Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from PUC!

The Christmas season is one of our favorite times of year here at the college on the mountain. Coming together as a PUC family to celebrate the joy of Christ’s birth, enjoy beautiful music from our students, faculty, and staff, and pausing to reflect on God’s generosity to our campus.

We asked faculty and staff across campus to share with us what blessings they are thankful for this year, and what they’re looking forward to the most in 2019.

What are you most grateful for this past year?

“As I look at the amazing blessings in my life this year, I am deeply grateful for the time I get to spend with my father. My dad is age 86, and he is amazing. He is such a blessing with every story he tells, every memory he shares. He lives only 30 minutes from my home, and he spends each weekend and Sabbath with us, telling stories and memories, dispensing wisdom and sharing his sarcasm and delightful sense of humor. He is a U.S. Army veteran and was a non-combatant medical corpsman in the service. He was a building contractor and an Adventist academy boys’ dean and was always the family resident camping expert as he led us on expeditions in the wilds. He is an example to me of a life well-lived. Oh yes, and now, he flies drones as a hobby using heads-up display goggles and revels in the struggle to learn new technology. He inspires me with his quest to keep learning, no matter what.” — Craig Philpott, director of admissions

“I’ll be cliché and say my family and my friends who have become my family (most of them I met as a student here at PUC!).” — Dana Negro, communications specialist

“I’m most grateful that my sister is now recovered and cancer-free.” — Dr. Steve Waters, professor of mathematics

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to grow. Grow alongside friends who like me are recent graduates, grow alongside family members and new family dynamics, and to grow alongside coworkers who are passionate to serve God through working at PUC.” — Mayte Jimenez, admissions counselor

“I am grateful to belong to a community that values and respects books and the exploration of ideas. I love that we have a community that allows and expects its members to keep learning and growing.” — Dr. Maria Rankin-Brown, professor of English

“Health, family, and friends.” — J.R. Rogers, associate vice president for student life

“I took a ceramics class from the department of visual arts during fall quarter, and I’m so glad I did. I’m grateful for learning a new skill and finding an artistic outlet that is very therapeutic and creatively challenging.” — Katy Van Arsdale, special collections and reference librarian

“I don’t know what I’m MOST grateful for, but I am VERY grateful for the ability to walk out my back door into the beauty of the back 40 and rejuvenate my soul.” — Tammy McGuire, professor of communication

“All the accomplishments and goals that I completed in the past year. Things I have done and the memories that have been made.” — Chris Romero, admissions counselor

What are you most looking forward to in 2019?

“I am looking forward to some travel in 2019. My wife and I are not yet certain exactly where a summer trip might take us, but that is half the joy, the planning, the ideas, the budget, the timing. It will certainly be a driving trip, and it will involve mountains and National Parks and back roads and dirt roads and likely some 4×4 back-country roads, and it will be a chance to see new vistas, take new pictures and recharge our souls.” — Craig Philpott, director of admissions

“Short-term I’m excited to give my niece her birthday present in January (it’s really good)! Long-term I’m looking forward to taking my puppy on lots of beach trips.” — Dana Negro, communications specialist

“I’m most looking forward to my summer Honors course that I’m teaching in London!” — Dr. Peter Katz, assistant professor of English

“I’m looking forward to reaping the fruits of my labor. 2018 was full of unexpected changes, and I trust that God works all things for the good and with that comes His provision. I’m genuinely really excited!” — Mayte Jimenez, admissions counselor

“I hope we get more rain. I’m looking forward to seeing how fresh the back 40 looks after a solid rainy season.” — Dr. Maria Rankin-Brown, professor of English

“To see what God has planned for PUC.” — J.R. Rogers, associate vice president for student life

“Travel! In 2018 I visited eight National Parks I’d never seen before. I’d like to match that number this year.” — Katy Van Arsdale, special collections and reference librarian

Summer adventures in Colorado on foot and bike!” — Tammy McGuire, professor of communication

From the entire Pioneers family, may you have a blessed Christmas and a very happy New Year!

PUC Biology Professor Floyd Hayes Scales Matterhorn

By Sarah Tanner

Since 1865, over 500 people have died climbing the Matterhorn. Dr. Floyd Hayes was almost one of them. From August 24 to 26, the Pacific Union College professor and resident rock climber took on Europe’s 14th highest peak, only to be caught in a near-whiteout snowstorm on the way down.

