Being a Resident Assistant at PUC

By Andrew Mahinay

A single key has the power to open every single door in a residence hall. Out of the hundreds of residents living in a dormitory, only nine students wield this key. These individuals are the protectors of the dorm and the eyes and feet of the dean. The keepers of this powerful key are known as resident assistants.

As a current RA, it has been a privilege to serve the needs of residents in Newton Hall, one knock at a time. There is more to an RA then simply owning a key that opens every door. Some students believe an RA’s responsibility is to intrude into another student’s space. This is not the case.

The purpose of an RA is to check up on each resident’s wellbeing. As an RA, I truly care about my residents. I seek to give them praise when praise is called for and when they experience difficult times, I aim to provide them with valuable advice. One of the greatest things I am able to do as an RA is listen to what my residents have to say. Trust has developed as a result of listening to what my residents. One of the most significant connections to have with a resident is trust, since students are more willing to talk to you about their personal problems leading to the opportunity to serve them in the most effective way.    

It is not the role of a resident assistant to judge, but to assist and serve to one’s greatest ability. We are here to love the residents, to walk with them through the lows and highs of college life. Being an RA is no easy task and requires committed individuals who are willing to sacrifice their time in order to be a presence in the lives of their fellow students. “I invest in the lives of my residents and they tell me they are thankful for it,” said Alfredo Larranaga, another RA in Newton Hall.  

The most important responsibility of an RA is to represent Christ through one’s character and words. RA’s are to be great influential role models, with the ideal of showcasing Christ through their actions, thus bringing students closer to God.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1

Dean Hernan Granados with the resident assistants of Newton Hall.

Dean Hernan Granados with the resident assistants of Newton Hall.

Join PUC’s Newest Class: The Innovation Lab


This spring quarter, there’s a new class at PUC, called the Innovation Lab, which takes a unique approach to learning. We asked Dr. John Nunes, chair of the department of business administration and economics, to tell us more about the class and why students should be interested in taking it.

How did the idea for the Innovation Lab class come about?

Last summer, Mark Ishikawa, associate vice president of advancement and strategic partnerships, planned a meeting in the Silicon Valley at Google with PUC alumni who were working in tech in the Bay Area and the idea was sparked by a discussion on entrepreneurship we had with the group in attendance. We felt offering a class with a “shark tank” type competition would create an excellent experience for students and foster engagement on the part of our alumni.

What type of student should take the class?

Really anyone with a creative mindset. They need to be comfortable working with ambiguity (this isn’t a textbook answer class) and enjoy working collaboratively with others who possess complementary skills needed to make their idea a success. Other than that, we don’t care what major or class standing they have.

Why should someone take the class?

This class will simulate “real world” product and service ideation business planning and can be leveraged as effective experience in a for-profit or nonprofit setting.

Tell us about the structure of the class—how often it meets, how the groups are organized, etc.

The class is scheduled to meet on Tuesday and Thursdays from 2-2:50 pm, but will be project vs. lecture based. Students should assemble their own team of three people before the class commences so they can hit the ground running!

What other faculty members are helping with the class? How involved will they be?

Professor Michelle Rai, chair of the department of communication, and professor Milbert Mariano, chair of the department of visual arts, will both play a big role coaching written and visual messaging for the business plans students develop during the class. Depending upon technical requirements of the specific project, Dr. Aimee Wyrick, chair of the department of biology; Dr. Kent Davis, chair of the department of chemistry; Dr. Steve Waters, chair of the department of math, physics, and engineering; and other specialized faculty in other disciplines may be engaged as coaches. It all depends upon the needs of the projects students create.

What can students hope to gain from taking this class?

Regardless of major, almost every student is going to end up working for some sort of business enterprise, even if they are the proprietor. Gaining experience on how to create a new product or service and how to turn it into good currency is a critical skillset. In other words, being able to not just explore, but to exploit ideas to form solutions to make the world better is what this class is all about.

Tell us about the pitch process.

