Telling Stories: Spanish, English Honors Grad Gets Personal with Stanford University

By Becky St. Clair

As Midori Yoshimura, ’12, stood at the front of Stanford University’s most iconic entrance, watching the then-crown prince and princess of Spain step out of a black vehicle best described as “secure,” she focused on the same thing as many students in Spanish class: “Don’t use the (informal) form of verbs with this group.”

“After studying in Spain for my third year in college, I was very used to addressing almost everyone using the verb conjugation, since I spent most of my time with peers,” Yoshimura says, laughing. “In more formal situations”—such as talking with a more senior family member or VIPs—”you would use the verb conjugation for Usted (Ud.).”

Yoshimura, who graduated summa cum laude with majors in English and Spanish in the Honors Program at PUC, was working as an editorial assistant in Stanford’s Office of University Communications when the royal couple visited the campus. Although Yoshimura was relatively new to the job, her then-boss asked Yoshimura to join her in accompanying the Spanish press delegation traveling with the royal couple, on the off chance the journalists spoke mainly Spanish. (As it turned out, using the form with them was fine.)

Now, Yoshimura works as a digital media associate in Stanford’s Office of University Communications, where she and her colleagues manage the university’s official social media channels and, individually, various units across the campus. Yoshimura handles digital media for the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute.

“Regardless of the topic, sharing insightful research in a way audiences are most likely to connect with, and understand why it matters, is very fulfilling,” Yoshimura says.

In this role, Yoshimura leads strategic and ad campaigns, produces Facebook Live interviews with faculty and students, live tweets events, manages social media communities, and more. One project Yoshimura particularly enjoyed managing was Stanford’s #MeetOurFaculty campaign. In it, she combined her interviews with faculty members with creative photography to highlight the personal stories that inspired them—and the diverse paths that brought them to teach and conduct research at one of world’s top universities.

Yoshimura never imagined her own career path would bring her to Stanford.

“I didn’t even have Instagram in college,” she admits. “The only filters I really paid attention to were the ones on job search websites likes Indeed.com, Glassdoor, etc.—I was pretty worried about finding a job after college. So, I certainly never imagined in a couple of years I’d be sitting in a dim, packed auditorium and tweeting quotes from Bill Nye the Science Guy.”

But what Yoshimura has realized from her career experiences as an assistant editor, freelance writer, and more, is that stories—listening to, writing, and sharing them—have been the driving force.

“Stories, broadly defined, are what shape our perspectives, inspire new ambitions and hopes, and help us better understand one another. And, the stories we tell ourselves can determine our future,” Yoshimura says. “One of the things I love about working in communications is the chance to share stories about topics that affect our lives and those of others—to be better aware of our biases, how our brains work, how we’re taking care of our planet—and to do so in a way that makes these stories most likely to resonate with audiences. I may not be the main character in the plot, but that’s fine. I care more about turning people into an important story in the first place.”

PUC’s Honors Program was a chance for Yoshimura to examine—and rewrite—parts of her own story, including her beliefs and goals.

“The Honors Program was a highlight of my time at PUC,” she says. “The nature of the program is to help you learn how to think and question what you thought before. You learn to defend or criticize your own viewpoints, while discussing questions that have perplexed humanity for centuries.”

Yoshimura continues: “Discussing these topics in a place where it felt safe—where classmates were engaged and not out to disparage each other’s views, made me stronger in my faith, yet more willing to challenge it. My experience at PUC improved my ability to reason and to be constructively critical of myself and my worldview, without demolishing everything I held true or leading me to stubbornly cling to what I simply wanted to believe.”

Aside from the philosophical, there was also the practical: “I learned how to skim,” says Yoshimura with a laugh. “The assigned reading was a heavy lift.”

If you ask Yoshimura what the PUC chapter of her life story looked like, she’d say it was a choose-your-own-adventure, undertaken with the motto: “I don’t know exactly what I want to do, but I’m going to try a bunch of things to figure it out.” The good news, she added, is in five years you can fit in a lot.

What she most recommends to students now is, unsurprisingly, studying a year abroad.

“Time spent in another culture, learning how to live vividly outside your comfort zone, is an empowering experience,” says Yoshimura. “The capacity you develop to adapt to and creatively resolve unfamiliar situations is invaluable. You can add so many new stories to this chapter of your life—and enjoy new opportunities to hear those of others.” And, Yoshimura added, conjugating the formal and informal varieties of verbs gets easier with practice.

