Alumni Profile: Manny Peralta

Meet Manny Peralta, who graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies. Manny also completed an associate degree in graphic design in 2017, and currently works at the California Department of Food and Agriculture as an agricultural technician.

We talked with Manny and asked him to share about his senior thesis, “Wildflowers of PUC,” a guidebook he created that features flowers found on the college’s property.

Tell us about your “Wildflowers of PUC” project. What was the inspiration for it?

Most of my inspiration came from my constant exploration while hiking or biking out in the back 40 while I was a student at PUC.

How long did it take you to complete the book?

The project took me about seven months to complete. Most of the time was spent researching, identifying plants, editing photos, and designing the book’s layout.

What was your favorite flower that you photographed? Why was it your favorite?

My favorite flower that I photographed was Mimulus angustatus (pg. 82). I came across it while biking one day. I wasn’t expecting to find any flowers that day since it was early in the season. As soon as I saw it, I nearly fell off my bike trying to avoid riding over it, ruining my chances of photographing it. This is a flower I would come back to over and over to see how it was doing. Every time I would find more and more of the same kind.

What did you learn about yourself during the project?

I guess one thing I learned about myself was how much I can handle without breaking down from stress. I was able to manage my time wisely to balance going to class and doing homework while planning enough time to go out and explore the back 40 for hours on end.

We’ve heard there are plans for a second book. What are you planning to include this time around?

My second book idea is a bit ambitious but I believe it can be done. I have been planning to work with different national parks to be able to put together a comprehensive flower guide book to California. This is still in the developmental stage of  figuring out all the logistics and trying to put together a team and a group of sponsors that will be able to help me achieve this project.

What’s your typical workday like?

I’m currently working for the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture as an agricultural technician. A work day for me begins early in the morning around 6:30 a.m. and ends around 5 p.m. Each day I have a route that contains a variety of fruit fly traps I have to service and relocate onto different fruit trees. Some of the fruit flies that we trap are the oriental fruit fly, the Mexican fruit fly (mex-fly), melon fruit fly, and the infamous Mediterranean fruit fly, commonly known as the medfly. Many people might remember the early days when the state would implement radical solution like spraying pesticides over large residential areas in order to control the medfly. Besides monitoring traps I also interact with different homeowners to educate them about the different traps we place on their trees and the negative effects these flies have on our agriculture.

What are your hobbies?

Some of the more consistent activities I do are hiking and cycling, but I have recently started getting into rock climbing as well.

What is the most important thing you learned during your time at PUC?

I have to say the most important thing I learned was that with God, anything is possible.

Editor’s note: PUC is on a quest to permanently protect, preserve, and manage over 850 acres of the college’s forestland by purchasing a conservation easement. The PUC Forest Fund was created to help raise money for the easement, and if you feel compelled to donate, please visit  puc.edu/give.

From PUC to the Friendly Skies

We asked Matthew Gheen, ’98, who currently works as an airline pilot for United Airlines, to share about his experience at PUC and his journey from tragedy to success.

How a forest fire changed my path…
I started college in August 1992, at Shasta College in Redding, Calif. That same evening, a large forest fire started and burned down our family home, along with almost 400 hundred other homes. I did not return to class the next day and instead, over the course of the next three months, helped my family pick up the pieces and get back on their feet. It was during this time, I started to re-think my decision to attend Shasta College. I was invited to visit some friends of mine who were attending PUC. While there, I met Dr. Russell Laird, head of the department of industrial technology and Reinhard Jarschke, the director of the flight school. These conversations changed my decision (they were so convincing) and I decided God wanted me to go to PUC. I signed up right away and started in January 1993.

I chose industrial technology and management with an emphasis in aviation as my degree. My experience in construction and mechanical things led me to this degree, but my true passion was with the emphasis in aviation. It was the department of aviation that excited me the most. I wanted to fly for a living.

Financially, however, it wasn’t easy. As I look back, I realize God was always there, but I had to work hard, working about 30 hours per week in-between classes, making sure I always had summer jobs, and applying for school loans each year. I even had to pause flying for a while to focus on school but was able to resume after four years, in order to complete the classes I needed and graduate with an aviation emphasis.

