Category Archives: Alumni Profile

Welcome To My Mundane Life

Welcome to my mundane life! I say mundane because I, like you, have been self-isolating for the past few weeks and it’s all starting to feel like one VERY LONG DAY. 🙃 I’ve been asked to give an account of what it looks like for some of us PUC staff members who are working remotely, so here you go! I can feel your excitement through the computer. 

My name is Dana Negro. I was a PR/Journalism major at PUC … a while ago. Now I work in the marketing and communication office as the communications specialist. I spend most of my days in headphones listening to music while I write so that part of life hasn’t changed but the lack of people nearby and the addition of copious amounts of conference calls has definitely started to get a little old. My job duties are filled with very exciting things like writing, editing, and scheduling blog posts. I deal with a lot of the college’s general marketing. I also manage all PUC’s main social media accounts so at any given time throughout the day (especially when I have writer’s block or I’m bored) I reply to DMs, leave comments, and try to figure out how Instagram Stories work. 

Even though I’m working from home I still get up fairly early, or at least my alarm goes off fairly early every day. I have a 7 a.m. “wake-up” and then I do what every millennial does: I lay there and scroll through social media until the very last possible moment. Every article about working from home suggests getting dressed for work, as usual, saying it helps you get into “work-mode” and while I do shower, there’s no way you’re getting me in anything but loungewear. And since this isn’t a vlog, you don’t need to know if I’m wearing makeup or not. 

On a typical day, I arrive at the office around 8 a.m. after at least one very large cup of coffee and multiple moments of distraction by my dog Stellaluna. This is what I’m used to coming to work and seeing lots of natural light, lots of open workspace, and many photos and knickknacks strategically placed to provide optimal lack of unmotivated moments.

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My view is a little different these days, management is really breathing down my neck.

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So as not to bore you, I’ll just give you a brief breakdown of my new normal working day in outline form. Aren’t you glad you chose to read this? 

8 a.m. — Sign into Slack (which my office is using to stay connected), check emails, check all PUC social media account notifications.

9 a.m. — Slack staff meeting. 

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BREAK!— It’s time for a Twitter break. Usually, I take a quick morning break to check in with the latest baseball news but right now … show me those dog pics!

10 a.m. — Zoom conference call with Napa County Public Health for updates on how the county is handling the pandemic. This is where I have definitely learned the importance of conference call etiquette. Mute your mics and silence your phones people! 

11 a.m. — This is around the time when I can expect a text from my student intern Ally Romanes, who has decided her cure for boredom and anxiety is to be an even more phenomenal employee (yes, she’s definitely reading this, and yes, it’s still true). She’ll update me on her progress on various projects and we discuss what things I might need from her over the next few days. Then I’ll probably send her multiple photos of my dog and links to at least three items I want to purchase and she’ll tell me not to buy yet another jacket but to get the really frivolous shoes. 

BREAK! — Time to check in with my two best friends. One who works at a grade school and is figuring out how to best educate a group of K-4th graders remotely and the other who is a nurse at the hospital in  St. Helena and assures me he’s being safe! 

1 p.m. — Slack ViewPoint meeting. For those of you who don’t know what ViewPoint is, it’s PUC’s magazine sent out twice a year to a large group of people, mainly consisting of alumni. I’m the managing editor so it’s my job to make sure everything is organized, deadlines are made, everything is edited, etc. The closer to a print date we get, the more often the team meets. This issue is SO close! 

2-4 p.m. — Dramatic afternoon meltdown. Time no longer exists. Who even knows how long I’ve been editing blog posts … Also, I will likely realize I never stopped for lunch and probably eat an entire pack of Ritz Crackers. 

BREAK!— Every 15 minutes my dog will come into the room to observe me but towards the end of the workday she’ll have had enough work and will coerce me into taking a break in the backyard. 

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D🐽G BREAK!

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5 p.m. — IT’S TIME TO STOP WORKING! 

After work, I usually take my dog out into the Back 40 or around the neighborhood. Now she has to settle for unattended backyard time where she inevitably picks a fight with a squirrel and has to be brought inside. 🙄 I usually spend the rest of the evening alternating between reading (I’m on my sixth book of the shelter-in-place order) and binge-watching something; right now it’s Brooklyn 99. Tonight though, I’ve decided to be hip and Netflix Party the first six episodes of Schitt’s Creek with my college roommate. 