Hayes teaches biology and environmental studies at PUC. In conjunction with quarterly classes, he also conducts student trips to locations around the world including Alaska, Micronesia, Fiji, Panama, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Paraguay, and Kenya. It is safe to say the professor is quite the explorer. Along with former PUC professor of mathematics, Roy Benton, Hayes expanded his travels this summer when he flew to the town of Zermaat in Switzerland in preparation to climb the Matterhorn.

Hayes and Benton have been climbing together for years, and the decision to climb Matterhorn came naturally to the two adventurers. To prepare for the roughly 14,700-foot ascent, the professors made a number of solo preliminary hikes as well as a joint two-day ascent of Switzerland’s Breithorn shortly before their Matterhorn ascent.

As part of his training, Hayes explained, “I climbed Mount St. Helena with a backpack and books. It’s about a 10-mile round trip. I also spent the night at 12,000 feet during a 15-mile round trip hike up White Mountain Peak in eastern California.” He smiled, “After this, I think we were in shape.”

Rather than employ a guide, the veteran climbers decided to tackle Matterhorn on their own. Though confident in their ability to scale its summit, the two, Hayes admitted, tended to veer off route. However, these brief diversions from the trail proved to be the least of their worries as they neared the pinnacle of the famed mountain.

On the morning of their first day, the pair made their way to 10,696 feet via a combination of cable cars and normal hiking.

“The next morning we started climbing at 4:30 a.m. and after seven hours, we made it to the top,” Hayes recalled. And that is when it started to snow.

Professor Hayes enjoys the view from the top.

“At 11:30 a.m. just as we reached the summit, the snow started falling. It wasn’t supposed to happen for another three hours, so we thought we had time.” He explained that after weeks of following conflicting weather reports, they had purposely planned to summit the mountain on this particular day because the chance of storms had dropped to a mere 20 percent.

“We spent nine hours descending and did 24 rappels during the storm. It was well below freezing and we could barely see the ropes in front of us, much less the side of the mountain.”

He explained in addition to the inherent danger of the conditions, rappelling in itself is a significant challenge.

“We were afraid the hanging rope would get caught as we were coming down. We have a lot of experience and know how to survive. But accidents happen. You have to be prepared,” Hayes warned.

As the last shreds of daylight slipped between the peaks, Hayes and Benton made their last rappel to the emergency hut stationed at 13,000 feet.

Professor Benton on the climb.

“We slept fully clothed under six blankets and still shivered.” Hayes continued, “The next morning we had to wait for some of the snow to melt before making our way back. This time, we only made two rappels before downclimbing the rest of the way.”

Hayes captured the entirety of the climb, blizzard included, in a video using a small camera he attached to his gear.

“Out of all the climbing videos we’ve made, this is by far the most spectacular.” he grinned, “I wasn’t very happy about it at the time, but looking at it now is incredible.”

Undeterred by the complications on the Matterhorn, Hayes is hopeful about his future adventures. Having already scaled Grand Teton in Wyoming, Mount Shasta here in California, and various locations in Colorado, he hopes to tackle Washington’s Mount Rainier next.

“My experience is mostly in rock climbing, not mountain,” Hayes explained, “I still have a lot of locations I haven’t tried.”

Students who want to learn more about rock climbing are welcome to talk to Hayes, who has insight about a fledgling club at PUC. He also mentioned a climbing class using the rock wall in the gym is in the works.

For those interested in his Matterhorn adventure, Hayes has posted his video to YouTube, which you can view below.

Merry Christmas from Your Enrollment Counselors!

(From left to right) J.R. Rogers, Janae Bowman, Avery Lay, and Chris Romero.

As 2017 winds down to a close, we’re taking time to reflect back on the past year and look forward to what the new year will bring. We asked your four enrollment counselors to share with us what they’re giving thanks for this holiday season and what they’re looking forward to in the new year.

What are you most grateful for this past year?

