Category Archives: My PUC Story

Faces of PUC: Lewis Govea

Lewis Govea is a voice/pre-pharmacy major and has been at PUC for three years. This year he decided to become a student leader and joined the Student Association team as the social vice president which means he spends all this free time planning fun events for you! As one of the most friendly people on the PUC campus, you might already know him but just in case, we thought we would ask him a few questions.

What is your dream job?

My dream job would be to be a pharmacist while also being a private singer for hire, maybe even have a private teaching studio.

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

I wanted to be a judge, then an architect. Neither one was very interesting to me, but my new career path is exciting, always changing, and in an area that will constantly challenge what I think I know. I love how passionate it makes me feel.

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

My favorite thing about my pioneers family is the support system we have created for each other on this hill and the personal relationships I have fostered in my time here.

Where is your favorite place in the world?

My favorite place in the world is anywhere there are people that I love. 

What show are you binge-watching right now?

I just finished binge-watching Steven Universe. It’s an incredible cartoon that covers some fairly controversial topics. I love Rebecca Sugar, and her show deserves to be watched.

What is something you’re passionate about?

I am passionate about music and being a positive influence in my community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faces of PUC: Becky St. Clair

Becky St. Clair and her family moved to PUC two years ago when her husband accepted a librarian position. Coming from years at Andrews University, she is still getting used to the many many warm days we experience here in Sunny California. Becky spends most of her workdays in the department of music and Paulin Center for the Arts where she works as the office manager. She also contract writes for the public relations office. 

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

My husband brought me here. He was hired as a librarian on campus, and shortly after we arrived I started freelance writing for the college. My background is in PR (a dozen years or so), so it was a good fit. Since then I’ve taken the position in the department of music, which allows me to use all the skills I’ve learned in my various jobs as an adult, plus I get to be around musicians all day. They’re my people and I love them.

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

 I love that so many PUC employees care deeply about the college. They go to great lengths to find solutions to problems, make improvements to their areas, and generally make PUC a better place to live, work, and go to school.  

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

I recently discovered Tarla in Napa, and I’m rather in love … just not with the prices. Lol! So I will do appetizers or dessert there with a friend or on date night with the hubster (don’t tell him I called him that), but if I’m going to eat out, it’s definitely going to be Calistoga Thai Kitchen. They’re never busy and their curry is fantastic. Insider tip: Tarla has an appetizer of cheese with apricots … that they serve EN FLAMBE. If that doesn’t make you feel fancy, I don’t know what will. And their Turkish coffee is phenomenal, plus it’s served in a gorgeous Turkish coffee cup with a saucer! 

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

I was a voice and percussion double minor in college, and my favorite instrument to play is the marimba. 

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

I know this is old hat, but I love A Million Dreams (and all the other songs) from The Greatest Showman. I could also listen to Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium or Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque or Maurice Ravel’s Pavane pour une infant défunte or even David Holsinger’s Abram’s Pursuit on repeat all day. I know I cheated on this question … sorry!  

Who is someone you admire and why? 

A former boss-turned-mentor of mine from my first-ever PR job. She took me into her office many times and asked how I was doing, what I wanted to do with my career, where I saw myself in ten years, and how she could help me get there. She modeled (and still models) true, meaningful leadership and taught me how to be a professional and a mom, while still also being true to my own self. She listened well, asked thoughtful questions, and had a killer sense of humor. She had a firm grasp of what was happening in all areas under her purview but trusted everyone in their roles to do their jobs and do them well. She wasn’t afraid of difficult conversations or challenging projects, deadlines, or goals; in fact, she encouraged me to shoot for the moon, never stop learning, and to find growth opportunities in every situation. I want to be like her when I grow up. 

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

Snuggled into the corner of my couch, coffee in one hand, book in another. And I can promise you it won’t be the same book two Sundays in a row!

 

Meet Your Student Chaplain

Lorenzo Pena is one of PUC’s student chaplains this year and he’s more than happy to help you in any way you need whether it’s praying for you when you’re in need of extra help, chatting with you about your spiritual journey, or just a smiling face around campus. Lorenzo is passionate about God’s love and serving others. Here’s your chance to get to know a little about Lorenzo and next time you see him around campus, say hi! 

What made you want to be a student chaplain? 

