PUC in Pictures: Winter 2018 Edition

As we take a few days before starting spring quarter, here’s a look back at some of our favorite moments from the winter.

#Home 💚💛

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Professor Rusch showing off his skills. #art

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Remember—You can follow PUC’s official Instagram account (@PUCNow) and follow the Student Association on Snapchat (@puc.sa) for a closer look at student life at PUC.

We’re looking forward to another beautiful spring quarter with you at PUC! See you on April 1st! 

Choosing a Major in College

By Janae Bowman

Picking a college major can be a bit stressful. As an enrollment counselor, the number one question I get asked is, “Am I stuck with this major?” Don’t worry! Picking a major doesn’t lock you into an exact career for the rest of your life, but it does mean you will spend a lot of time with the subject you choose. So here are a few of my tips before you make a decision.

What is a major?

First off, what is a major? A major is a bundle of classes put together by a college in order to receive a degree. This bundle of classes will typically have a subject of your choice paired with some general education requirements.

Is picking a major important?

It can be important to pick a major sooner rather than later if you are interested in earning a professional degree after college. Some professional programs, like medical school, can have a list of prerequisites or certain courses you must complete before you even apply. (If you’re interested, take a look at the curriculum guidesheets for each major to see what classes are required and if there are any prerequisites for continuing on to a professional program.)

When to declare a major?

Most people think you must have your major picked out before starting school. When you are filling out college applications, most ask what your expected major is. It is okay if you don’t know what major you want to pick before you start. According to the U.S Department of Education, about one in ten students change majors more than once. During your first year of college, take time and figure out the field you want to be in. Usually, by your sophomore year in college, you will want to officially declare a major.

Most important tips for picking a major:

  1. Pick something you are interested in. You will be spending a lot of time in that field. So if you dislike what you are studying, you will be miserable and won’t be very motivated to finish.
  2. Evaluate your skills. What are you good at? It’s probably not the best idea to major in something you know you are weak in. If you’ve barely passed science classes during high school, majoring in a science is probably not the best decision. Go into a major being confident you will do well with most of the topics.
  3. Consider growth industries and do your research. Think about the skills you will have and how much those skills will be in demand by the time you are in the field.
  4. Look at what types of income you can receive from different jobs in your field. It’s hard to predict exactly what you will earn but it can give you a realistic idea of what your future may look like.
  5. Talk to people who are in the fields you are interested in. Ask them how they got there and tips they might have for students going into the field. It may open your mind and help you in making that major decision. They may even be open to you allowing you to shadow them and get a real glimpse into what the field is like.

Overall, don’t worry if you have no idea what to do when it comes to picking a major. You will be able to evaluate your interest in college, it just may take some time. Sometimes if you don’t pick a major, a major will pick you!

If you’re in need of some ideas for what your options are when it comes to deciding what to study at PUC, don’t hesitate to contact our team of enrollment counselors. They can talk with you about what’s available at PUC and what sounds like could be a good fit for you. Call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email enroll@puc.edu to get connected with a counselor now.

Learn More About GNRL-296, Intro to Geographic Information Systems

This year, a new class is being offered at PUC, GNRL-296, Intro to Geographic Information Systems (GIS for short), taught by Peter Lecourt, the college’s new forest manager. Peter recently received his master’s in geographic information systems from the University of Redlands and has a passion for the environment. He is eager to share his knowledge with students at PUC. We asked Peter to tell us more about the class and why students should be interested in taking it.

Tell us about the class and why it’s significant that it’s being taught at PUC.
GIS is the use of computers to analyze and portray geographic information. Maps are key tools in many fields, and the vast majority of modern maps are made using GIS. PUC is one of just four Adventist institutions offering an undergraduate class in GIS, which is significant as GIS is a growing field important to many industries and disciplines.

What type of student should take the class?
Anyone interested in maps will enjoy this class. Specifically, the knowledge gained in this class will help students in the disciplines of environmental studies, business, emergency services, social work, and history.

Why should students take the class?
Aside from being a useful skill in many industries, digital map making is fun. Students in the fall 2017 class really enjoyed the hands-on experience playing with GIS in the lab period. At a light two credits, and offered in the evening, even the most demanding schedule can fit this class.