PUC’s foundational emphasis on God allowed me to keep a close relationship with Him while I was there. The opportunities for academic growth and character development are also a big reason why it is such a wonderful school.

What I am most thankful for…
As I think back, I am most thankful God led me to my wife, Melissa. In October 1993, I went on a PUC Business Club camping trip to Yosemite Valley and expected to hang out with my two close friends that weekend. Melissa and I were in the group that chose to hike Half Dome and I noticed her at the start of the hike. We ended up talking along the way and throughout the remainder of the year, we dated. I found out later that although she is scared of heights, she forced herself to climb the last part up the face of the rock to the top of Half Dome, just to impress me. She still continues to impress me to this day. We are just about to celebrate 21 years of marriage and have two daughters who are excited about attending PUC when the time comes.

Matt and his wife Melissa in an airplane at PUC.

Where flying has taken me…
After college, I started accumulating hours by flight instructing. I then flew freight and had just landed when the 9/11 tragedy rocked the world. This unfortunate event, along with the recession a few years later, brought commercial aviation to its knees. This time period is often referred to as the “lost decade” in the pilot world because there was very little movement for most pilots. I intended, after PUC, to fly for a commercial airline but instead found myself flying for an air ambulance fixed-wing company. This job was extremely rewarding; it brought a chance for me to see the first responders at their best, and to give people, at their most vulnerable point, a fighting chance to live. I believe God lead me to this position and am so grateful to have had this type of experience.

I flew air ambulance for seven years. During this time, the regional airlines (the small commercial airline carriers) started to pick up hiring. (The major airlines were still not hiring very much and some still had thousands of pilots on furlough.) In order to be more competitive for the major airlines, I chose to start applying for a regional airline job. Flying at a regional level was going to take a huge financial sacrifice but it would give me some additional experience the major airlines would likely want to see, considering the competitiveness of the industry.

We took on a cross country move and was at a regional airline for two years. We then spent a short stint at a low cost carrier and God, to our excitement, landed us a major airline job. In fact, we had multiple offers, multiple doors were opened, and we were faced with a big decision. Truly, a tough but a good position to be in.

As we all face our journeys, it is important to realize how our foundation in God is so key. There’s twists and turns along the way, but God always has a plan. God is always there leading.

A recent photo of Matt in his “office.”

This entire road began at PUC. I credit the college for:
Helping further solidify my Seventh-day Adventist religious beliefs,
Starting my path in aviation,
Placing me in an environment of similarly-minded religious individuals,
Giving me the opportunity to meet my wife and best friend,
Many friends,
4 ½ wonderful years with many fond memories, and
Expanding my horizons.

Every time I fly into San Francisco International Airport and we arrive from the north, I am looking down out the window for PUC. On those clear days when I do see the campus on the hill and the little runway in the trees, it brings back such a rush of memories. I had so many great times in the short years I was there.

Thank you PUC!
Matt Gheen

Matt and his beautiful family on a recent family vacation.

Alumni Profile: Kyle Lemmon

Meet Kyle Lemmon, who graduated in 2007 with a public relations and journalism degree and currently works as the marketing manager at Psyonix, a video game development studio based in San Diego, Calif. We talked with Kyle and asked him to share about his day to day life at the studio and how PUC helped give him the tools he needed to become successful.

Tell us about yourself.

I’ve been a gamer ever since the Nintendo days and always wanted to work at a game studio I admired. I live in Vista, Calif., with my college sweetheart, Brooke (we met at PUC), and two fiercely independent daughters, Arden and Ava.

I started writing about TV, film, indie rock music, and video games as a journalist during college, before transitioning to qualitative video game market research at EEDAR (Electronic Entertainment Design and Research). I then finally made a move to Psyonix as the Marketing Manager for the Sports-Action hit, Rocket League, and have been there ever since. You can find us on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam (PC)!

What was your major at PUC?

I was a public relations and journalism major at PUC and graduated in 2007.

Describe your typical workday.