“I’m thankful and grateful for five wonderful years with my wife (as of Dec. 16). We have been very blessed with family, work, and a super awesome year and a half old Great Dane.” – J.R. Rogers

“Continued life, health, family, and loved ones. All that God has allowed me to accomplish.” – Chris Romero

“I often put a lot of thought into what I’m thankful for each year, but this year I am most thankful for the intangible things, the things that have helped me grow. One of the biggest things I’m thankful for is the support from my friends and family to continue my education and start graduate school.” – Janae Bowman

“Getting to see my grandmother one last time during the Columbia Union tour. She lives in Virginia so I almost never see her, and she passed away just last week. There was just enough time to go visit her nursing home before my flight back from Richmond.” – Avery Lay

What are you most looking forward to in 2018?

“I’m looking forward to whatever God decides should happen to my 2018. We have some fun trips planned personally and some great ideas for PUC.” – J.R.

“All of the above listed plus whatever God has in store for me next this upcoming year.” – Chris

“Opportunities! I am looking forward to the opportunities, whether it be with my job or grad school! I always look forward to seeing what God has in store for me.” – Janae

“Looking forward to volunteering with Berkeley Homeless Ministry and St. Anthony’s Dining Room again. I don’t get to do it in the fall when all the visits and college fairs are happening.” – Avery

A Visitor’s Guide to St. Helena

We often hear from students that there’s “nothing to do” around PUC, or the Napa Valley doesn’t offer the same amenities found in larger towns. However, it’s completely the opposite! You just have to look a little harder for things you’re interested in as opposed to having them as conveniently right outside your front door.

At first glance, St. Helena, the town closest to PUC—a mere eight miles away—can seem like nothing more than a playground for the rich, lacking a price friendly environment. There are places hidden throughout the valley, however, that offer a good time without breaking the wallet. Here are some popular spots PUC students like to go for a break from studying and experience sophisticated Napa Valley culture in nearby St. Helena!

If you want something to eat …

It’s no secret the Napa Valley is known for its incredible, Michelin star restaurants, but there are also plenty of casual places to grab a good bite to eat in St. Helena, depending on what you’re craving:

  • Mexican food: Whether it’s Taco Tuesday or you just want a good burrito, both Azteca Market and Villa Corona offer great food at a great price.
  • A good sandwich: If you talk with any PUC alum, one of the things they may tell you they miss the most about being at PUC is the iconic sandwich joint, Giugni’s. It’s a local favorite for sandwiches and “Giugni juice.” This place is a classic, although you won’t want to forget to bring cash!
  • Italian food: Another PUC local favorite is Pizzeria Tra Vigne, where you will most likely find PUC students, faculty, and staff on any given day!
  • A burger, fries, and milkshake: If you watch the Food Network, you’ve probably already heard of Gott’s, which has been famous in the Valley since 1999 but is now a must stop for tourists after being featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.”

If you want a cup of coffee or a snack …

For students looking for a place to sip on a hot beverage or smoothie, nibble on a pastry, or enjoy a sandwich or gelato, there are several different coffee shops in town available to spend time studying or to just relax take a break. There’s the Napa Valley Roasting Company, lovingly referred to as the “RoCo,” offering excellent drinks and patio seating; the Model Bakery, which is your go-to spot if you’re looking for fresh bread and pastries; and Sogni Di Dolci, a student favorite due to its delicious, authentic Italian gelato.

If you want to watch a movie …

Built in 1913, the Cameo Cinema is one of the oldest running single-screen theaters in the United States. Don’t let its age fool you, though—the Cameo boasts the most technologically innovative projection system in the area, and has Dolby 3D capabilities. The Cameo hosts current movies, art films, concerts, and the annual PUC Diogones Film Festival in the spring, and has also hosted special community screenings of Francis Ford Coppola’s films. The ticket price for students with a school ID is just $7, making the Cameo a perfect place to come on Saturday nights with friends or even a date!

If you want to shop …

Lolo’s Consignment is where you can find relatively new designer clothes as well as discounted furniture, books, and home decor items. College students are always looking for creative ways to stretch their budgets, and Lolo’s is a great place to look for great deals. You can often find items with the tags still on for a fraction of original cost.

Tip: Ladies, be sure to stop by Lolo’s the third Wednesday of every month for “Girls’ Night Out” where the store stays open late and clothing and accessories are an extra 20 percent off.

