences (good & bad) in the film industry to be the greatest asset I have to give my students.

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?
Diversity. Not just in the ethnicity of our students but in variety of thought. I love when I teach a screenwriting course, one student might be writing a romantic comedy, another an international drama, and another an epic sci-fi action film. Putting these students with diverse ideas into the same room together creates an experience I believe makes PUC one of a kind.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Fisher Hall. This building I spend the majority of my days in ends up being home to many of my film students. I get no greater joy than watching them hanging out with one another, spending late nights in the lab, and watching television in the lounge. I hope the experience of acceptance and creativity they get during their four years will be a model of a healthy community they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

What’s your favorite movie?
My favorite film is “Monsoon Wedding” by Mira Nair. It is a film that captures the intricacies of Indian life, balancing the good and bad of heritage and Western ideals. Every time I watch it, it makes me think, cry and laugh. It’s perfect from beginning to end.

What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?
Consider your education part of your career. What you do during your years of college, especially within film and television, aren’t just in preparation to become a filmmaker—they are what makes you a filmmaker. We just had a student develop a web series in a Group Production course that just paid her $10,000 more to develop a full season. Time and time again, I have seen student projects move them forward in their career, but only if they initially took the assignments seriously as part of their career in the first place.

#FacultyFriday: Meet Matthew Russell

This week’s #FacultyFriday introduces us to Matthew Russell, who joined the department of nursing and health sciences as an instructor of emergency services and emergency management last year. Mr. Russell is a great addition to PUC’s EMS program and the PUC campus in general, with licenses and certificates in a variety of rescue areas. He’s a perfect fit for a campus with such potential for outdoor education.

Name: Matthew Russell    
Title: Instructor of emergency services and emergency management
Email: mrussell@puc.edu
Faculty since: 2016

Classes taught: Public Safety System Design, Emergency Medical Practicum, EMT Lab, Health Education Practicum, Public Health, Fundamentals of Swift Water Rescue, Fundamentals of Technical Rescue, Emergency Scene Management

Education: Bachelor’s degree in international rescue and relief, from Union College, 2014; master’s in education, from Southern Adventist University, 2016  

What made you decide to be a teacher?
I chose to become a teacher because I am passionate about learning and I want to share that joy with others. I chose to teach emergency services and emergency management because that is where my skill set and passion lies. There is nothing better than going to work excited about what you will be sharing with the students that day.

What are some of your hobbies?
The majority of my hobbies revolve around the outdoors. I love swimming, downhill skiing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, SCUBA diving, mountain unicycling, and all manner of outdoor adventures. I love the people I have the opportunity to meet and the beautiful places these sports take me every weekend.

What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I kayaked the Colorado River 16 days through the Grand Canyon.

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?
By far my favorite thing at PUC is the people I have the opportunity to interact with every day. I love my students! They keep me on my toes. My co-workers have been so inviting and supportive. What more could you ask for?

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Definitely the Dining Commons! It’s where the food and the people are!

What’s your favorite song?
Lately Brad Paisley’s “Last Time for Everything” has been bounding through my brain. I don’t know why, it just has.

What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?
Be BOLD! Don’t be afraid to try something new. Step out and take each day with a smile. Smiles are free after all!

PUC Student Drew Macomber Places First at Rio Del Lago 100 Mile Race

Drew Macomber is a senior at PUC studying fine art. When he isn’t in Fisher Hall working on an art project, you can probably find him training in the college’s back 40 property for his next big race.

While most students spent the weekend of November 4th studying and preparing for classes, Drew was winning the Rio Del Lago, with an incredible finish time of 16:41:43, a full hour ahead of the second place runner. This is a 100 mile endurance race that began at Beal’s Point in the Folsom Lake state recreation area within the Sierra-Nevada Foothills, approximately 40 minutes east of Sacramento. The race, which started in 2000, combines two popular trail races in Northern California; the American River 50 and Way Too Cool 50k.

Below, Drew shares his motivation for racing and what he appreciates the most about the sport.

When did you get into running?
I got into running about five years ago. But since I was very young I’ve been into things that are outside. My family hikes a ton, and we grew up near Yosemite. So hiking in Yosemite was something I grew up doing quite often.

What inspires you to run?
I love being outside and I love physical challenges. Running is also how I stay sane day to day. I just have a passion for being outside and pushing myself.

Drew running in the Bay Ridge Trail Marathon in early October.

What other races have you participated in?
I’ve participated in about 15 ultras in California in the past two years, 50k’s and 50 milers. This was the first 100.

How many races have you run in total? Can you calculate how many miles?
I’ve run 17 races total, that’s around 642 miles of racing.

What races will you be running next?
I don’t have anything lined up yet, but the plan is to do the Lake Sonoma 50 miler in the spring.

Drew running in the Rio Del Lago. (Photo by Facchino Photography)

Where did you train for this race? Did you use the college’s back 40 property at all?
I trained in the back 40, as well as in the Los Posadas State Forest, and a lot on the new Dan’s Wild Ride trail to Hennessy, which goes over Moore Creek several times.  