I oversee the Creative Services and general Marketing department alongside our VP of Publishing, Jeremy Dunham. A typical workday can range from talking to current and prospective licensees to working on setting up sales and various promotions on the PlayStation, Xbox One, and Steam storefronts. I also work alongside our PR, Production, Design, and Community teams to announce new game modes, general updates, and downloadable content for Rocket League since we like to put our community first and consistently expand on our game to give them new content to play. If you haven’t heard of Rocket League before you should check it out! It’s essentially rocket-boosted cars playing soccer and there’s a huge competitive esports scene as well. Here’s one of our latest trailers for two awesome Hot Wheels DLC Battle-Cars!

What is the most enjoyable part of your job? The most challenging?

Solid questions! The most enjoyable part of my job is no day or week is the same. I could be working to promote an outer-space-themed update like Starbase ARC one month and switch over to working on new licensed merchandise and toys with our partners the following week. I really love the wide variety of work and people I get to interact with here at Psyonix!

On the challenging side of things, I would say game development does come with some amount of work outside of the usual office hours and building out a small team has certainly been difficult, but highly rewarding at the same time. It’s nice to look around a room and see things changing and we all support each other, too. Our growing community of over 29 million players definitely inspires me to improve and aspire for bigger and better things.

How did your time at PUC help prepare you for your career?

My time at PUC prepared me for tight deadlines, which definitely come up in the video game industry. Sometimes you have to adjust on the fly and find another plan with a team when things change midstream. That was one of the key things I gleaned from college aside from the usual best practices for writing and communication. My Communication professors prepared me for my career by teaching that you should never stop looking at the world around you since there are daily opportunities to learn new things and improve yourself. 

What is the most important thing you learned during your time at PUC?

The most important thing I learned from my time in Angwin was to establish a strong work ethic and compassion for people working alongside you. I try to remember every day when I wake up. Many people believed in me so I try to do the same for others the best I can. I’m not always perfect 100 percent of the time, but the goal is to try my best and listen with an open heart and mind. This is something I learned from my dad and mom as well.

Who was your favorite professor while you were at PUC and why?

My favorite professor hands down was Dr. Victoria Mukerji. I will never forget my meetings with her over oatmeal and hot cocoa for the Campus Chronicle when we investigated a cult, reviewed films, and talked about world issues. She gave us a lot of free reign and I have sought out mentors who do the same. She was the most thought-provoking teacher at PUC by far and pushed her students to not just accept what was given to them in textbooks, but to investigate on their own outside of class. Curiosity is a tough thing to engender, but she managed to do just that with every class.

You served as editor of the Campus Chronicle, PUC’s student newspaper. What was your favorite thing about that experience?

I always enjoyed the adrenaline rush of seeing my work in print and announcing something people were excited to read about the next day. I still get chills whenever we announce a new update for Rocket League to this day for very similar reasons. It’s great to collaborate on something bigger than yourself!

What advice would you give to students who aspire to work in the video game industry?

The video game industry has historically been a very insular one that is hard to break into, but working in the marketing departments for other entertainment industries certainly will give you plenty of transferrable skills. Persistence and a clear vision for projects you are working on is also important. In terms of landing that first job, it’s good to be clear and concise with what you want to do at that company and create a reasonable plan to present to them. Passion is truly contagious. Asking someone you look up to for advice is also a great place to start. I consider myself truly honored and lucky to work in the video game industry.

Alumni Profile: Dustin Baumbach

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PUC alum Dustin Baumbach is a Ph.D. student researching the hawksbill sea turtle. While documenting these endangered animals, Dustin and his research team found the documentation process frustrating. Instead of letting a small setback stop them, they developed an app to solve their problem, called TURT (Turtles Uniting Researchers and Tourists).

We asked Dustin to share about his experiences and how PUC helped give him the tools he needed to become successful.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Dustin Baumbach, a nature enthusiast, and academic. I enjoy scuba diving, snowboarding, and taking hikes through the forest. During the week, I enjoy working with colleagues to understand the ecology of hawksbill sea turtles and on the weekends, catching up with friends. I also enjoy the pursuit of learning something new and will never pass up the chance to do so, especially when it involves hands on learning. I am a technology geek and thus, enjoy technology based decision making using Geographic Information Systems. However, my interest in technology is not limited to this and also expands to any tool I can use to benefit my research or personal life.

What was your major at PUC?