16 Questions with Megan Weems

Who better to learn about life at PUC than PUC’s Student Association president! We caught up with last year’s SA president Megan Weems and asked her a few questions about the social life at our college.

For some reason, one of the things we hear from students is “there isn’t anything to do at PUC,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Browse through our Social Life category for just a glimpse into many of the things PUC students are involved in.

Get Ready for Your Best Year Yet!

We’re getting ready for your arrival in just a few weeks in September, and we hope you’re just as excited as we are for the new school year.

We’ll be sending you important updates throughout the summer, so make sure you’re checking your email, or you can talk with your enrollment counselor if you have questions about anything. Call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email enroll@puc.edu to get in touch with a counselor now!

Mark Your Calendar

Sept. 19-23 New Student Orientation
Sept. 24 Instruction begins
Sept. 24-28 Week of Welcome
Sept. 27 Last day to enter or delete courses

For more information, visit the PUC calendar.

What To Work On Now

As an accepted student, there are several important things you should be working on over the summer. For full details about these steps, visit puc.edu/alreadyaccepted.

  1. Pay your enrollment fee & fill out a housing form.
  2. Make financial arrangements.
  3. Register for classes.  
  4. Submit your health forms.
  5. Attend New Student Orientation!

Stay Connected With PUC

Follow PUC on all of our social media outlets to stay updated throughout the summer and for important information to help get you ready for the new school year!

Facebook: facebook.com/pacificunioncollege
Instagram: @PUCNow
Twitter: @PUCNow

Join the Class of 2022 Facebook Group

For all the latest news, make sure you join the Class of 2022 Facebook group and start talking with your future classmates now!

Keep Watching Your Email & Checking the Blog

We’ll be sending you regular updates over the next few weeks, so check your email regularly and be sure to come back here next week, where we’ll share information about the residence halls and what you should plan to bring with you.  

Proactive Learning: PUC Chemistry Grad Researches, Treats Pediatric Oncology

By Becky St. Clair

From the very early years of her childhood, Holly Lindsay knew she wanted to be a doctor.

“I have no idea why I was so sure that’s what I wanted,” she says, thinking back. “I had no chronic health problems, so I wasn’t going to the doctor a lot, and neither of my parents were doctors. But I knew. I just knew.”

Today Holly spends a majority of her time doing research in a lab at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, also doing clinical care in pediatric oncology, specifically dealing with brain tumors in children. In addition, Holly is an assistant professor through Baylor College of Medicine.

“I was drawn to the field of pediatrics in particular because the diseases are so pathophysiological,” she explains. “That is, the kids don’t do anything to cause the problem, something just goes wrong in their bodies.”

Holly’s passions for serving not just the patient but the entire family, as well as for dealing with a variety of situations—inpatient, clinical, very ill, mostly well—led her into oncology. When she shadowed in a pediatric oncology clinic in her first year of medical school, she knew she’d found her calling.

“The amount of hope I encounter on this job is surprising,” says Holly. “I was expecting my field to be constantly emotionally draining, but even in the setting of recurrences and patient death, the hope and strength of the families has surprised and inspired me immensely. This is most definitely the work I wanted and needed to do.”

Holly’s experience at PUC prepared her for medical school in two notable ways.

“First and foremost, it strengthened my Christianity,” says Holly. “I rely heavily on my faith, especially with all the loss I experience in my field.”

Additionally, the smaller class sizes at PUC allowed her to interact closely with her professors, and the one-on-one experience helped her feel comfortable asking questions of her med school professors.

“At bigger schools, you ask other students or your TAs,” she says. “PUC helped me be proactive in my learning.”

Holly works in a lab focused on treating and eliminating pediatric brain tumors. She and other researchers do drug testing, with the end goal of eventually bringing the drugs to clinical trial for kids. One day a week she sees her patients in the clinic.

“Make no mistake: I’m certainly one of those people who get upset over animal experimentation, and I was extremely nervous coming into the world of animal research,” she admits. “But the mice here in our lab get amazing care. The experiments are incredibly humane and if there are any signs of distress they are euthanized immediately. On the flip side, I see the suffering children who need these drugs. The mice are serving a wonderful role to help us bring drugs safely to children.”

