Service-Minded PUC Students Give Back to the Community

PUC is blessed with a campus full of service minded students who actively participate in the college’s service-learning program. The goal of the program is to deepen students’ understanding of the academic material they learn in the classroom by applying their learning to real life. Students develop collaborative relationships with community groups such as the Veterans Home of California – Yountville, the Napa County Land Trust, the Lake County Continuum of Care, the Berryessa Bureau of Reclamation, and the Boys and Girls Club in St. Helena. Students’ critical thinking skills are enhanced through the practical application of skills and theories learned in the classroom. Though their values and beliefs may be challenged by engagement in their community, PUC’s faculty and staff remain committed to supporting students’ spiritual development and encourage students to process their learning experiences through creative assignments such as group presentations, journaling questions, and classroom discussions.

Here are just a few of the community outreach projects PUC students have participated in during recent months.

Berryessa Bureau of Reclamation
Students work at Lake Berryessa to plant native blue oak trees around the visitor’s center.

Citizenship Legal Services
Psychology and social work students are trained by coordinators and attorneys from the Citizenship Legal Service partnership to help residents with green cards apply for citizenship. Approximately 50 students have been trained in an effort to help staff the monthly workshops held throughout the Napa Valley.

MLK Monday
Each year, Napa’s MLK Monday Coalition puts together activities, volunteer options, and discussion groups in a day of “action and compassion” throughout the Napa Valley. Students from a variety of courses dialogue about MLK’s letter from Birmingham jail, view documentaries relevant to coursework and participate in discussions, and help clean up the Martha Walker Native Habitat Garden.

Napa Co. Land Trust: Pope Valley
Students from Conservation Biology courses put their knowledge to use clearing invasive species from around valley oak saplings, enabling them to thrive in beautiful Pope Valley.

Point in Time Count (Lake County) 2017 & 2018
Students from Statistical Methods learn about the faces behind the numbers when they administer the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) survey to people experiencing homelessness. Human Behavior and the Social Environment students learn about causes and effects of homelessness while they practice administering an assessment to clients.

My Year Studying Abroad in Spain

By Stefaan Dick

My name is Stefaan and I spent last year studying abroad in Spain, through the Adventist Colleges Abroad program at the Escuela Superior de Español de Sagunto (ESDES). As a photography major with a love for sharing the world around me, I’ve been asked to share some of my adventures here on PUC’s Admissions blog, for anyone interested in the ACA program. Here are 11 of the most representative shots from my year in Europe. To see more of my favorite photos, visit

Mountain biking from the Norwegian highlands down to the end of a fjord.

Cliff jumping on the school camp meeting weekend in Central Spain.

Abandoned wreckage on a black sand beach in Iceland.

Sunset over the small coastal town of Rovinj, Croatia.

Riding camels on the school trip to Morocco.

Reppin’ PUC above the most powerful waterfall in Europe in Northern Iceland.

Wandering through the April tulip fields near Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Camping in the hills above the ACA campus in Sagunto, Spain.

One of the top 10 lunch spots in the UK in the dunes near Bamburgh Castle in England.

Group photo of ESDES (the ACA program in Spain) on top of the Miguelete in Valencia, Spain.

Students on a school trip and locals passing by in the square underneath the great aqueduct in Segovia, Spain.

A Conversation with Dr. Kent Davis, PUC’s 2017 Educator of the Year

On April 27, 2017,  the PUC Church sanctuary was packed full of students, faculty, and staff, all excitedly awaiting the announcement of PUC’s next student-selected Educator of the Year. As PUC tradition states, the winner is a tightly kept secret known only to a few people on campus and is announced at the annual Educator of the Year Colloquy.

When Dr. Kent Davis’ name was announced, there was loud and extended applause for the ever popular chemistry professor and department chair. As he sat in the seat of honor on the platform, the audience was treated to funny stories from his wife Rachelle Davis, a fellow PUC faculty member in the department of music, and touching stories from a few close students.