I originally started off my first year as a biology major with a minor in computer science and then transferred into the environmental science program which was brand new the start of my second year and then realized chemistry would be a better minor to add with it.

What have you been up to since graduating?

After graduation, I immediately started graduate school at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in the department of Earth and Biological Sciences. During my first year, I spent most of my time learning about hawksbills throughout the world and spent that summer in Honduras collecting data. I now spend my summers in the Caribbean, scuba diving, collecting hawksbill observation, and morphological data.

Where did you get the idea for your app?

We originally started distributing turtle sightings sheets to the dive shops within my field site but quickly noticed they only filled them out while we were in town and not there during the school year. This prompted us to create a web-based map the various dive shops could upload turtle sightings to on a regular basis. However, we realized those dive shops and tourists may not have access to a computer immediately after a dive and therefore would benefit from the creation of a smartphone application.

Describe your typical workday.

A typical workday is highly variable. I am currently working on assessing the caloric value of sea turtle food items at Cal State University San Bernardino two days of the week, working on mass spectrometry the other two days of the week, then I head home to read the current literature about hawksbill foraging behavior. When I am not doing any of these activities, I frequently help teach classes for my advisor, help other students, and write various grants and papers.

What is the most enjoyable part of what you do? The most challenging?

The most enjoyable part of my graduate study is by far my summer research. Doing three dives per day, getting to interact with hawksbills knowing we will aid to help its population recovery by understanding more about this critically endangered species. However, the most challenging part of this is understanding how to work with, and educate, the general public, who may be against the project. This has been a challenge we have been working on for the past four years, but plan to continue in order to promote awareness of sea turtles and the importance in understanding more about their ecology.

dustin-2

How did your time at PUC help prepare you for your career?

The time I spent at PUC was extremely valuable to help prepare me for graduate school. Several of my science classes taught me the self-motivation I needed to persevere in graduate school. Along with this, my biology and environmental science classes taught me the concepts needed to understand how to do research and how to think about an organism’s interaction with its environment. I appreciated how PUC required us to take a wide breadth of classes to increase life skills and general knowledge, helping me to deal with the non-biological portions of conservation biology.

What is the most important thing you learned during your time at PUC?

The most important thing I learned was the reward of self-motivation and hard work. I had to learn this the hard way (not meeting my expectations during my first couple of years), but with a little hard work and motivation, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. I know this sounds cheesy, but starting out with a GPA under 3.0 and then graduating with over a 3.0 is an example of this. A little hard work goes a long way.

Who was your favorite professor while you were at PUC and why?

This is a hard question, I had so many professors I feel were influential in my life but if I had to pick, I would have to choose Dr. Floyd Hayes. As one of the few students in the department of biology interested in attending graduate school in the natural sciences, he taught me how to do research by involving me in hands-on projects and helped me understand the joy of teaching by hiring me as his laboratory teaching assistant. I enjoyed learning in his classes and have always thought he deserves the Educator of the Year award! If students are struggling and come to him for help, he is very willing to work with the you, which is always something I have appreciated. To this day I still write to him asking for advice.

What is your favorite memory from PUC?

I have so many fond memories of PUC. However, my favorite memory from my time at PUC was watching the ‘pumpkin chuck’ during MOGtoberfest (Grainger Hall’s club). Living in the dorm and being a part of the Men of Grainger was such a fun experience. I met a lot of amazing, friendly people and have remained friends with some of them even after graduation. Other fond memories include going on hikes in the back 40, experiencing the beauty of fields of mustard and the blossoming trees, and, as every PUC student knows, eating at the amazing restaurants in the Napa Valley.

What advice would you give to young students?

My advice to students would be to never give up and to rely on your friends for support. Even though life may seem difficult and frustrating, keep your life goals in mind and know, as I stated earlier, with a little hard work and determination, it will all be worth it. Also, never pass up the opportunity to learn something new, you never know when it may become useful.

Dustin has also been featured in several articles by Loma Linda University. Read “Sea turtle app developed by student creates citizen-researchers” and “Loma Linda University researchers expand sea turtle research smartphone apps” to learn more about his process and how this app can help researchers around the world in their study of sea turtles.  