Is being at a place like PUC, surrounded by beautiful trails and a cross country tracks, something that inspires you to want run more?
Totally, the accessibility is phenomenal! Being able to run out the back door right into the trails is a huge blessing that I never take for granted. No matter how many times I’ve been out there, it’s always beautiful.

Hearts of Service: PUC’s Summer 2017 Mission Trip to Kenya

PUC Student Association President Megan Weems spent her summer a little differently than the average college student: she embarked on a nearly 30 hour trek to Maasai Mara, Kenya with others from the PUC family for several days to serve the community there. We asked her to talk about her inspiring experience learning about a new culture and giving back to those less fortunate in our world. Here is Megan’s story.

Our team was comprised of 15 people. We had two doctors, one nurse, one professor, and 11 other people, all who had hearts for service. We left on a Monday afternoon to embark on a long journey from small town Angwin, Calif., to the middle of the Maasai Mara in Kenya. It took one 15 and half hour flight to Dubai, a six hour flight to Nairobi, and then an eight hour safari car ride from Nairobi to the Maasai Mara, our final destination.

We arrived on a Friday, the next day we went to a Maasai Adventist church. On Sabbath afternoon and Sunday we went on a safari around the Maasai Mara, with beautiful views and plethora of animals. After resting up for the few days on the Mara and shaking off the jetlag, the team was in preparation mode for the week to come. We were separated into bush clinic teams, a Vacation Bible School team, and a painting/construction crew. Our group was small but all very driven and excited to be doing our part to help the Maasai community.

We set up five bush clinics while during our time in Maasai Mara. The bush clinics consisted of a team of doctors; Dr. Jonathan Wheeler and his wife, Dr. Julie Perry Wheeler; nurse Francis Aho; and recent PUC nursing graduate Elizabeth Shown. Each day they packed their lunches, put on their scrubs, piled into a safari truck, and drove to a surrounding village in need of medical attention. They offered basic medical checkups,eye checkups, a pharmacy, triage station, and lots of prayer for each Maasai native seen. On a typical day the bush clinic team would see as many as 70 people.

Upon arrival our VBS team first met with the headmaster of the Olosonin Primary school. We discovered the school had over 700 students enrolled and only eight teachers overseeing them. Each morning began with song service led by recent PUC grad Kelly Siegel and myself. Following song service, Dr. Peterson, adjunct professor of music at PUC, would give a Bible story complete with puppets and various instruments. Each day closed with an arts and crafts section which allowed each child the opportunity to create something they could take home. Towards the end of the week the children were excitingly awaiting our arrival at the beginning of each day. At the end of our weeklong program, the children showed their thanks by treating us to a traditional Maasai tribal dance, grabbing our hands and making us join in.

After spending the mornings with the children, we began painting the staff quarters of the first all girls high school in Maasai. Each afternoon we teamed up with a Maasai native, our very own Fabio Maia, the service and missions coordinator at the college, along with five other PUC students. Our crew scraped, primed, and paint the walls. Once school let out, the students would come and dance, sing, and play along as we worked. A great memory for me will always be the Maasai children teaching us Swahili songs, as we taught them English.

Our group was extremely fortunate to have amazing American native hosts. The Aho family are the owners of Mara West (accommodation) and African Missions Services. They run their own community clinic and led our bush clinics. We were blessed to be able to serve the community in the capacity we did and then come back to safe and comfortable accommodations. The Maasai Mara area is blessed to have them and we are blessed to know them.

This trip is something each of us will never forget, and it will stay with us throughout our lives. The PUC missions office strives to create lasting relationships around the world and hopes to return to Maasai Mara soon. The PUC family is expanding from Angwin to all over the world, from Brazil to Fiji and beyond. Now we have just added more beautiful souls, the people of the Maasai Mara.

The group was fortunate enough to go on a safari in the Maasai Mara. We were able to experience and see firsthand the animals of Kenya in their natural habitat. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

Each day a part of the team went out to the primary school to lead a Vacation Bible School program. The team would sing songs, pray, put on puppet Bible stories, and make arts and crafts with and for the kids. It was a great way to really get the children involved with the members of our missions group to learn and swap stories about faith, love, and life. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

While distributing donated water filters to community schools on the Maasai Mara, students would charge the truck to see what was happening. Each filter will provide 70,000 gallons of clean water. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

Dr. Peterson putting a performance to the children during church service. The children were amazed and bewildered at the violin and the sounds that came from it. (Picture by Dylan Turner)

Dr. Wheeler with a patient at one of the clinics hosted with African Missions Services. Dr. Wheeler did general patient checkups while his wife Dr. Julie Perry, an ophthalmologist, did eye checkups. Praying with the patients was one thing Dr. Wheeler made sure to do. There was a translator present for every checkup. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