What can students hope to gain from taking this class?
The ability to create maps, as well as an appreciation and better understanding of cartography, and knowledge of a cutting-edge field.

What is your favorite thing about teaching this class?
Sharing knowledge of a discipline that many enjoy, yet didn’t even know existed. There are a lot of “light bulb” moments in this class as students see behind the scenes of how maps they have seen before are created.

Interested in taking GNRL-296? The two credit class is available this coming spring quarter on Mondays from 6-6:50 p.m., with a lab on Wednesdays from 6-9 p.m.

Peter Lecourt, who also works as the college’s forest manager, will be teaching GNRL-296.

#FacultyFriday: Meet Katharine Van Arsdale

Katharine Van Arsdale is a Texan-turned-Californian who loves books. This is appropriate, considering her profession: She is one of our team of librarians here at PUC who helps students and other faculty find what they need. Katy adores her two cats, Mochi and Meeka, and has a passion for history. Without further ado, introducing: Katharine Van Arsdale!

Name: Katharine Van Arsdale
Title: Special Collections Librarian
Email: kvanarsdale@puc.edu
Faculty since: 2015

Classes taught: Information literacy sessions for all kinds of cool classes in different departments

Education: B.A. English, Andrews University; MSLS Library & Information Science, Catholic University of America; M.A. History, Catholic University of America

What made you decide to be a librarian?
I’m a special collections librarian at an academic library, which is honestly my dream job. The “special collections” part means I get to work with rare books and archives full of old letters and photographs and diaries. It’s all the coolest stuff in the library. I knew I wanted to do this job when I was a kid and I visited museums. I saw all the interesting objects hidden behind glass and I thought to myself, “I want to be the one who has permission to touch all the historic things.” So that’s what I do now every day, and it’s great. The best part is that I work in an academic library’s collection, which means that I’m making these rare books and fragile photographs available to student researchers. I’m taking the cool exhibits out from behind the glass and sharing history with PUC, and I love that.

What are some of your hobbies?
I’m obsessed with National Parks. My life goal is to visit and hike in every National Park. California is a great state for this, because a lot of the most beautiful parks in the United States are here within driving distance of PUC.

What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I grew up in Texas, and until I was about 10 I spoke with a thick Texan drawl. It’s totally gone now. Well, mostly.

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?
I love the campus. There are trees and flowers everywhere, and the views are always changing as you walk across the campus because it’s hilly. Many of the buildings are historic, and they have very interesting architecture. The campus is also special because it’s close to wilderness and city, mountains and ocean. From PUC, we can go for a hike in the forest preserve, or we can take a day trip to San Francisco. It’s all nearby.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
I love standing on the steps to Irwin Hall when the sun is setting. You get such a gorgeous view of the campus and the sky.

What’s your favorite book?
My favorite book is “The Count of Monte Cristo” because it’s a glorious revenge tale but also a classic book, so you feel very cultured and smart when you finish reading it.

What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?
If you have questions or problems with any stage of research or study, you can text the library. Did you know that? It’s true! We have a Text-a-Librarian number so you can get help even when you can’t come to the library. Try it—the number is (707) 948-6639!

#FacultyFriday: Meet Milbert Mariano

PUC’s department of visual arts has been led by the same very capable chair for a dozen years now. Milbert Mariano, native to SoCal, taught for four years at Andrews University in Michigan before moving back to the West Coast and joining the visual arts faculty at PUC. He’s an outdoor enthusiast like none other and enjoys pretty much any activity that involves being outside. Without further ado, let’s get to know Milbert Mariano.

Name: Milbert Mariano
Title: Professor of Graphic Design
Email: mmariano@puc.edu 
Faculty since: 1995

Classes taught: Typography, Publication Design, Interactive Design, Environmental Graphic Design, among others.

Education: MFA, San Francisco Academy of Art; BS, Pacific Union College

Highlighted professional activities:

Juror for the Napa Lighted Art Festival and the Napa Art Walk

What made you decide to be a teacher?
After getting my design degree at PUC, I had the opportunity to teach at Andrews University. I realized that teaching was my calling while I was teaching there. A few years later, PUC called me as they were expanding their design program. I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of helping grow. I’ve been teaching ever since and chairing for the past 12 years.