My family has always instilled in me the value of serving God and to share my gifts to be a blessing to those around me. One of the most important things in life is to serve others. I wanted to be able to share the blessings God has given me with PUC in order to bring others closer to God or to walk with them on their own journeys. 

What are you responsible for as a student chaplain? 

 As a student chaplain, my most important task is to be a huge supporter of the spiritual life on campus. This means not only to help plan the big spiritual events on campus, but to also help students in their own ministry whether it be helping students start a bible study or small group, doing devotions with people, or just being a listening ear for someone going through any kind of situation. 

What are the challenges you have as a student chaplain? 

My biggest challenge as a student chaplain is I am not always able to reach people on this campus in a way that fits in with their spiritual walk, but that is perfectly fine. A person’s journey with God is unique and the ways people like to worship are different, but this is why it is important for me to be a supporter for those who are trying to fill a need or gap that they see in the spiritual life on campus. It is my job to help everyone to be able to find or access whatever it may be that enables them to grow with Christ. 

What would you like to do to strengthen spiritual life on campus? 

I would like to strengthen the spiritual community here on campus not only with the students but also with the faculty and staff. I want to have PUC be known as a safe place where anyone can feel completely comfortable sharing their life experiences and testimonies with others. Everyone deserves to have a safe place to be able to open up to others and be met with open arms. 

What advice do you have for someone that is struggling with their spiritual life? 

I have had many struggles in my spiritual life and I still have struggles in my life now, but the best thing I have found is I cannot do anything alone. It is important to know God is always with me, but even more than that, He surrounds me with so many wonderful people, including my friends, family, teachers, and a church family that are there to support me and care greatly about me. I used to think I could do everything on my own and that is just not the case. I need to be able to lean on those around me whenever I am feeling lost or alone and I need to be there for someone else to lean on whenever they need it. God puts people in our lives for a reason. 

What do you love about PUC? 

I love that PUC has so many wonderful students that are so passionate about loving God and serving others. I see this not only in the faculty, staff, and student leaders, but in all the students I see finding ways to get involved in ministry, hanging out with their friends, helping other students with studies, and so many other things. We have great people here at PUC and I am proud to be one of them. 

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

My favorite place to eat in the Napa Valley is Giugnis Deli. 

What shows are you watching right now? 

The shows I am watching right now are 911, Hawaii 5-0, and Chicago Fire/Med/PD. 

What is your favorite class that you have taken at PUC? 

My favorite class I have taken at PUC was History of Western Art. 

What is your favorite weekend activity? 

My favorite weekend activity is taking a trip down to Napa and go to Target, Home Depot, and Taco Bell.

 

Faces of PUC: Nephtali Marin

Nephtali Marin has been at PUC for the past four years seeking a BFA in film and tends to leave a lasting impression on everyone he meets. While forgetting him is not likely to happen, he wanted to make sure he didn’t slip your mind while he spends the year serving as a student missionary in Brazil. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder but just in case you’re starting to forget our friend Nephta, or haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him just yet, we asked him a couple of questions to help everyone get to know him better. And since he’s busy acclimating to life in a different country, try not to judge him for his short answers (even though we might just a little🤣). 

What is your dream job?

DoP (Director of Photography) for narrative films. But honestly, I’m still figuring this out …

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

Well, I wanted to be a doctor so I’d say it’s pretty different. I probably won’t be saving lives, but hey you never know! 

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

We are all equal. Whether you are a 4th year, 1st year, or faculty, I’ve never felt like there is a hierarchy. We all experience similar ups and downs which help us become close.  

Where is your favorite place in the world?

My Abuelitas house on thanksgiving. 

What show are you binge-watching right now?

My Hero Academia 

What is something you’re passionate about?

Making people laugh.

Recommend a place in the Bay Area to visit on a weekend.

Dolores Park in San Francisco. 

 

Visit PUC This Winter!

Choosing what college to attend is a very important decision and one you shouldn’t make without doing a lot of research. There really is no better way to research colleges than by seeing the campus yourself. Grab your family or some friends and come visit PUC. Take a campus tour given by one of our student ambassadors, sit in on a class, chat with a professor, eat in our cafeteria, walk around the charming nearby towns of St. Helena or Calistoga, AND if you plan in advance, join us for any of the following upcoming and exciting events.