If you want a good book …

Main Street Books is a charming little bookstore right on Main Street (obviously) offering a large selection of used books, and a modest amount of new books sprinkled in. All used books are half off, and it’s a great place to find classic literature books for some of your English classes, often at an even cheaper price than on Amazon.

Pro tip: Be sure to check out the piles of books in front of the counter—that’s where you will find used books yet to be shelved.

If you want somewhere to relax …

A little off the beaten path, Crane Park is a lovely spot if you’re looking for outdoor relaxation and the perfect place to absorb some vitamin D! The park consists of eight lighted bocce ball courts, six lighted tennis courts, two Little League baseball fields, one lighted volleyball court, a playground, skate park, horseshoe pits, and picnic tables. It’s a great space to hang out, and on Friday mornings you can also enjoy the St. Helena Farmers Market (7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., May through October), featuring local produce, delicious food vendors, and artisanal goods.

Tip: Bring your Giugni’s sandwich to the park for the perfect afternoon picnic!

There are many other amazing places in St. Helena and within the Napa Valley; these are just a few of our favorites. We invite you to visit Pacific Union College and come experience our college and the Napa Valley for yourself! Fill out a visit request at, or call (800) 862-7080, option 2 to schedule your personalized tour.

A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

Sometimes you never know the impact a simple act of kindness can have! For JoAnn Bowen, who works as the executive assistant to the president’s office at PUC, helping a stranger one afternoon resulted in a $1,000 donation to the college. We asked her to share about her experience, and we hope her story is a wonderful reminder that you never know how much your actions can mean to others.

A year ago, a man who I later learned to be John O. Pohlmann was biking and had a breakdown–I was on my lunch break coming up the hill to Angwin from Pope Valley. I just happened to have my bike rack on my vehicle and I just happened to go home during lunch to check on my dog! I usually don’t do this since it’s far. So, I drove John directly to Rico Mundy’s (another PUC employee) house who, as an avid biker, was able to repair his bike gear and send John on his way back to Bothe Park, where he camps every year along with his wife, Lyn.

On Tuesday last week, in walks John and Lyn with a thousand dollar check to PUC in honor of me! He said they just wanted to show their appreciation for the goodwill and helpfulness you can still find in the world today.

John is a retired adjunct history professor; he spent 53 years working in the California State Colleges through his career. The last place he worked was California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif. His lovely wife is a retired piano teacher.

We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Pohlmanns for their generosity to PUC.

Looking for inspiration for how you can spread everyday kindness? Read “Casual Kindness at PUC”, which has some suggestions for small acts you can incorporate in your everyday life that can help bring happiness to everyone you meet.

A Website Created Just For You!

As a high school senior, there’s a lot to keep track of when applying to colleges. In an attempt to make things easier for you, if you request information or apply to PUC, you will be given a personal PUC site that has a wealth of information on it, based upon what you tell us you’re interested in.

Personal Site 1

This site comes equiped with everything you could possibly need to help you become a PUC student. Along with information about your major, photos and videos of campus, you can learn about PUC’s study abroad opportunities, scholarships, varsity and intramurals sports, and so much more! You can also find links to follow PUC’s social media accounts or live chat with someone from our Enrollment Services office (business hours only) if you need help with anything, as well as access an application checklist to help you stay on track with the documents you need to submit.

The more information you provide us in your application or inquiry, the more you’ll learn whether PUC is the right fit for you. If you would like your own personal PUC site, fill out an inquiry form at or you can apply at – our application is always free!

We look forward to getting to know you!

Come See PUC on the Road!

Fair map 1

Fall travel season is already in full swing for PUC’s Enrollment Services office! Our counselors will be at over 100 college fairs across the country between now and Thanksgiving, and we would love a chance to meet and share about PUC with you! We’re looking forward to answering your questions about our academic programs, scholarships, financial aid, spiritual life on campus, social events, and so much more. We recommend reading our post “How to be a College Fair Pro” for a few tips on how to make the most out of your college fair experience.

We’ve already been at several fairs this month, but here’s a list of all the places we’re planning to be the next few weeks. (Please note, to view the images below at a higher resolution, please click the images.)

Fairs 1


Fairs 2

For more information, you can contact the Enrollment Services office at 800.862.7080 option 2 or email enroll@puc.eduWe hope to see you on the road!

Editor’s Note: Fair times, fair location, and our involvement is subject to change without notice.