OK, that’s it. That’s a typical day in the life of a PUC staff member working remotely. I’m off to bed so I can do this all over again tomorrow! 

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Faces of PUC: Miranda Halversen

When we asked Miranda Halversen to answer a few questions for us we had no idea she was literally about to finish her degree in marketing communications! Since then, Miranda has finished up at PUC and will be joining the Larkin Company team in the near future. We are so excited for her new adventure! 

What is your dream job?

Ah! I have so many. I would love to work for a publishing house, work as a social media manager for a company, public relations manager, event planner.. all of it at some point in my life! And of course, I’ll retire with my own business of a coffee shop/bookstore hybrid to last me through my later years.

How does that compare to what you wanted to be when you were young?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian (as I think a lot of young kids do). But as I got to junior high and high school, I really wanted to be an event or wedding planner! However, I had a bad job-shadowing experience and decided against it. So I was going to go into school for a business degree but ended up falling in love with communication classes. And here I am!

What is your favorite thing about being a part of the Pioneers family?

I will always love dorm life. I got to be a desk worker, resident assistant, and student dean over my time here. Those jobs and the overall culture of the dorm really just helped drive my love for my degree and wanting to always be with people. Our dorms provide a lot of worship opportunities and events which created so many lasting friendships.

Where is your favorite place in the world?

This is a hard question because I have so much more traveling to do before I can decide! But I guess, for now, it’s honestly the Napa Valley. I’ve lived here (at PUC) for nearly 14 years, so it’s home.

What show are you bingeing these days?

Oh, too many. I’m always rewatching all the Friends seasons. But lately, I’ve been watching Bones with my boyfriend, and I’m obsessed!

What is something you’re passionate about?

I’m passionate about people. I have a strong desire to always want to do things to make others laugh, smile or feel happy and comfortable. I thrive when I’m with others. No matter what I end up doing, I want to be doing something where I’m making life better and happier for others.

Recommend a place to go in the Bay Area on a weekend

 I would definitely say to visit Yountville. It’s only about 20 minutes from the hill, and it’s such a cute little town! Especially during Christmas time, they have lights all over Main Street. And a visit to Bouchon Bakery is always a plus over there!

Congratulations on finishing your last finals, Miranda! We wish you the best as you start your new journey! 

 

PUC Coloring Page Partie Deux

It’s time for another edition of coloring with PUC!

Download this coloring page and color away. feel free to send us photos of the final product!

 

Pioneers Coloring Sheet 2

Faces of PUC: Brandon Parker

This week’s Faces of PUC is none other than PUC’s CFO Brandon Parker who returned to his alma mater, (’96) in 2017, along with his wife Heidi who joined PUC’s human resource team, and their two sons. Before he made his way back to Angwin he was the vice president and chief financial officer for St. Helena Hospital, so his career change didn’t take him far! Brandon was kind enough to answer a few quick questions so we could get to know him a little bit better. 

What brought you to PUC?

It was a God thing.  I’ve always left the guidance of my career in God’s hands, and the path to PUC became evident.  Prov 16:9.

What is the best thing about being a part of the Pioneers family?

The Pioneers family has two major qualities that I’m happy to be a part of 1) extremely passionate about PUC, and 2) eternally optimistic.

Where is your favorite place to eat in the Valley and why?

Checkers and Giugni’s. I have great memories of dating my wife.

What is something you can do/want to do that might be surprising for people to learn?

Be the next Harry Connick Jr.

What is one song you’re listening to on repeat lately?

Anything Peter Cincotti

Who is someone you admire and why?

Frank Sinatra, because he did it his way!

Finish this sentence: On Sunday mornings you can find me …

drinking coffee, wishing I was golfing.

 

 

Faces of PUC: Judith Mendoza

Meet PUC’s newest admissions counselor, Judith Mendoza. After graduating from PUC, Judith continued her education at Andrews University where she received her MA in youth and young adult ministry. Judith has a passion for Adventist Education and was excited to accept a position that would bring her back to our beloved tree-covered mountain. 

What brought you to PUC? How/Why did you decide to work here?