TURT (Turtles Uniting Researchers and Tourists) is available on iOs as well as on Android.

dustin-3

Alumni Profile: Katie Aguilar

Katie Aguilar, who graduated in 2013 with a BFA in graphic design, currently works as a graphic designer on the creative services team at Netflix in Los Angeles, Calif. Below, Katie discusses her job at Netflix, her time at PUC, and advice she has for students wanting to follow in her footsteps.

katie-aguilar

What is the most important thing you learned during your time at PUC?

What stands out the most is learning to listen. Whether it was in a class, a meeting, or somewhere in the stillness of the Back 40, if I just listened, I learned something. There’s always someone with a different perspective or approach I would miss if I didn’t just quiet down and listen. I need reminding of that now and again.

Who was your favorite professor while you were at PUC and why?

That’s hard because I grew very close to my professors in the department of visual arts. Most of my PUC experience was spent in Fisher Hall, where my professors were really easy to talk to and always willing to help me through a project and oftentimes, life. So there isn’t just one, there are four. Shout-out to Milbert Mariano, Cliff Rusch, Haley Wesley, and Brian Kyle!

How did your time at PUC prepare you for your career?

It’s the little efficiencies I picked up along the way from my teachers or peers. Keyboard shortcuts, organization, timeliness, the importance of prioritization. It was really surprising when I got out into the “real world” how much those small things played such a big role in my day-to-day and made things run smoother.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job? The most challenging?

The most enjoyable part of my job is knowing I bring value to my team. We use these buzz phrases like “freedom and responsibility,” and it’s true, I have the freedom to work in a way that makes sense to me, the freedom to grow, to learn, to test new ideas and ask questions. My responsibilities to my team are for me to perform at my very best and I really enjoy being in an environment where I can thrive. That’s also the challenging part, I have the freedom to take my career where I want to, so it’s up to me to use my time wisely and make the most out of every opportunity.

What advice would you give for other young aspiring designers?

Some advice I’d give any aspiring designer:

  1. Talk to your professors! Get to know them! They’re such a valuable resource and can help you get through the creative fog you’ll inevitably have during projects.
  2. Be aware of what’s out there. Find out what other designers are doing, what new software is coming out that could improve or change the way you think about design.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try crazy ideas.
  4. Don’t limit yourself to one area of design. Lately all the job postings I’ve seen are looking for a jack of all trades. You don’t need to be an expert in every Adobe product but knowing some fundamentals can come in really handy later on.

Go for it! The only real limit to how far you can go is often set by you. Don’t be afraid of messing up or not getting the exact result you wanted. Just keep going for it. You’ll surprise yourself how far you really go.

Alumni Profile: Ashley Kim

Students at PUC are exposed to incredible opportunities which allow them to help make the world a better place. Ashley Kim is one of those students. As a communication major at PUC, Ashley met and took classes from journalism professor Susan Dix Lyons, from whom she learned about Clinica Verde and made a decision that has not only changed her life, but others around the world.

Ashley Kim

PUC alum Ashley Kim.

Currently, Ashley works as the Executive Assistant for Clinica Verde, a non-profit organization which focuses on preventive healthcare through a whole-health approach to care, beginning with nutrition education and sustainable farming by providing an organic crop production and agriculture learning space for the local community. In 2007, Clinica Verde opened a health clinic in rural Nicaragua and since then, they have provided over 55,500 medical consults, with their focus on providing care for the Nicaraguan mothers and children living in poverty. Their HIGHER Program takes interested students on medical trips to Nicaragua four different times during a year and are currently working with the PUC Missions Department to set up potential trips.

What was your major at PUC, and how did it prepare you for current job?

I was a double major at PUC, intercultural communications and Spanish. Both majors prepared me well for my position at Clinica Verde. Through my communication major, I learned the importance of communicating effectively and on a timely basis, which is so important when being in contact with multiple businesses or individuals via email, phone, or social media. Specifically in the intercultural aspect, I learned how people with different cultural backgrounds communicate in various ways. This has been especially helpful because working stateside yet having our clinic in Nicaragua, I have come in contact with individuals who carry different cultural communication styles and I was able to better navigate myself through conversation because of my knowledge of what may be culturally appropriate or not.  What I’m most excited for however, is going to Nicaragua and visiting the clinic in the near future and using my Spanish along the way.