Not everyone has the privilege of taking classes from Dr. Davis, so we asked him a few questions to get better acquainted with the man behind the 2017 PUC Educator of the Year award.

Describe your typical work day.
I generally arrive at my office around 8 a.m. I make final preparations for my class at 9 and then go teach it. Afterwards I talk with students, make assignments covering the material from class, do other administrative tasks, or just relax for a bit. I often spend the noon hour in wind ensemble or chorale rehearsal before going back the chemistry offices to get ready to supervise labs for the afternoon.

When you were younger, what was your dream job? Is teaching similar?
I don’t know if I had a “dream” job, at least after the firefighter, astronaut, zookeeper, etc., stage of early childhood. I started college as an engineering major and switched to chemistry after my first year. My 20-year-old self would be horrified at the idea of standing in front of people and speaking out loud for a living. So no, teaching is, in that way at least, about as far from what I would have expected as possible.

How did you end up teaching chemistry at PUC?
My wife, Rachelle, was teaching music at Washington Adventist University (then Columbia Union College) and I was teaching as an adjunct professor at a Catholic women;s college in DC. The position in chemistry at PUC opened with the likelihood of a soon to open position in music and we decided to come to PUC.

Tell us about your family.
My wife, Rachelle, is a violinist who teaches in (and chairs) the department of music at PUC. Our elder son, Ethan, is a freshman at PUC Prep and our younger son, Benjamin, is a fifth grader at PUC Elementary. We have two dogs, Sammy and Gigi.

We hear you love to bake. What is the most delicious thing you’ve ever made?
I’m fairly critical of anything I bake so I don’t think I’d apply terms like ‘most delicious’ to things I made but I make a pretty good loaf of bread. We got a bread maker as a wedding present and I started there but soon got into sourdough. I’ve had my sourdough starter for about 20 years now. I feed and water it daily kind of like a pet (that I plan to eat). The sourdough experience has led me to explore other uses of bacteria/yeast cultures in food like cheesemaking. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert and many cheeses need to age for several months which makes experimenting difficult. But a nice dollop of fresh homemade goat cheese on a slice of freshly baked sourdough is quite enjoyable.

What are your other hobbies?
In another twist my 20-year-old self would be surprised to learn, since coming to PUC I have become a runner. In 2016 I ran over 1,000 miles and in 2017 I have run about 800 miles so far. The trails in PUC’s forest, the adjoining state forest, and the ridge between Angwin and Calistoga are great. I try to be out there around dawn, when I think it’s at its most beautiful. I also enjoy traveling. I’ve visited all 50 states and, in the last few years, I’ve been in Sweden, Costa Rica, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Taiwan.

What was the last book you read?
“Big Chicken” by Maryn McKenna is about how antibiotics changed agriculture and the way we eat. I just finished reading “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown to my sons. Currently I’m reading “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance and “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer (inspired by “Big Chicken”). I don’t usually give a lot of thought to what mix of books I read at once but it surprises me a bit that none of these recent selections are fiction.

From left to right: Dr. Eric Anderson, former PUC president; Dr. Kent Davis; and Dr. Nancy Lecourt, PUC academic dean

What does it mean to you to be named the 2017 Educator of the Year?
I very much enjoy teaching so it is its own reward, but it’s very nice to hear from others that they think you’re doing a good job. On the one hand, I think since I’m Educator of the Year I better show why by being better at the parts of teaching I hate (like grading). On the other hand, I feel a little freedom to experiment more with my teaching (as in can I teach physical chemistry without lecturing).

What is your favorite thing about teaching?
Seeing my students grow and learn and become successful is very satisfying. Talking about hard problems and seeing students struggle (along with me) and gradually catch on is also a lot of fun.

What is your favorite thing about PUC?
The location. I run in the forest and along mountain ridges almost daily. I walk to work every day. Most people at PUC live close by so  it’s a real community in a way most other places I’ve worked have not been.

Why should someone choose to study chemistry at PUC?
We have a long history of students having success in achieving their goals. If you do well in chemistry (or the sciences in general) at PUC, you will be well situated to do well in medical school, dental school, pharmacy, or doing study in science at a higher level.