I first came to PUC as a student in 2011 and it was the trees and community feel that drew me to PUC. Thankfully that decision led to some of my favorite memories and people. After graduation, I felt a call to ministry and headed to Andrews to get an MA in Youth and Young Adult ministry. As I was approaching the end of my time at Andrews, my friend Angel (another Admission Counselor) told me about an opening here in admissions. While it may seem like I diverted from ministry, I find there are so many opportunities where I get to share my two biggest passions, Jesus and Adventist Education. Connect Ministries allows me to share in worship experiences with our youth in local churches and schools, while college fairs will let me share with others PUC and the things that make this place and our education system so special. I’m very happy to be back.

What is something you can do that might surprise people?

I am an amateur ‘master juggler’ in balls and rings, I got close to mastering the hollow bowling pins but I still need some practice. I’m also a decent goalkeeper and love participating in PUC’s soccer intramurals. Look out for my team, ‘Lakers’ (I did not pick the name-Go Portland Trailblazers!), this season.

Where is your favorite place to eat in the Napa Valley and why?

I love going to Melted, I have always been a fan of comfort food and grilled cheese always hits the spot. I also feel a little fancy there because it’s not your regular grilled cheese but like an upscale version of it.

What is your favorite thing about being part of the Pioneers family?

In the transition from a student to a staff member here at PUC, I’m happy to see I still get to experience the warm community feel which first drew me in. I was already friends with most of the other admission counselors, but the rest have been so welcoming and encouraging as I learn the ropes. Not just the team but other faculty and staff members have also made me feel like a family member who’s finally home from a trip. In a way I feel like that too, PUC was home for me for four years and while a lot has changed, the people are as friendly and this campus is as beautiful as I remember.

What is one song you’re listening to on repeat lately?

If you look at my Spotify account it’s all over the place, there’s an Anthems playlist, a Spanish playlist, an English playlist, and I also have a Disney Channel playlist. I don’t think I can narrow it down to one song, but according to Spotify it’s Hesitate by the Jonas Brothers.

Finish this sentence: On Sunday mornings you can find me…

Reading. I love reading for pleasure and since I’m no longer reading textbooks every day, I’m taking advantage and getting back into it. You may also find me at brunch, Sunday morning brunch is a big thing in my family and I’d love to continue that with my cousins and brother who are here in Angwin.

 

Faces of PUC: Gregg Gallemore

Meet Gregg Gallemore. Last year, Gregg decided to move back to his alma mater and take a welding job with facilities management. He recently got married and is he’s really enjoying being back in an area he loves, building a home with his new wife. 

What brought you to PUC? How/Why did you decide to work here?

This is kind of a long story, but essentially, I know I am here at PUC because God wants me here. I know it’s a little cliche sounding, but it is the most blatant answer I can give when I ask myself that same question. When I reflect on the whole story of how I came to work here, everything was too perfectly timed out and in my mind, that isn’t how life typically works. Every time I pray, I ask God to give me blatantly in my face answers, ” God, either shut me down hard or kick my butt through the door but I want/need an answer.” PUC was a kick through the door. Every time I ask God to give me a blatant answer, there it is right in my face.

What is the best thing about being a part of the Pioneers family?

I’ll say working with the facilities team is probably the best thing about working here. I love working with these guys and sincerely appreciate the work they do. They make working here easy, even when I have to crawl into the stinky dirty trash truck to weld something!

Where is your favorite place to eat in the Valley and why?

Tra Vigne is always good. Eat inside or outside, both offer a really nice environment or “AMBIANCE” if you want me to get all fancy with my words.

What is something you can do/want to do that might be surprising for people to learn?

I love metalwork, so much so that I built a huge wedding arbor for one of my childhood friends. I also built my wedding arbor as well. Because my craft is working with metal, these aren’t simple arbors, they are all made out of steel with intricate metal details. Aside from that, I ride a motorcycle and sometimes I do wheelies on that motorcycle. 

What is one song you’re listening to on repeat lately?

Songs? … try albums. I know these aren’t the best album’s to admit to listening to on repeat, but Tool’s new album Fear Inoculum and Stick Figure’s new album World on Fire.

Who is someone you admire and why?

I admire my dad. He just has so much more patience than I do and that is just one of the many qualities I admire about him. He’s also a really good man that I strive to be like.

Finish this sentence: On Sunday mornings you can find me … 

On Sunday morning’s you can find me sleeping in till 7 or 8 am!, working on cleaning up my place, walking my dog Amica, and then working on whatever project I’ve got going.