Every day at the Olisonoon Primary School, all 705 students eat the same thing for lunch, a corn-based porridge. They stand in line with a cup ready to receive their daily portion. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

This is the crew that helped in the construction site. Each day this group would prime, paint, and work hand in hand with the local construction workers to finish the new faculty housing for the only all girls high school in the area. (Picture by Esau Gonzalez)

Returning missionaries Kelly (Brazil, nine months), Cristina (Brazil, nine months), and Megan (Fiji, nine months) were the leaders of VBS. This was the end of the first day of VBS with the kids. (Picture by Dylan Turner)

#FacultyFriday: Meet Victor Gaines

Mr. Victor Gaines joined the team of esteemed PUC academia in 2014 as assistant professor in the department of business where he teaches an array of accounting and finance classes. Gaines came to PUC after being an adjunct assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for 15 years where he taught accounting and management classes. Before deciding to use his vast business experience to give back through teaching, Gaines held various positions including chief financial officer at Forest Lake Education Center, county auditor in Orange County, Flor., and senior auditor at Ruddick Corporation in Charlotte, N.C., and spent over 20 years in the Marine Corps.

Name: Victor W. Gaines
Title: Assistant professor of business administration
Email: vgaines@puc.edu
Faculty since: July 1, 2014

Classes taught: Financial Accounting; Managerial Accounting; Cost Accounting I & II; Intermediate Account I & II; Fraud Examination; Government and Non-for-Profit Accounting; Advance Accounting; Auditing; Accounting Topics: Internal Auditing; Insurance and Risk Management

Education: Bachelor’s in management/accounting, from Park College in Parkville, Mo., 1997; MBA, from Webster University in St. Louis, Mo., 1999; DBA with an emphasis in management, from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., 2017

Professional activities: Seminar and on-site instructor for The Institute of Internal Auditors since June 2000

What made you decide to be a teacher?
I always wanted to give back. Throughout my professional career, I had several individuals who helped me. I felt there was no better way to help others than through education. So, I became a business manager and then a teacher.

What are some of your hobbies?
Most of my hobbies revolve around the outdoors. I love hiking and camping when I get a chance.

What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Most individuals do not know I served 22 years in the United States Marine Corps., and 10 of those years I served as a helicopter mechanic/crew chief on CH 46 helicopters.

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?
My favorite thing about PUC is the wonderful students. I love hearing their stories and how they decided to come to PUC. It’s very inspiring.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
I definitely like the back 40. When I get the chance, I like to go in the back 40 where it is nice and quiet.

What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?
The best advice I would give a freshman would be get to know their advisor as soon as possible and become “best friends” with them. This needs be done as soon as possible. This will help the student develop a roadmap as they work toward graduation. Also, make sure that you have a healthy blend of academics and fun time. Too much of either one can be devastating.

PUC Communication Major JJ Reynolds Honored at Annual SAC Convention

JJ Reynolds, center, with Tamara Wolcott Fisher, right, president of the Society of Adventist Communicators, and Dan Weber, left, communication director for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Every year the Society of Adventist Communicators meets to bring fellow Adventist communicators together to network, learn, and grow as well as to celebrate great accomplishments of both professionals and students aspiring to work in the field. This year, PUC sent one faculty member and five students to represent the college for the three day event in Portland, Ore., October 19-21.

JJ Reynolds, who is studying multi-cultural communication and business at PUC, attended the event and received special recognition by the SAC.  

Congratulations on receiving the Honorable Overall Student Communication Award at the recent Society of Adventist Communicators conference! Tell me about your award. Were you nominated, or did you have to submit your work to be recognized?

I was not expecting to win this award. I believe Professor Michelle Rai, the chair of the department of communications, nominated me for it.

How does it feel to be recognized for your achievements?

It feels good knowing all the effort I have put in outside of school is paying off more than just financially.

Tell me about your experience at the SAC conference you just attended. Was it the first time you attended the conference? Did you find it to be valuable to attend as a student?

It was my first time attending the SAC conference. I didn’t know what to expect! I didn’t know if it would be workshops or speakers, hands-on or lecture based. I went because I love to learn and figured this would be a good place to start.

It turned out to be a great networking event for anyone who would like to pursue a career in the Adventist communication field and I would highly suggest for anyone in the field to attend.

You’re the video producer for the Student Association this year. What plans do you have for what you would like to do?

This year, I am trying to shed some light on what PUC has to offer as well as creating material for students. We currently are running a weekly series called “The PUC Moment” hosted by Pastor Mark Witas. The goal is to share a moment of inspiration and knowledge which is geared towards our PUC family!

I am also working on specific stories from each of the departments on campus. I am not sure how far I will get this year but I am hoping that next year someone will continue it.

You’re also involved in a lot of other things on campus. What other projects are you working on right now?

I am currently involved with the 5000Drops campaign. PUC has partnered with Water For Good to raise awareness and funds for the maintenance and creation of wells in the Central African Republic! To learn more visit 5000drops.com.