Most drug companies have developed products that don’t get into the brain through the bloodstream. This is because the possible side effects there are, to say the least, undesirable and risky. But in order to fight brain tumors, certain drugs are needed in the brain. This is why Holly and her fellow researchers implant tumors in the mice in the same place in the brain where the kids are getting them, as opposed to inserting the tumor into the animal’s leg or other body part. This allows for more accurate testing and experimentation.

Just as much as the other aspects of her work, Holly very much enjoys teaching medical students.

“Teaching allows me, specifically, to preemptively correct things I see wrong with communication in the medical field,” she says. “I give a lecture on the delivery of bad news. For this class, I made a video where I interviewed families and asked them to share what doesn’t go well in medical communication. I very much enjoy finding the next generation of medical providers committed to the patients and families they serve.”

Mentoring is a role to which Holly commits herself just as much as she does to her patients, research, and teaching. She actively engages with her students outside of class, inviting them out for small group get-togethers, working hard to avoid stifling her mentorship in the context of work by interacting in a less formal, social environment.

“In my own life, I have appreciated mentors who don’t hesitate to talk about their mistakes,” she says. “So, when I talk to my students, I highlight my own mistakes and talk about the things I wish I had done better, in an attempt to have them avoid those same errors. I want them to know it’s possible to fail at something and still move forward.”

As most of us know, the medical field isn’t all joy, success, and fulfillment. Death follows most medical practitioners in some way or another, and pediatric oncology is not exempt. The death of children can be particularly painful and difficult, and Holly understands this all too well.

“Everyone deals with the loss of patients differently,” she says. “I find it helpful to go to my patients’ funerals. It’s a good way to show the parents how much our team cares about their children.”

Her experience in the medical field has also given Holly the opportunity to explore her faith from a different perspective.

“One of the things I find most challenging is when I hear people praying for healing,” she admits. “I see so many families deserving of healing and it’s just not always granted. My biggest struggle in this field has been coming to terms with the fact that I don’t have understanding of who is granted cure and who is not. It’s taught me to change the way I pray from ‘please do this specific thing’ to ‘please let me accept your plan for me and to be appreciative even in agony.’ Even in a setting I would do anything to change.”

Holly’s long-term goal is to have her research lead to a clinical trial. Although she is currently writing a clinical trial, she realizes having her work directly impact her patients is still a long time out.

“This is probably a 20-year goal at this point, but I’m slowly transitioning from lab to clinical research,” she says. “The particular tumor I work with sees only about a 30 percent survival rate five years from diagnosis. I really hope to bring that number up over the course of my career.”

In her free time—which she swears she has, despite her long list of responsibilities—Holly enjoys traveling. Most recently she visited Costa Rica. She also volunteers at the Houston Zoo as an animal handler, bringing snakes, armadillos, and other wondrous creatures out into the open to show them to children.

“Despite all the naysayers I heard during medical school saying that this field is ‘too depressing,’ my work is very rewarding, with an immense amount of room for growth,” Holly says. “I encourage anyone considering oncology or any aspect of medicine as a career to have an inquisitive mind and push themselves into opportunities to learn.”

She also encourages science majors to expose themselves to fields outside of science.

“It makes you a much more well-rounded and accessible physician,” she says. “Being able to connect with people is incredibly important in any field, and I have found it crucial in my line of work. Don’t underestimate the power of relationships to serve you well in all aspects of life.”

16 Questions with Floyd Hayes

Are you thinking about studying biology in college? Meet Dr. Floyd Hayes, professor of biology at PUC, and get the inside scoop to life in Clark Hall, home of PUC’s department of biology.

One of the largest departments on campus, the department of biology is home to several other exciting programs, including the Biology Club, one of the most active student-run clubs at PUC. For a behind-the-scenes look at biology at PUC, you can follow the department on Instagram at @pucbiology.

Five Things Accepted Students Can Do Now

With New Student Orientation getting closer, there’s still plenty to do if you’re an accepted student. Here are the five most important things you can do right now to get ready for PUC:

  1. Pay your enrollment fee & fill out a housing form. You will need to pay a $200 enrollment fee before registering for classes, as well as submit a housing form. You can do both at puc.edu/reserve.
  2. Apply for PUC scholarships. If you haven’t already, check out what scholarships PUC offers. There’s still plenty of time to write those essays! See a full list of PUC scholarships at puc.edu/scholarships.
  3. Submit a PUC Financial Aid Application. You will need to submit a PUC Financial Aid Application, which can also be found at puc.edu/reserve. This information, along with your FAFSA, is used by the Student Finance office to put together your financial aid award. Note: If you have 10 minutes, you can use PUC’s net price calculator to get a preliminary estimate of how much aid you may qualify for. Get started now at puc.edu/npc.
  4. Register for classes. You will work with your enrollment counselor to come up with your perfect (or relatively close to perfect!) class schedule. If you aren’t sure what you want to study, let your counselor know and they can put together a sample class schedule for you so you can see what classes you might end up taking in the fall.
  5. Submit your health forms. Turning in your health forms before you get to campus will only make your future life easier. You can find the form at puc.edu/healthservices.
  6. One last thingGet ready for your best year yet! We’ll see you at New Student Orientation on September 19!