 

What I Should Be Doing: An Interview with Music Alumnus Brennan Stokes

By Becky St. Clair

Brennan Stokes graduated from Pacific Union College in 2013 with a degree in piano performance. Having discovered a love for composition while studying with Professor Asher Raboy in the department of music, Stokes chose to continue his education at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, graduating in 2019 with a Master’s of Music in composition. Today he maintains a teaching studio in San Francisco’s Sunset District, passing on his love of music to the next generation of pianists. 

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How did you discover your love for music?

My parents are both musically inclined; they both sang in the church choir, Mom took piano lessons as a kid, and Dad plays the trumpet. They started me in piano lessons when I was in kindergarten, but there was always music in our house. I just took it and ran with it.

How did you settle on the piano?

It was the first instrument I learned, and it was a match from the start. I really liked it, and according to my teachers, I showed some promise for it, so I kept playing. Piano just made sense to me. 

How did composing become part of your musical life?

I always assumed I was going to be on one side of the page. I knew I was going to learn it, research it, analyze it, but I never considered creating it myself. When I found out I had to take a composition class for my degree, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but after our first assignment I realized how magical this process is and I fell in love with it. I continued to take classes with Professor Raboy even after the requirements were done. Creating new music was incredibly exciting for me. 

Tell us about your studio.

I teach 30-35 students a week, all between the ages of 5 and 13. My schedule is very flexible; since most kids are in school, I am relatively free during the day. I start teaching around 3 p.m. three days a week and teach until 8 p.m. I enjoy what I do. I consider myself very fortunate to be working in my field, teaching young musicians.

When you’re not teaching kids to create music, you create music yourself. Describe your approach to practicing.

Really, it starts slow. Paying attention to fingerings becomes essential; training my hands to do smaller tasks automatically. Then I focus on rhythm, hand by hand, figuring out what each part of the piece sounds like, then I put it all together. A valuable tool Dr. Wheeler gave me is reverse practice. If you only ever start your practice at the beginning of a piece, that’s always going to be the strong part. But if you start at the end, which is often the hardest part, you ensure the end is also strong. Then you feel even more comfortable with the piece. 

What is the difference between hearing a piece and playing it?

It’s a totally different experience to hear a piece than it is to see what the hands have to do to make the piece happen. You may feel like you know a piece after listening to it multiple times, but when you sit down to actually play it, you realize there are little rhythmic or harmonic nuances you didn’t realize were there. For example, the harmonies in some Chopin and Rachmaninoff pieces are super crunchy. It sounds like you’re playing something wrong and you check the notes three times, but that’s really what it is. You learn it, and suddenly it’s not crunchy anymore; it works. 

Aside from providing a way to make a living, how has studying music contributed positively to your life?

The last several years I’ve been getting into poetry and it has turned into a cycle of self-enrichment. I read poetry and feel like it was meant to be an art song, so I create some vocal music to go with the poem. Also, music allows me to meet really incredible people from all over the world. Music is the most universal thing; it doesn’t matter where you come from or what language you speak, you can bond over music. I love how it brings people together.

Who is your favorite composer to play, and why?

I’d say Chopin and this relatively new 20th century English composer named York Bowen. Chopin changed the game for solo piano. Yes, it’s technical, but once you get it in the fingers, it becomes so fluid and so natural. There’s playfulness, there’s sadness, and the composer’s intentions are really clear. Bowen utilizes really rich harmonies and has a bit of a jazzier feeling. I don’t think he’s well known but he’s written a ton of music; in particular, his preludes and ballads feel really nice to play.

Who is your favorite composer to listen to, and why?

There are two to whom I constantly return: Ravel and Beethoven. I have yet to encounter a piece by Ravel I’m not stunned by. He was a wizard of music and his chamber and orchestra music is stunning. Every instrument’s shape and technique is magic because he thought about more than the obvious ways to use the instrument. He utilizes every aspect of shading to get different tone colors and sounds.

Beethoven takes his time with his surprises. What he did to change musical form is a reminder that if you feel like doing something, you can. He’ll pull a fortissimo out of nowhere or move through his harmonies in an unexpected way. His sonatas are really rich; one movement is fiery and passionate then another is lyrical and serene. It’s incredible to realize you don’t always have to do the same thing all the time. He reminds me to come back to things that are good and innovate. I’m still looking back to these masters and finding ways to influence my music-making process. 

What is something you want to improve about your musicianship, and what are you currently doing to move in that direction?