Susan Dix Lyons was your professor at PUC how did that relationship lead to a job?

Susan Dix Lyons was my Newswriting and Reporting professor at PUC. Upon taking her class and seeing how invested she was in her students, I knew instantly I wanted to continue working with Susan in whatever way I could. A year after taking her class, I sent Susan an email with hopes to intern for her and Clinica Verde but I was very anxious because I didn’t have much experience at the time. Thankfully, Susan immediately responded with an excited and warm response that she would love to work with me and even mentioned a journalism piece I wrote during her class. Although I’m now graduated and working for Susan, I continue to learn from her on a daily basis. Just like when she was my professor at PUC, Susan guides me and helps me grow professionally and intellectually.

What has been PUC’s involvement with Clinica Verde over the years?

PUC students have been great supporters of Clinica Verde for the past few years! Several teams in Professor Michelle Rai’s Fundraising class launched successful fundraising campaigns to support the cause and PUC alums Daniel DeCaires and Suwanna Vantananan continue to serve the organization. PUC Senior Jayson Paw was also an intern for Clinica Verde last spring. In addition, PUC’s Off-Road Triathlon was developed in partnership with Clinica Verde and serves as a benefit to support the work the clinic does serving mothers and children living in poverty.

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PUC alum Daniel DeCaires assists with a checkup at the clinic.

Tell us about the GivingGrid Campaign and its goals.

The GivingGrid campaign is one of our current fundraisers. Our goal is to raise $8,100 for our Prenatal Nutrition Program which supports expectant mothers, and provides them education about the care and nourishment of their babies during and after pregnancy. While $8,100 seem like a small amount, it will go a long way in Nicaragua. The program will work with pregnant women from rural communities to teach fetal development and maternal and child nutrition through presentations, activities, and use of our bio-intensive garden. We just completed our pilot of the program and our hoping to continue this work to transform the lives of the mothers and children we serve. The GivingGrid campaign is an interactive way our supporters can join our cause. Supporters simply click a square with the amount they wish to give and add a picture! Also, supporters who give $100 or more will receive an etched brick on the Clinica Verde grounds in Nicaragua.

If you could go back in time and tell your freshman self one thing, what would it be?

If I could go back and tell my freshman self one thing, it would be to never be afraid of reaching out to our PUC professors. One of the greatest advantages of attending PUC is our professors truly care about their students’ success and want to help in whatever way possible. People may be surprised with how many opportunities I received by simply sending an email to a professor. I now have lasting, close friendships with many of my professors and know I can still reach out to them for help and they’ll always respond warmly.

Editor’s Note: Visit www.clinicaverde.org if you’re interested in learning more about Clinica Verde or how to get involved in the HIGHER program.

If you feel compelled to donate to the GivingGrid Campaign, you can donate at www.givinggrid.com/clinicaverde.

Alumni Profile: Andy Bishop

There are over 26,000 PUC alumni spread throughout the world, and we’re proud of each and every one of them and their accomplishments. Andy Bishop is a 2010 PUC graduate living in San Diego and working with various sports media outlets and organizations.

I asked Andy to share with us his experiences and advice for anyone looking into media-related careers.

You have two jobs; being a real-time correspondent for Major League Baseball (MLB) and a production assistant for Fox Sports San Diego. Tell us a little bit about both.

For my job with MLB, I work a majority of Padres games at Petco Park in San Diego. My main objective is to gather content for MLB and the two respective ball clubs, mostly pictures for their Twitter and Instagram accounts. I have the freedom to go around the ballpark and report on anything interesting or unique at any given game.

With Fox Sports San Diego, I work on a show on which I primarily help produce a weekly feature. This involves everything from coordinating a shoot to working as a second cameraman to assisting with editing on the backend. Additionally, I do miscellaneous projects for the crews producing the Padres games on a daily basis.

Andy (left), in action.

Andy (left), in action.

Describe to me what it took for you to get to where you are.

In a word, persistence. A ton of people want to work in the sports industry; there just aren’t that many jobs. I didn’t exactly help my pursuit by moving to San Diego right after attending PUC, without establishing much of a connection base beforehand. It’s taken me five good years of work experience to get a solid network and to get my foot in the door with some big companies.