If you have any questions while working on these items, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Enrollment office at enroll@puc.edu or through our 800 number at (800) 862-7080, option 2. Our team of counselors is happy to help!

10 Tips for Your First Quarter at PUC

Help make sure this is you graduating in four years! (And yes, those are tortillas!)

If you’re getting ready for your first quarter at PUC, here are 10 suggestions to help make the transition from high school to college as smooth as possible.

Don’t stay in your dorm room

Try your best not to be a hermit and spend all your time in your dorm room. It can be intimidating to go to Student Association events or a Pioneers Athletics game, or just hang out in the Campus Center, but try to get out of your comfort zone a few times and put yourself in places where you might make new friends.

Find your ideal place to study

Research shows studying in different locations can help with your retention of what you’ve studied, so it’s a good idea to find several places you feel you can focus.

Need some ideas of where you can go? Check out our “Great Places to Study on PUC’s Campus” blog post!

Meet with your professors

Make a point of stopping by to visit with your professors during their office hours. Don’t feel as though you’re imposing on them—they’re literally required to have them! Talking with your professors regularly can help them get to know you too, which will also be helpful in a few years when you need a recommendation from them!

Take advantage of on-campus resources

There are some awesome resources available to students at PUC. The Teaching & Learning Center offers free tutoring for most General Education classes and also has a writing lab. The Counseling Center provides students with career counseling, personal counseling, and testing services. Our gymnasium, known officially as Pacific Auditorium but more endearingly called “The Covered Wagon,” also houses a fitness center, weight room, and pool, all of which are free for students to use.

Learn more by reading our “Five Departments Every Student Should Know” blog post!

Talk to people in your classes

It can be scary to walk into a classroom full of people you don’t know, so make an effort to talk to students seated near you. This can have two benefits: you can potentially make more friends, and you can have a buddy to rely on in case one of you misses class and share notes with.

Find ways to get involved

This isn’t to say you should force yourself to do something you aren’t truly interested in, but find your own way of getting involved on-campus. Participate in your weekly dorm worship. Join a small Bible study group. Start a praise band. Think about running for Student Association office or for Student Senate. Join one of the 25 student clubs!

Interested in joining a student club? Learn more by reading our “So Many Clubs, So Little Time!” blog post!

Balance your life

While it’s obviously very important, there’s more to college life than school and homework. A lot of being successful in college is learning how to manage your time and finding the right balance between studying, your social life, and activities to help you relax and destress.

Which leads to the next point …

Develop a routine

Try to develop a routine that works for you, and then do your best to stick to it. Start your morning by studying your Bible or reading a quick worship thought. If you have a break between classes, go for a walk at the track (and bring flashcards if you still need to cram for a quiz!). Make a deal with your friends to have dinner together at the Dining Commons every evening, or at least once a week.

Plan your class schedule wisely

Keep your past history in mind when planning your class schedule with your enrollment counselor. If you’re not a morning person, avoid 8 a.m. classes, if possible. If you struggle with staying focused for long periods of time, maybe don’t sign up for those four credit classes that meet twice a week for two hours! Being aware of what works for you and planning accordingly can only help set you up for future success.

Editor’s note: If you still need to register for classes, or have questions about your schedule, get in touch with your enrollment counselor! Call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email enroll@puc.edu to get connected with a counselor.

Try something new

Lastly, don’t be afraid to try something new. Take an art class. Take a language class. Play an intramurals sport you’ve never played before. By stepping outside of your comfort zone, you’re giving yourself an opportunity to grow and perhaps discover something new that you enjoy.

Your first quarter of college is going to be full of new people and new experiences, but try not to worry or feel overwhelmed as New Student Orientation approaches. You will find your place here at PUC, and develop your own network of friends and support. Get ready for your best year yet!