Right now, rhythms and the finer points of notating what I want, maintaining my ear to get the intricate harmonies I love. I constantly have to work at how I put the complicated pieces together in the way I want them. During my first year of grad school, I took a musicianship class, and it was insane but incredible. Walking out of that class, my ear was so much sharper than it had been walking in. I still use techniques from that class to keep track of what has happened in a piece and what I’m doing next. 

What is the highlight of your career thus far?

Definitely my first composition recital in November 2017—the first time I heard one of my pieces performed. I had composed two songs for mezzo soprano, violin, cello, and piano, and I was terrified. I’m so used to being in the driver’s seat, and it was terrifying to be the composer just sitting in the audience watching four other people do my music and having zero control over what happened.

It was an immense learning curve handing my music over to other musicians; what I think works initially may not actually work after a second pair of eyes looks it over, especially when I’m composing for instruments that are not my primary. I also learned that how performers interpret music is also a part of the creative process.

A lot of people came up to me afterward and said it was amazing. It was a moment when all of my fears of not being good enough vanished. To be positively received by an audience was wonderful, but for my music to be positively received by the musicians playing it was even better. It was confirmation I was doing what I should be doing.

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If you could change one thing about society’s perception of classical music, what would it be?

I wish more people understood if you have the context of 20th century music, it will make more sense. The 20th century saw a lot of horrible things happen, and that’s reflected in dissonant 20th century music. It’s not necessarily pretty to listen to, but if you understand what they’re trying to say you don’t necessarily disagree with it. It takes a moment to transcend what you’re hearing and realize what the composer is saying; for example, a minor key with shrieking strings can express how a Polish composer feels about the Holocaust. If you understand what it is they were experiencing or reacting to, it contextualizes their voice and makes the music more accessible. 

How do you deal with performance anxiety?

I read a book on performance anxiety and the author said if you don’t get nervous, if you don’t feel anxious or get a boost in energy (whether positive or negative) before a performance, it’s apathy. You don’t really care. If you’re nervous before you perform, it means you want to do a good job and perform to the best of your ability to make sure what you put out there is wonderful. That really changed my way of thinking. I’ve learned to recognize what happens to me and where my nervousness affects me the most, then find a way to adjust. I try to fully relax my body and tell myself I’m going to give a wonderful performance. I reassure myself I’ve practiced, I’m ready, and I’m a good enough musician to find my way through the performance. This is music and music is fun, and sharing it with others should be enjoyable. That nervous feeling just means I’m doing the right thing. I’m doing something that matters to me. And that’s how it should be. 

 

Sensibilities: Douglas Sandquist at the Rasmussen Art Gallery

By Becky St. Clair

In the early 90s, Douglas Sandquist attended PUC as a bio-chem. Upon being accepted into dental school after his junior year, he left PUC and headed to dental school. He went on to become a dentist back in his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, where today he curates the unexpected combination of his dental career and photography. 

In 2016, a photo Sandquist took in Iceland with his iPhone and shared via Instagram was requested by Apple for use in a worldwide marketing campaign. This resulted in mega exposure for this Nevadan dentist-photographer. (More on this in the Q&A—keep reading!)

Some of Sandquist’s photographic art will be displayed in an exhibit in the Rasmussen Art Gallery beginning this Saturday, Oct. 12, with his opening reception at 7 p.m. He will present an artist talk and refreshments will be served. Before you go, though, you may want to learn a bit more about the artist himself. We did, so we asked him a few prodding questions. 

Introducing: Douglas Sandquist.

Where did you grow up, and how did that environment contribute to how you view the physical world? big-image-1

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s right in the middle of the Southwest part of the United States. California, Utah, and Arizona, along with their beaches, deserts, and National Parks, gave me the opportunity to get out and see what was out there. I’ve never stopped exploring.

 

 

What sparked your original interest in photography?

I actually dabbled with it even as a child. It wasn’t until I wanted to get better at taking photos for my day job as a dentist that I really started getting serious about it. I wanted to somehow be able to capture what I do. Most dental photography is macro photography, but it’s also portrait photography. I originally wanted to learn how to take better clinical photos, so I delved into learning how to better use a camera, how to compose a shot, and how to work with different lighting. One thing led to another, and I started to enjoy photography outside the office just as much as in it.

What was the first camera you used to start shooting artistic/intentional photography?

I bought a Canon 10D in 2004.

What camera is your instrument of choice now?

I currently use a Canon 5D Mark IV and, of course, an iPhone. 