You knew it was coming—is PUC the best school to study at to get into Loma Linda medical school?
To get into any medical school requires dedication to study, ability to avoid of distraction, capable and available teachers, and a culture among your classmates that supports excellence. I think PUC has that. Of course, students who find these less important than the ease of getting to Taco Bell or luxury living accommodations probably may not be PUC material but those values suggest they might not be getting into medical school anyway.

Students, keep an eye on your PUC email inbox! Soon you will receive information about how to nominate a professor for the 2018 Educator of the Year award.

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

Seeing the East Coast with the PUC Department of History

By Marielle Gutierrez

As a recently graduated history major from Pacific Union College, I can say I spent a lot of time in Irwin Hall. As a student, I sat through many interesting class periods where professors not only gave thought-provoking lectures, but also encouraged students to use critical thinking and problem solving skills. Learning history in a classroom setting is great, but it is even better when you are able to visit the many different places you read about in an assigned reading, or researched for your next paper. Visiting historical locations makes the past more real and accessible. Thankfully, the department of history at PUC offers students the chance to experience history through travel.

This past summer the history tour went to the East Coast. All who participated on the tour had the opportunity to visit Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Each location showcased an obvious mix between the past and present. Despite this common factor, each location managed to offer something unique to me. Boston provided a clear visual of our nation’s beginnings with all of its historical sites. New York offered us the opportunity to see the roots of our country’s diversity, while Philadelphia proudly displayed themes of our country’s foundational beliefs—liberty and freedom. Last but not least, Washington, D.C., was a memorial of thanks to the many brave people who sacrificed everything so their country could flourish.

I enjoyed the history tour so much because I was able to fulfill my dream of visiting these famous cities that played an important role in founding the United States. I also enjoyed the tour because I was able to form friendships with other PUC students who I previously never had the chance to meet, or initially did not know very well. By the end of the tour numerous inside jokes were formed during evening homework sessions and various means of keeping in contact were created. They honestly became family.

I will always remember this trip as one of my best college memories, and for that, I am so thankful for the PUC department of history because they provided me with this once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you ever have the opportunity go on this tour; take it! You will not regret it.

Five Academic Departments at PUC You Should Know

There are over 70 different majors at PUC, which offers students plenty of options to choose from. Some of our more popular and unique departments include nursing & health sciences, biology, visual arts, aviation and education, which is a nice mix making PUC a true liberal arts college. Read on for a few fast facts about these departments!

Nursing & Health Sciences

The department of nursing and health sciences is home to the emergency services program, as well as our AS and BSN nursing degrees, which are some of the most popular at PUC.

  • We talked with PUC’s pre-nursing advisor to cover some frequently asked questions about the program. Curious if a BSN is necessary in today’s workforce? Give this blog post a read.
  • PUC offers a two year degree in health sciences for students planning on continuing on to Loma Linda University for programs such as pre-clinical laboratory science, pre-dental hygiene, pre-radiation science, and several others.


Interested in gaining some real world research experience? Look no further than the department of biology, where students conduct experiments for research projects and internships on an almost daily basis. Browse through these blog posts about student research opportunities at PUC.

  • PUC biology students have uniquely high acceptance rates to top-notch medical and dental schools like Loma Linda University.
  • There’s more than one way and one place to learn. The department teaches classes on the Mendocino Coast at the college’s Albion Retreat & Learning Center, and students have traveled as far away as Brazil for tropical biology courses.

Visual Arts

For a behind the scenes look at one of PUC’s most exciting departments, check out the department of visual arts’ Instagram.

  • PUC film students have completed internships at DreamWorks Animation, Sofia and Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope film studio, Pixar and HBO.
  • With San Francisco just an hour a 20 minutes away, visual arts students often visit museums in the city, including the SF Museum of Modern Art, the de Young Museum, & the Palace of Legion of Honor.


The sky’s the limit in PUC’s department of aviation!