What are some of your hobbies?
I love food, travel, running, and 80s trivia.

What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I can solve a Rubik’s cube and do a New York Times crossword puzzle (Mondays only) in about 8-10 minutes.

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?
The community of faculty, staff, and their families. We work and go to church together, and live relatively close to each other. I think it’s important to find and build community wherever you are.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Anywhere in Fisher Hall/Visual Arts Department. It’s like my second home.

What’s your favorite book?
“Les Miserables”

What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?
PUC’s a great place to put in your 10,000 hours. So work your rear off, and make yourself at home.

Randy Ramos, Your Student Chaplain!

By Becky St. Clair

This week we caught up with Randy Ramos, student chaplain here at PUC. Randy grew up in Southern California and chose PUC because he wanted to stay in the state, but wanted to stretch his wings a bit, too. By all accounts, it sounds like he made the right choice. We talked to Randy a bit about his spiritual journey, his experience at PUC, and the hopes he has for his future. Without further ado, we introduce to you Randy Ramos!

What led you to choose a theology major?

It’s definitely a calling. To be honest, I never wanted to be a pastor and didn’t see myself as one. I actually wanted to do physical therapy—something I’d planned on doing since fifth grade. Then I came here and I realized my calling wasn’t to the medical world, but to minister to people in a different way. To help them find spiritual healing. Just taking the basic theology classes started to build my passion for looking into scripture to see how God views us.

Growing up the focus was more on how we view God, and ultimately what I’ve come down to in the last four years here at PUC is how God views us is shaped by how we view him. If we view him with anger, we’ll see him as an angry God. Scripture says he loves and wants us. Studying theology and diving into the Bible has reshaped how I view God, and I want to share that with other people—I want to help them find their own view of God that gives them peace and joy.

Tell me about your job. What kinds of things are you responsible for as student chaplain?

Well, along with the Student Association’s religious vice president, I’m in charge of spiritual life on campus. I want to make sure people on campus are doing well and their spiritual life is going well. If they’re struggling, students can talk to the campus chaplain or myself, and since I’m closer to their age, it gives me the chance to minister in a different way. I also create and lead Bible studies. I see the importance of small groups in building relationships, because that’s how Jesus did it with his small group of disciples. Although they didn’t quite catch on during his ministry, they finally got it when He ascended. It was then they realized the importance of a closer relationship with Christ. I want to see that model grow here at PUC, too, by urging through small groups the importance of rediscovering who God is in our lives.

So, what is it you love most about your job?

First, that I don’t see it as a job. It’s a passion, and what I’ve truly been called to. When those two become one—a passion and a calling together—it just doesn’t feel like work. This is what I’m meant to do for the rest of my life: Care for people the way Jesus cared for people and the way He cares for us now. I also love the opportunity to build relationships with people, watching them grow spiritually. My first roommate didn’t want anything to do with God. He had a lot of doubt. Throughout the year I spent as his roommate, I never preached the Gospel at him, or told him what to believe. I built the friendship first and then we began opening the Bible and praying together. Eventually he opened up, asking me to pray for him and his family. Our close friendship started it all. I love creating opportunities for more relationships like that to take place here on campus.

Just because you love it doesn’t mean it’s easy, right? What do you find challenging about being a student chaplain?

Getting people to see your vision. Sometimes you can do a lot of motivating and planning, trying to inspire others to see God loves them, and He is moving in their lives. Sometimes the response is, “meh.” Sometimes they don’t want to see it. Sometimes it can be sad seeing people not tasting and seeing the glory of God, but everyone has their own spiritual walk. Being patient with others’ walks is hard, too. We can all grow and move forward, but it takes time. It took time for the disciples; for example, Peter denied Jesus but if you look at Acts you see the Peter who now gets it. What Jesus told him to do he’s out in the world doing. It just takes time.

Since you mentioned spiritual walks, can you tell us a little bit about your own?

Of course! I came here knowing what I’d been taught, and knowing how God views us. I came feeling really guilty about the things I’d messed up in the past, and believed God to be extremely angry with me. During my first year here I started really looking into the life of Jesus, and I discovered He’s the mirror reflection of the Father. It was at that point I saw the Bible in a whole new light, realizing God actually really loves me. Loves all of us. That really shaped my spiritual journey. Now I can look back at my worst days and see God there, too, just loving me.