Where do you learn your photography skills?

I’ve never taken a formal photography class. I am mostly self-taught, but I have also participated in workshops all over the world, and have engaged in online mentorship programs for over 10 years.

Okay, let’s talk about the Apple iPhone ads. (You knew it was coming!) How did this happen?

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Crazy as it sounds, I didn’t submit my photo to Apple. In January 2016 I took a photo with my iPhone and posted it on Instagram with a few hashtags—as you do—and a few months later, I was contacted by Apple and their advertising agency, requesting the use of my photo in a campaign. I agreed, and within a matter of months, my photo—taken with an iPhone 6S—was on billboards, in magazines, and on signs around the globe.

 

 

 

Where did your photo show up, that you know of? big-image-3

That photo appeared on over 30 billboards all around the world: L.A., San Francisco, Dallas, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Paris, India, six cities in China—including Shanghai—Korea, Thailand, Mexico, Tokyo, and Turkey, and on the back of magazines all over the world. 

 

What inspires you as a photographer?

I love challenging what I see and then attempting to capture it. It also means I get to get out there and go see the world. 

What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

I particularly enjoy capturing cold landscapes and the stars in the American Southwest. 

How do you think the desert of the American Southwest and the frozen tundra of Iceland are connected for you? What draws you to those environs to shoot? big-image-2

Both of these regions offer plenty of opportunities to ask, “How did this happen?” Whether it’s a massive arch-like Double Window in Arches National Park or the glacier ice that ends up on the black sand beaches of Iceland, there are always unique views and perspectives to capture and ponder. I also love the way the light transforms these elements. Different times of the day or year create different scenes that often catch me off-guard and illuminate my sensibilities.  

We have to ask one completely abstract question, so here goes: If the experience of taking the perfect photo had a color, what would it be? big-image

Sunset Orange 🙂 

 

Where Passion and Profession Unite

Every Pioneer has a unique story. Each one is different, but they all started at the same place. Here! An education at PUC prepares students for more than just a career. Graduates are equipped with the practical knowledge and the spiritual nurturing to succeed and serve and are ready for whatever the future brings. 

PUC is a place where passion and profession unite. Our grads know the combination of a beautiful and perfectly located setting; dedicated professors; and a hands-on approach to Adventist education, all play a part in starting your future. At PUC, you find more than just a major—you find your calling.

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Cameron combined his love of surfing with graphic design and is thriving as a senior designer at RipCurl.

“PUC gave me a lot of opportunities to work one-on-one with my professors. Under their guidance, the skills and techniques I developed and perfected helped me land my dream job at Rip Curl.” Cameron Mitchell, Senior graphic designer, Rip Curl

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As an animal lover, Mindy dreamed of doing more. Now she’s a vet performing surgeries to help save the lives of horses.

“Reflecting on my undergraduate education at Pacific Union College, I can’t imagine better preparation for my career as a veterinarian. The biology program gave me the foundation needed to transition into veterinary course work with ease. My professors were not only wonderful instructors but ensured my academic success through personal mentorship and course flexibility. The smaller class sizes afforded many opportunities for leadership and teaching roles that greatly enhanced my application in a highly competitive pool. PUC influenced my transition from student to educated professional equipped to face the challenges and triumphs of my chosen career as an equine veterinarian.” Mindy C. Smith, DVM, cVMA, Associate Veterinarian, Equine Medicine

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Alex is a self-proclaimed “people person” with the singular focus to one day make a positive impact. Following her passion for education and service drove her to a career in public health. 

“PUC was not only where I received an education, but also where I received the opportunity to be an enrollment counselor. That experience has trained me to be successful in my field when it comes to working with the community in countless ways.” Alex Dunbar, community education specialist

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Stefaan combined his love of the outdoors, sports and photography into a double degree in photography and business here at Pacific Union College!

“I’ve always been an athlete and I’ve always loved photography. In my junior year, I studied abroad in Spain and I spent a lot of time traveling and finding what my passions were and I came away from that year seeing photography as a very viable career for me.” Stefaan Dick, adventure photographer

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Julie found her path around the world through global service. 

“I never imagined that my degrees in English and psychology would lead me to a job in missions that takes me around the globe. Yet my professors at PUC celebrated the diversity of people, culture, and ideas. They taught me to look beyond the surface and dig deeper for new perspectives. They showed me how compassion and dialogue can build community, wherever you are. By teaching me how to think, PUC prepared me for the world.” Julie Lee, Vice president of marketing, Maranatha Volunteers International

If you’re interested in joining our amazing alums and becoming part of the Pioneers family, apply today!