Something else I can’t stress enough is support. It would have been easy for me at times to just give up and settle for a job in another industry. I can’t tell you how many amazing friends and family members have encouraged me throughout the process. They have believed in me when most others haven’t, and that’s been essential in my growth as an on-air personality.

How did your major at PUC prepare you for both of your jobs?

The importance of preparation is one of the biggest things I took away from my business and communication majors. I had to do a lot of speeches and presentations in college, and like most people, I would feel the nerves a bit. But the times when I really knew my material and took it to heart were the times I performed better. The same goes for when I’m doing something on camera now. While I have certainly gotten a lot more comfortable talking when the pressure is on, I am far more articulate and confident when I’ve done my homework.

One other component that my studies in communication taught me was to smile. Not enough people do it. Most of us naturally don’t smile and are fairly monotone when talking in front of people. So it’s something you definitely have to work on. You really have to critique yourself and make it point to think about smiling. It becomes a lot more natural over time.

Describe your typical work day.

I have lot of variety in my work days, which is good because I’m not the greatest at sitting in an office cubicle all day. I’m definitely at my best when I’m on the move in some form or fashion.

Most days on the job I do a decent chunk of work from the office: phone calls, emails, editing, meetings, etc. Normally a day or two a week I’m able to head out into the beautiful city of San Diego and help with shooting a feature for Fox Sports. About every other week I’m going to Padres games and roaming around the ballpark at night. In time, I definitely want to do more work out of the office.

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What have you done so far in your professional career that you are most proud of?

I think I’m most proud of the fact that I have stayed true to myself. It is so easy to get caught up in trying to prove yourself to people and/or trying to please people. I have certainly gone through stages where that took more of my focus than it should have. But thankfully, there has been a good maturation process for me in knowing who I am and what I can offer.

A big part of why I’ve been able to stay true to myself is that I’ve been continually humbled and grounded. This is not to say that I’m a complete failure (only a partial one), but I’ve lived long enough to know I’m not the greatest thing since fish tacos. I lot of awesome experiences and individuals have helped me keep a pretty good head on my shoulders.

In the sports industry there is SO MUCH arrogance, ego, and individualism. As a man of faith, I’m very driven to be the opposite of that. I certainly have to be confident and persistent in what I’m trying to do, but man, there is a bigger picture. So along the way I am very committed to sharing others’ awesome stories, creating and sustaining good relationships, and appreciating the journey.

If you could go back in time and tell your freshman self one thing, what would it be?

I would tell my freshman self to be more active in pursuing jobs and internships while in school. I just didn’t realize how hard it was going to be after college to 1) find work and 2) establish myself. There are zero Adventist connections in the sports media world, and about 99.9% of the people have never heard of Pacific Union College. That was a bit of a barrier. I would have been better off getting connected in San Diego earlier, or at the very least doing some sort of summer internship or job in a bigger sports market.

With that said, I’m not much of a woulda, coulda, shoulda guy. So I’m thankful for the solid education I got while at PUC. I’m better off because of the process that it has taken to get here. I’m doing a lot of fun things in the city that I love and feel called to be in. While I still have a long way to go, I’m confident that some really good things are to come in the near future.

What advice do you have for students considering getting into sports broadcasting/reporting?

Only do it if you love it. I started at PUC thinking I was going to pursue medicine, but then in spring quarter my freshman year I found what drove me. Thanks to Rosemary Collins’ Intro to Speech Communication class I realized I felt a certain ease when speaking in front of others. Everything that went into it – the research, the memorization, talking to myself in front of the mirror, sharing stories/speeches to the class – got me excited. Nearly a decade later it is similar types of opportunities with reporting and broadcasting that drive me professionally.

I would also encourage people to keep an open mind about what their career calling is. I think it’s best to keep some options open and try different things. Thankfully, what I dreamed up my freshman year has proven to be what’s best suited for me. As you get more experience during and after college, you have to find your niche and form a personal brand of sorts. But ultimately, I feel you should just be who you are and work your tail off to get what you want. Don’t forget that the most satisfaction professionally will come from the relationships you create and the moments you share with others. Don’t be so concerned about the fast track to success.