On June 4th, each three-person team will pitch their idea (probably 10-15 minutes each) to a group of venture capitalist and entrepreneur judges. They will evaluate the merits of each group to determine a winner.

What is the grand prize?

The guaranteed grand prize is $1,000 to the group with the best pitch. However, based upon merit, other prize money or seed money for the enterprise may be earned. It is even possible an incubator may be created on campus for a group that wishes to execute their business locally with free space for one year. However, only the $1,000 prize is guaranteed for winners.

Interested in signing up to take the Innovation Lab class? Stop by Irwin Hall to talk with Dr. Nunes during his office hours or email

Recent business graduate Michael Lawrence talks with Dr. John Nunes in the department of business.

Recent business graduate Michael Lawrence talks with Dr. John Nunes in the department of business.

My PUC Story: Alice Chen

By Andrea James

Alice Chen is a junior and business major at PUC. When she was little, she used to help with her mother’s business—people loved her and her cute smile. Alice loves business because “I get to serve people and get the satisfaction from helping customers.” She believes that everything is related to business. “No matter what you become, you’re going to always have to deal with money, so business is a life skill I think everyone should have and I want to focus on.”


Alice Chen at PUC’s Albion Retreat & Learning Center

Alice Chen transferred to PUC as a sophomore from China. Her family is Seventh-day Adventist and her brother attended the school first. He then recommended it to Alice because of her fervent belief in Adventism and her strong faith in God. She has become a very active member of the PUC community. For example, she’s the president of the Asian Student Association (ASA) and a member of the Student Senate. She recently tried to start up a new club celebrating multiculturalism. She also plays tennis, runs, and sometimes plays intramurals. How does she balance all of her responsibilities, all of the demands on her time?

She says, “I pray a lot … I try to do what I can do and take it one step at a time every day. I learned recently I should live in the moment and not look back at the past or worry about the future but enjoy what I have today … When you see everything all at once and what you have to do, it can be very overwhelming sometimes. Try to do as much as you can and give the rest to God.” She also exercises and tries to take care of herself as part of having a balanced life.

Alice enjoys the events at PUC and the many opportunities for service in the community. For example, she attended FUSION, a retreat for freshmen held during New Student Orientation in the fall despite transferring to PUC as a sophomore and greatly enjoyed it. She met many other Graf Hall residents at the event and generally got to know her fellow students. She also likes that there are mission and volunteer opportunities to help students not only grow academically but also as a person and a Christian.

The people at PUC have made a particular impression on Alice’s life and her PUC experience. Her friends at PUC became her family and her teachers became her mentors. When she was feeling the most down about herself, one professor told her not to focus on the big picture or overthink everything, but rather to break things apart into smaller, more manageable pieces. They recommended Alice “just do whatever you can, at this moment, today.” The speech resonated with her and helped her a lot. In the course of her time at PUC, Alice has gained a lot of confidence and become better able to handle stress and to destress.

“I know that I myself can be courageous. And I can be strong, as well, when I rely on God,” she says.

PUC Celebrates Black History Month

Pacific Union College has always been committed to diversity. Today, in celebration of Black History Month, we are honoring a few of the college’s many accomplished black African-American alumni.

Charles Kinney

Charles Kinney

Charles Kinney
Born a slave in 1855, Charles Kinney moved west and became an Adventist in 1878. Sponsors paid for him to study theology at Healdsburg College (1883-1885), now known as Pacific Union College. Kinney later became the first ordained black Seventh-day Adventist minister. He established regional conferences and oversaw much of the Church’s growth. When he joined the Church, there were only about 50 African-American Adventists. At the time of his death, there were over 25,000.


Frank L. Peterson

Frank L. Peterson
Frank L. Peterson, class of 1916, was the first African-American student to graduate from PUC. His long career of service began with teaching at Oakwood College (now University) and pastoring, but he quickly advanced. Peterson served for nine years as the president of Oakwood, and in the 1960s, became a vice president at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Arna Bontemps

Arna Bontemps

Arna Bontemps
Before he became a friend of Langston Hughes and a respected poet and novelist in the Harlem Renaissance, Arna Bontemps graduated from PUC in 1923. Bontemps studied English at PUC, and he also wrote for the Campus Chronicle, the college’s student newspaper. He is now best known for his novel Black Thunder, which tells the story of an 1800 Virginia slave rebellion. The Nelson Memorial Library at PUC owns a signed copy of this and other Bontemps works.