 

Q&A with Winter Revival Speaker Aren Rennacker

By Becky St. Clair

Aren Rennacker is currently the youth and college pastor at the Calimesa Seventh-day Adventist Church. After graduating in 2007 from Sacramento Adventist Academy, Aren went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in PR and journalism from PUC in 2011, then his master’s in theological studies from La Sierra University in 2017.

One of four kids, Aren has myriad stories from his childhood, during which he dreamed of winning a spot on an NBA team.

He will be speaking during PUC’s Winter Revival, Jan. 22-25, and his theme is “Authentic.” We caught up with Aren so we could all get to know him a little better (how did he go from basketball star to youth pastor?) as we prepare to receive his insights on authenticity and God next week.

Why did you choose “Authentic” as your theme?

It’s such a unique time to be alive right now, and particularly to be in college. Students are forming their identities in the midst of a lot of distrust, competition, pressure, and confusion. These can all contribute to misunderstandings about oneself and what it means to be human. My hope is for one week, we can practically examine the journey of growing as a child of God, and how that actually is meant to allow for more authenticity in our lives, not less. I truly hope our time together is engaging, practical, and genuine to the students’ experiences.

What was your experience with church and worship as a college student, and how has that affected your life today?

Friday night vespers at PUC were always a highlight. I spent most Sabbaths with Kidz Reach, a group that mentored at-risk youth in Napa. Also, the religion classes were outstanding. Truly, the entire spiritual environment at PUC helped me grow in a lot of ways and led me into pursuing ministry. I remain grateful to this day for the teachers and leaders I had as guides during those years.

What’s something that challenged you as a young adult, and how did you handle it?

At the end of my freshman year, I was asked to take a year off to serve as the youth leader at a local church. At that time I still wanted to be a sports journalist and had no desire to be a pastor; however, I felt saying “no” would upset God.

I met with a mentor of mine to process the decision, and he helped me see God was not for me or against me based on my decision, but both “yes” and “no” could be the right or wrong answer based upon how I chose to spend the next year. That took a lot of the pressure off and helped me see God in a healthier way.

I decided to return to PUC that year recommitted to serving God on campus. And, what do you know, by the end of that year I decided I wanted to pursue a career as a youth pastor instead of as a journalist.

What were you like as a kid?

I was the youngest of four and I’m sure I acted like it. Fortunately, my mom and siblings were patient and helped create a great childhood for me. Sports were my passion, and I always wanted to be watching, playing, or reading about them. Reading the sports page in the newspaper every day helped cultivate my love for writing, and obsessing over the Sacramento Kings helped me acclimate to taking losses. Despite that, I was a generally happy kid who enjoyed school and loved my family.

What is your favorite food to eat?

My favorite food category is ice cream. (Is that a category?) Seriously, though, if I were to have one plate of anything, it would be my mom’s French toast. She’s the only one in the world who can make it her way.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I still enjoy playing basketball, and I’m hoping to play some while I’m up at PUC. I’m currently in the middle of several good books, including Under the Overpass, an account of two guys who chose to become homeless for five months to better understand what others experience. But my favorite free time activity is spending time with my girlfriend, Paige, which usually means a game of Uno, an episode of The Office, or a bowl of acai. Better yet: all three.

What are some items on your bucket list?

This is a timely question because I turn 30 this summer, meaning I should probably do some life reflecting. Some of the things I’ve done are travel the U.S., work at a job I love, and see the Giants win the World Series (three times). I’d still love to run a half marathon, write a book, and star on Broadway. Dream big.

What would you say is your main goal for Winter Revival?

My ultimate goal for the week would be for those listening to be willing to process or wrestle with at least one new idea or perspective they hear. Living within a faith community can often numb us to yet another message (myself included), so if any student or staff actually feel something they hear is worth consuming and thinking over, perhaps even discussing with a friend, I’d be honored and grateful. I simply long to be a small part in the journey of growth for anybody who will allow me to be.

If, in the course of said discussions or ponderings, a student has questions or just wants to connect with you about things, how can they reach you?

I would love to talk in person while I’m on the hill, or they can reach me at asrennacker@gmail.com.