  • PUC is one of only two liberal arts colleges in California to offer a degree in aviation.
  • There are many different career paths aviation students can pursue, including aerial photography, airline pilot, air traffic controller, fire fighting, and more. Read one PUC graduate’s story of how an aviation degree took him to new heights in this blog post.


PUC’s $3,000 renewable Adventist Mission Scholarship is available to students actively pursuing a teaching credential for elementary or secondary education.

  • The department of education assists graduates with job placement through events like the Education Days banquet and interviews, where prospective employers from the local conference and throughout the Pacific Union meet with students.
  • Learn how you can tailor an education degree to fit your future career aspirations by reading about this recent graduate’s experience in this blog post.

For more information about all of PUC’s degree programs and how they can help you reach your educational and professional goals, we invite you to talk with an enrollment counselor in the enrollment services office. Email or call (800) 862-7080, option 2 today.

Why You Should Study Math and Why You Should Do It At PUC

Dr. Steve Waters has taught at PUC for 35 years, many of which he served as chair for the department of mathematics. We asked Dr. Waters to share some of his thoughts about studying mathematics, and the advantages of studying it at PUC. This is what he had to say.

Should you study mathematics in college?

The answer is a definite “yes!” if any of the following descriptions apply to you. 

  • You are fascinated by patterns—seeing how things fit together and discovering connections between seemingly very different things.
  • You love knowing why, not just how.
  • You see beauty in carefully crafted and refined ideas.
  • You enjoy finding new perspectives that change apparently hard problems into easy ones.
  • You find satisfaction in sticking with a hard problem until the thrill of a solution presents itself.

But what can you do with a mathematics degree?

The first thing that comes to mind for many people when asked this question is working as a teacher in elementary schools, high schools, and colleges. While it is true that there is a great demand for qualified mathematics teachers at all levels, and that these can be very rewarding careers, only a small fraction of people with mathematical training actually work in the teaching profession. Qualified mathematical thinkers are sought throughout government and industry to help teams make sense of data, design new products, create forecasts—work on anything involving pattern recognition and analysis. These teams often involve a fusion of computer science, engineering, psychology, marketing, communication, and many other areas, so mathematicians are always learning new things and exploring new ideas.

So what do mathematicians actually do?

I’ll let Keith Devlin (NPR’s “Math Guy”) answer this:

“What the mathematician does is examine abstract “patterns”—numerical patterns, patterns of shape, patterns of motion, patterns of behavior, voting patterns in a population, patterns of repeating chance events, and so on. Those patterns can be either real or imagined, visual or mental, static or dynamic, qualitative or quantitative, purely utilitarian or of little more than recreational interest. They can arise from the world around us, from the depths of space and time, or from the workings of the human mind. Different kinds of patterns give rise to different branches of mathematics.”

It’s worth noting very little in the description has to do with “arithmetic.” Mathematical studies open up a whole world of critical and creative thought far beyond the ideas of elementary-school number manipulation.

Knowing that mathematics provides a way to work with fascinating ideas and people, make a real difference in the world, and get paid for it!, why should you study the subject at Pacific Union College?

The short answer is PUC is a Seventh-day Adventist college with mathematics teachers who are dedicated to your success. Your classes will not be taught by graduate students, but by professors whose primary focus is on teaching. In addition to excellent classes, you will also have opportunities to do research with your professors—many of our students have presented work at national and international conferences, and had papers published in prestigious journals.

The department of mathematics, along with physics & engineering, works hard to create a family feel that welcomes all students, regardless of their backgrounds. Your teachers will quickly become your friends and mentors as you work and talk with them in their offices, as well as in the classrooms, across campus, and in their homes. Perhaps best of all, PUC gives you the opportunity to commune with God’s nature, with hundreds of acres of forest preserve filled with hiking and biking trails. It is truly a place “where nature and revelation unite in education.” We’re ready to welcome you into the family.

To learn more about studying math at PUC, visit our Admissions website or call (800) 862-7080 to talk with an enrollment counselor today!