M. Inez Booth

M. Inez Booth

M. Inez Booth
Mary Inez Booth studied music at PUC and graduated in 1937. During her junior year, she was baptized into the Adventist Church. Booth’s dedication to her faith took precedence in all she did. She spent her career teaching music at Oakwood and she also founded the Oakwood Jail Band Ministry, which she led for 50 years. In 1983, she became a sheriff’s deputy, an honorary post she held until she was 90-years-old.

Ruth Frazier Stafford

Ruth Frazier Stafford

Ruth Frazier Stafford
When she graduated from PUC in 1938, Ruth Stafford didn’t know her nursing degree would take her all over the United States. Stafford served in hospitals from southern California to Chicago to Tennessee. She wrote a regular column for Message Magazine and taught nursing classes at Oakwood. While she earned a master’s degree from Columbia University, Stafford coordinated the nursing program for Meharry Medical Center.


Will Battles & Paul Cobb
Will Battles, Paul Cobb, and two other PUC students drove 2,400 miles from Oakland to Selma, Ala., to march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on March 21, 1965. Cobb,class of 1965, convinced three of his PUC classmates to come along in his two-seater car. In this photo by Al Loeb, Battles (wearing a fedora) and Cobb (pencil behind his ear) are seated behind Dr. King as the marchers rest in a grassy area between Selma and Montgomery. You can read more about their amazing story in “A Journey and a March,” in a 2005 issue of the Adventist Review.

Photographs and information courtesy of the Nelson Memorial Library at Pacific Union College.

Five Reasons You Need the PUC Mobile App

unknownDid you know PUC has its own mobile app? It’s true!

The PUC mobile app is available on both iOs and Android.

While there are many great things about the app, such as quick links to the college’s social media accounts, blog, videos, and more, here are just five reasons why you should download the PUC mobile app to help make student life easier at PUC.

1. Stay up-to-date with PUC news articles. If you find yourself not knowing what’s happening on campus, look no further than the news section of the PUC mobile app. Here you can quickly browse through news articles as well as search the archives (as far back as 1996).

2. Use the PUC calendar to know what’s happening on campus. While certainly not a comprehensive list, the PUC calendar is a great place to look to see what events are planned on campus. You can even add events to your iPhone calendar and be alerted when they are coming up. If you’re planning an event at PUC and would like it to be added to the calendar, email

3. Check out the PUC cafe menu to see what’s for lunch. I will readily admit this is the section I click to the most on the app: the daily menu for what’s being served at the Dining Commons.

4. Search the PUC directory for faculty and staff contact information. Need to reach someone on campus, but aren’t sure how to contact them? Search the people directory on the PUC mobile app, which includes both faculty and staff. You can call or email them from the app as well.

5. Browse the PUC Library catalog. Whether you’re looking for a book to use as a source for that term paper or simply something for fun, you can browse through the college library catalog directly from the app.

Need help? The PUC mobile app also has a contact section where you can submit a question for a PUC representative to get back to you.

The Pre-Law Society at PUC

By Andrew Mahinay

If you ever want to be apart of something bigger than yourself, join a campus club.

Pacific Union College offers a broad range of clubs available to all students. On one side of the spectrum, you have social clubs, such as the Student Organization of Latinos (SOL) and the Korean Adventist Student Association (KASA), and on the other, academic clubs such as the Chemistry Club or Pre-law Society. Getting involved with either type of clubs is a great way to strengthen your network and share advice with other students. This article covers the purposes of joining the Pre-Law Society.