Pioneers Athletics Games

PUC has six varsity sports teams: cross country, basketball, and volleyball for women; and cross country, basketball, and soccer for men. Throughout the year, we invite you to our gymnasium, nicknamed the “Covered Wagon,” or our soccer field to join the Pioneers Posse and cheer on our teams. Here’s a short list of a few upcoming games; for the full schedule, visit pioneersathletics.com

  • Men’s Basketball vs La Sierra, Dec. 19, 7 p.m.
  • Women’s Basketball vs La Sierra, Jan. 9, 5:30 p.m.
  • Men’s Basketball vs La Sierra, Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m.

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Rasmussen Art Gallery Openings

If you’re interested in seeing some incredible works of art, you won’t want to miss the Rasmussen Art Gallery. Several times a quarter, a new exhibit opens at the college’s on-campus art gallery, which often features students, faculty, and other local artists. The opening reception is a chance to meet the artists, mingle with other guests, and enjoy some tasty snacks while appreciating the talent on display. If you can’t make it to one of the opening receptions, check with your tour guide to be sure to stop by and spend some time browsing during regular open hours. 

  •  Natalie Ciccoricco, Awaking West, Jan. 11-Feb. 9
  • Faculty Art Show, Literatura, Feb. 15-March 15 

For more information, visit the Rasmussen Art Gallery Facebook page

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Paulin Hall Music Concerts

PUC’s department of music has many concerts throughout the year; all of which are free to the public. The college has several ensembles that frequently perform, and there are usually multiple student recitals each quarter. For the Christmas holiday, there are several concerts we hope you can join us for! 

  • Christmas Candlelight Concert #1, Friday, Dec. 6, 8 p.m.
  • Christmas Candlelight Concert #2, Saturday, Dec. 7, 4 p.m.

Contact the department of music for more information; call (707) 965-6201 or email music@puc.edu.

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Join Us For February College Days!

Several times a year, we host special visitation events called College Days. College Days is a jam-packed event where you will experience PUC with other visiting students. In addition to campus visit standards like touring the campus, talking with a professor in your major of interest, and eating in our Dining Commons, it’s a great opportunity to get a glimpse into what it’s really like to be a student at PUC as you stay in one of the residence halls and attend social and academic events. 

We hope you can make plans to join us for College Days on February 9-11, 2020. Register now! For more information about College days and other ways to visit, check out puc.edu/visitors.

 

We can spend hours explaining what we think makes life at PUC so unique and honestly, we really would be happy to, but nothing beats experiencing it firsthand, so schedule your visit today! 

Before you arrive, be sure to apply and send in your admissions documents for a quick acceptance! It will make your visit even more special as you officially become a member of the Pioneers family.

 

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. 

 

Faces of PUC: Sebastian Anderson

You may recognize this week’s #FacesOfPUC. His name is Sebastian Oliver Anderson and he’s the Student Association Executive Vice President. Sebastian is a junior in the department of visual arts focused on graphic design. In his spare time, he sometimes designs for the public relations office and is responsible for some incredible designs including the PUC bus wraps and this year’s PUC t-shirt! 

What is your dream job?

Growing up, I always wanted to be a roller coaster designer, but I think as I discovered my passion for graphic design and my strong interest in the film industry, I would really like to design movie posters, intro sequences, and other design elements necessary for film. I’m also interested in web design and UI/UX design!

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

I love the community I have here, especially my visual arts family in Fisher Hall! I am so thankful for my department.

Where is your favorite place in the world?

Right now, it is definitely Asia. I got to go on a tour two summers ago where I visited Singapore, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. I also got to spend two weeks in Malaysia with my girlfriend’s family and friends, and I can’t wait to go back.

What show are you binge-watching right now?

I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls with my mom! It’s a fun show and it’s nice to be able to spend time with her. 

What is something you’re passionate about?

I really want to make an actual, meaningful change here at PUC by the time I graduate. One of my biggest pet peeves is when my friends complain about issues on campus and have no initiative to try and seek a solution. I hope through my role as EVP, I can seek and find our student body’s strength in order to create an even better PUC.

Recommend a place in the Bay Area to visit on a weekend.

Mendocino is a beautiful little town only a few minutes away from Fort Bragg—where I live—and from our Albion Field Station! It has beautiful beaches—they are Norcal beaches, so don’t expect sun—and a lot of cute stores to visit. There’s even an ice cream store with mushroom ice cream!