I’ve grown a lot here at PUC. I’ve come to realize church isn’t just a service on Sabbath. There’s so much more to it than four walls and a roof. Church is a broken community coming together for healing, and to accept the love God is always there to give. That has shaped a lot of how I’m going to go into ministry, understanding how God views me.

Growing up, I was afraid to ask the hard questions. “Who is God?” “Does he even exist?” “Does He even love us?” It was so hard because I was afraid people would shut me down. It wasn’t until I was about 16-years-old when I started realizing what was happening in my life had a reason. I started trusting God and walking with Him of my own accord, and really believed He had a plan for me. When I came here to PUC, I realized the same struggle was going on with people around me, too—there were other people asking the hard stuff I had asked. When we came together we were asking these questions, even in Bible studies I attended. It was so relieving to know I wasn’t alone in my questioning and doubt.

Last year I took a class called “God and Human Suffering.” That was a tough class. For one assignment, I wrote a paper called “A Theodicy,” which was basically a defense of God’s character. In that paper, through my own testimony, experience, and scripture, I looked at people who have died in my life and asked, “Why?” Why did my 10-year-old cousin die? Why did my high school friend die? I wrestled with my faith, and ultimately, it came down to this thing called sin. And it sucks. But God sent His son to overcome it, to give us life. We’re not going to be obedient to death, but Jesus was. That’s why He says He’s the way, the truth, and the life.

PUC is a place where asking questions is okay. It’s a place where you’ll find spiritual leadership to help you find the answers and point you to the true God. I keep going back to the fact if God allowed Job to ask these questions, we can do the same. God won’t be hurt by our questions. What it really comes down to is do you trust God?

You’re graduating this year and heading out into the world with your absolute faith and trust in God, and a solid education. What will you do with it?

That’s the big question, isn’t it? My ultimate goal is to pastor, whether that’s through chaplaincy, teaching, or other ways. It doesn’t have to be at a church. I want to lead a group of people as we move together to build leadership and empower the next generation. This has been my calling and I feel it’s the calling for the rest of my life. Giving my life to ministry was a huge step in my life, and I don’t plan on ever looking back.

How do you feel your time at PUC has helped you prepare for both your career and other aspects of your future?

It’s the experience here. Through the worst days, I feel that’s where I’ve learned the most that’s helped me prepare to relate to people who are struggling. The best way to relate to people is through experience and testimony. Even my good days are a testimony, as I can share with someone who’s struggling that better days are coming. What has really prepared me is not just classes and education, but experiences I’ve had here on campus.

You were recently given an award. What was it, and how were you selected?

Oh man, I was so surprised to learn I’d been been selected for this award. According to the email I received, the Charles E. Weniger Fellows student scholarship is awarded to students who exemplify positive qualities and characteristics in campus leadership. I’m honored to be selected for this award, as it tells me I have been effectively allowing Christ’s character to shine through me. I can attribute this only to allowing Jesus to lead the way in my life.

If you could give all incoming freshmen one piece of advice, what would it be?

Just one? Haha! Seriously, though, I think I’d most want them to know it’s okay to ask the hard questions—they will allow you to grow. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to struggle. Out of that, something beautiful happens. I’m speaking to myself, here, too. I was afraid of failing and struggling, but out of that, in Ecclesiastes 3, the Bible tells us God makes everything beautiful in its time. There’s a season for everything. It’s okay to go through the hard stuff, because He’ll be with you every step of the way.

#FacultyFriday: Meet Hilary Dickerson

Welcome to #FacultyFriday! Meet Hilary Dickerson, professor of history. Dr. Dickerson is a long-time West Coast resident, having completed four degrees in Washington State before moving south to teach here at PUC. Her interest in WWII-era history led her to a short-term research position in Japan, which has given her invaluable experience as a professor and a historian. But more on that later. Introducing: Dr. Dickerson!