The two faculty sponsors of the Pre-Law Society are Dr. Howard Munson, associate professor of history, and Abram Fisher, assistant professor of business administration. Currently, the Pre-Law Society has an average of 15 to 20 members. The majority of members range from first year freshman to second year sophomores. There is a single senior, which consists of myself.

As the president of the Pre-Law Society, it is my job to facilitate a learning environment amongst all members of the society. The purpose of the Pre-Law Society is to inform faculty, staff, and students that there is a pre-law community that exists on campus and works to offer students guidance in the process leading up to law school and advice that can help them in their LSAT preparation. Having just taken the LSAT this year, I have learned valuable insights that will help students tackle and overcome the daunting LSAT. Examples of tips include indicating isolated question types in practice tests and pinpointing practice sections that include specific game types. (Editor’s note: You can also read Andrew’s blog post “Study Tips for Graduate School Admissions Tests” for more ideas.)

Another aspect the Pre-Law Society has to offer is a network of practicing attorneys who are willing to answer questions students have concerning law school. In addition to answering questions, they also provide students with tips. The Pre-Law Society recently featured PUC alumnus Brittany Cheney, who graduated at the top of her UC Davis School of Law class in 2012. She shared with students one of the most important characteristics to have in law school is competitiveness.

The Pre-Law Society also works as a support system. Pre-law is not a dominant field at PUC, and it is imperative students know they are not alone and there is a community of other pre-law majors on campus. It is the hope of the Pre-Law Society to ensure all members feel empowered to do their absolute best in their academic endeavors and to encourage students to strive for excellence.

If you are endeavoring to become an attorney, or contemplating whether pre-law is right for you, or just want to hang out with awesome people, feel free to join the Pre-Law Society!

Study Tips for Graduate School Admissions Tests

By Andrew Mahinay

Studying for graduate school admissions test is no walk in the park.

If you are interested in graduate programs such as medical, dental, or law, you are eventually going to have to take an admissions test. Medical school requires students take the MCAT. Dental school requires the DAT. Law school requires the LSAT. These admissions test differ in subject, but they all have one common factor: you MUST study for them if you want to be accepted into graduate school.

As mentioned, the LSAT differs from the MCAT and DAT in various ways. The LSAT is composed of logical reasoning, which tests the applicant’s ability to critically analyze long and short passages, while the MCAT/DAT are more subject driven.

Although these tests differ in subject matter, studying for them is quite similar.

I spent last summer studying for the LSAT. Before opening the study materials, I knew the LSAT score would weigh heavily on my chances of being accepted into law school. It was crucial for me to get a competitive score. The highest score for the LSAT is 180 and a 165 is extremely competitive. Knowing this, I sacrificed my entire summer to study almost everyday for prolonged periods of time.  

In the future, whether you study for the MCAT, DAT, or LSAT, it is imperative you know the following:

First, dedication and motivation are key to overcoming any test. Make sure you create a game plan. Make sure you dedicate hours of your day to focus on your studies. Implement a study schedule that fits your studying personality, so you don’t get burned out. I would study from 12-4 p.m., take a break from 4-5 p.m., and then finish off the day studying from 5-9 p.m. In addition to dedicating time, remind yourself of why you are studying for the test. Is it to help cure people of cancer? Is it to repair broken jaws? Is it to protect people from injustice? Make your motivation known.

Second, living a balanced lifestyle is of utter importance. After studying from Sunday to Friday, I would take Sabbath off to relax and recharge. You want to make sure you take plenty of breaks. When on break, I strongly recommend you do some sort of exercise to boosts confidence levels, which has a direct effect on test performance. Other options include watching a movie with family, getting a coffee with a friend, exploring a city close by. Whatever the activity, make sure it has nothing to do with the test.

Lastly, and the most important of all these tips, is to trust in God. As a student, there is only so much you can do. There are only so many practice questions you can go over. There are only so many hours in a day you can dedicate to study.

However, as students, what we can do is apply ourselves through dedication, to find motivation to wake up every morning to study, and to live a well-rounded lifestyle. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to do your part and to rely on God that He will do his.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6