Name: Hilary Dickerson
Title: Professor of History
Email: hdickerson@puc.edu
Faculty since: Fall 2007

Classes Taught: U.S. History, Intro to Asia, History Methods II (Historiography), Civil War and Reconstruction, Recent America: 1945-Present, Seminar in Asia, Seminar in the U.S., History Methods IV (Senior Thesis), History of Culture: Cold War America, U.S. Diplomatic History, History Study Tour, and an Honors course: Race and the American Century

What do you enjoy most about being a professor?
I love interacting with students, particularly watching students transform and master skills (reading, original research, writing, presentations) they once thought close to impossible. My favorite part of teaching is the growth I see in my students’ scholarship and character from their freshman to senior years as they encounter the world.

What is your area of expertise and why did you choose that?
My specialty is U.S.-Japanese relations during World War II and the Occupation, particularly involving the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I chose it partially because I heard my grandfather’s stories about fighting in the Pacific during World War II, and I read a book on the atomic bomb as an undergraduate. I also chose it partially by accident; I came across a group of women, the Hiroshima Maidens, in something I was reading in early graduate school and shifted my interest from an environmental history of Hanford Nuclear Site to this group of women who, despite being bombed by the U.S., traveled here afterward for plastic surgery to fix their scars.

What do you find most challenging about your job?
Staying up-to-date on current research in the field of history and making history relevant for college students.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to teach kindergarten for a while, which is hysterical now because my classroom management skills for that age group are non-existent.

I understand you’ve spent significant time in Japan. Tell us about that.
I lived in Japan for seven months as a research fellow at International Christian University when I was ABD (All But Dissertation in my doctoral program) and have had the privilege of traveling in Japan several other times as well. While there, I conducted my own research three days a week, and usually traveled the other four, unless I needed to help out with a conference or proofread professors’ latest projects.

In Japan, I learned about the importance of traveling alone and pushing myself to try new things even when it felt uncomfortable. I frequently draw on my research from that era as I teach or work on new projects of my own; I learned how to negotiate difficult research topics—such as the death and destruction wrought by the atomic bomb—as a citizen of the country that built the bomb.

I was initially most surprised by Japan’s blend of cutting-edge modern life with tradition, but I should not have been. I was also surprised at how good my Spanish became in Japan; I’d studied in Argentina in college, and surrounded by a new language, I started thinking in Spanish instead of English. When I tried to speak in my limited and halting—and frankly awful—Japanese, Spanish words came out instead. It is funny now, but it wasn’t always then.

And finally, I learned what it feels like to be an outsider while I lived in Japan—to not speak the language, understand all parts of a culture, be able to express myself easily. I brought that with me to teaching, I hope. I think the experience gave me empathy for my students when they are working to learn something new and frustrated by how long it takes or who feel like they don’t yet belong.

Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I decided to teach high school when I started college, and then I taught about the atomic bomb and the students were clearly uninterested. About that time, a history professor at Walla Walla University named Bob Henderson suggested I should think about teaching college. It had never occurred to me that I could succeed in graduate school, let alone teach college students.

What are some of your hobbies?
I like to travel, read, run, spend time with my family, and ride horses.

What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?
I once spent a summer working grounds for a golf course and can (or at least could) drive a tractor, mow greens, mow fairways, and reprimand golfers throwing fits about their drives. I misunderstood my boss once and mowed an entire hill of decorative grass down; he’d been carefully growing the grass for a few seasons and had told me to “go find something to mow.” So, I did.

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?
I love being part of the community of students and faculty at PUC, particularly given the natural setting of the hill.

Name a class (history or otherwise!) you think all PUC students ought to take.
I think all students should take a class in a subject that pushes the boundaries of their own knowledge and perspectives, whatever that class might be. History Methods II (Historiography) is my favorite class to teach in many ways because it does just that.

Education: B.A. in English, B.A. in Spanish from Walla Walla University; M.A. in American Studies from Washington State University; Ph.D. in U.S. History from Washington State University

Professional activities:


New publication (book chapter) in Fall 2018 as part of the Legacies of the Manhattan Project called, “The Atomic Bomb in Censored Print: Newspapers and the Meaning of Nuclear War.”


“‘Will Die for Cause of Imperial Edict:’ Paul Tatsuguchi’s Transnationalism in a Time of War.” Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast 2017 Annual Conference. June, 2017. Salem, Oregon.