My PUC Story: Taylor Pittenger

By Andrea James

Taylor Pittenger is a recent PUC graduate who earned a degree in religion and returned to the college for her secondary school teaching credentials. However, she was initially drawn to PUC’s excellent journalism program. In her words, “I absolutely adored doing journalism and writing for the Campus Chronicle, and felt I was really excelling, but I had a big moment where I felt God was calling me to do something more.”

Taylor felt God wanted her to help people spiritually, but was torn between pastoral work and teaching. She thought about which path would allow her to make the greatest impact on students. “I felt if I became a teacher, I would be able to make a bigger impact on them and see their spiritual growth happen on a day-to-day basis”

Taylor interned with the youth pastor at the Loma Linda University Church in the summer of 2016. The experience helped her realize how much she loved to work with youth and talk about God with them. “It was life-changing. Before, I felt a little insecure about going into this field because I felt I was not qualified; I felt I wasn’t good enough. I would look at my peers in the department of theology and I would see them preaching, I would see them doing Bible studies, and I would see how smart they were when it came to Biblical ideas. I felt like I was inadequate. But when I was in that room with my students—actually in that space—and when I’m teaching, I felt like this is exactly where I need to be. I have an opportunity to disciple young people. I think what’s lost in our church is we keep saying the youth are the future; they’re the future of the church; but I think that’s only half true; they are the present of the church as well.”

Taylor finds comfort in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (NIV).

“That one verse is something I really believe in. It makes me think, ‘It doesn’t matter what age you are, what ethnicity, what gender you are.’ I think we are all children of God and everyone should have an opportunity to experience God’s love and God’s grace. I think it’s easy for us to shut people out because we disagree with them. No matter where you are on the political spectrum, on the religious spectrum—no matter where you are on that, it’s easy for us to say ‘Oh, you’re one of them? I’m not going to listen to you. I really want to make an effort to listen to other people because I think when we take time to actually listen to what other people have to say regardless of what their views are, you get a sense of humanizing them and you create an empathetic relationship with that person. For me, even though I might disagree with somebody else, I still want to know; I still want to learn what is on their hearts. I feel like I’ve really grown as a person because I learned and took time to listen. It’s better—I think it’s important to not just hear people, but to actually listen to people; I think there’s a big difference with that.”

Overall, Taylor has enjoyed being a part of the spiritual, diverse PUC community and is sad to be leaving once she earns her credentials. “PUC is a place where my relationship with God flourished. I had a relationship with God before I was here, but ever since I’ve been here, it’s been a journey where I felt like God always had my back through every step of the way. He called me to different places and showed me different people in my life I needed. I’m just grateful I had this opportunity to be in a place I think God wanted me to be.”

My PUC Story: Dominique Townsend

By Andrea James

Dominique Townsend is currently a junior at PUC, studying English with an emphasis in literature and a minor in writing. Dominique decided to attend PUC after visiting during College Days when she was a high school senior. In her words, “It just sort of clicked. It felt like homesomewhere where I was comfortable.” She applied and was accepted to PUC, receiving the Maxwell Scholarship and entering the Honors program.

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So far, Dominique has thrived at PUC. She gets plenty of support from her teachers and classmates. In the Honors program, she gets to “experience a wide range of classes that are taught in interdisciplinary ways” to help her connect what she’s learning with her life and her future.

Dominique sees PUC as quiet yet connected. She appreciates the close, familial atmosphere of the PUC community. In her words, “We might not always know all of the goings-on in each other’s lives, but when something happens to one of our own, we band together to share their joy, sympathize with their sadness, and protect their rights to be who they are.”

Her favorite part of PUC is that “every day [here] is like having [a] mountaintop experience with God. We’re literally at the top of a mountain, and it’s beautiful. I think all of the nature and the scenery up here just points right back to our Wonderful Creator.”

Dominique is a very active and passionate member of the PUC community. She’s the president of PUC’s chapter of the English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta, and the secretary and co-founder of Thaumatrope, a club focusing on serving others. She’s also the head editor of Quicksilver and works as a teacher’s assistant in the department of English and occasionally tutors at the Teaching and Learning Center.

Dominique has clearly made use of the opportunities and resources available at PUC. She has pushed herself to achieve, to be creative, to improve spiritually, and to use her talents and skills to help others.

She says, “Looking back on my life, I think my college experience will probably be the period of the most change for me. I’ve made new friends, [I’ve] experienced a lot more things, I’ve picked up some new hobbies, I’ve seen myself grow academically and spirituallyand I think that those are positive aspects I’ll take out into the world when I graduate.”

My PUC Story: Alice Chen

By Andrea James

Alice Chen is a junior and business major at PUC. When she was little, she used to help with her mother’s business—people loved her and her cute smile. Alice loves business because “I get to serve people and get the satisfaction from helping customers.” She believes that everything is related to business. “No matter what you become, you’re going to always have to deal with money, so business is a life skill I think everyone should have and I want to focus on.”

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Alice Chen at PUC’s Albion Retreat & Learning Center

Alice Chen transferred to PUC as a sophomore from China. Her family is Seventh-day Adventist and her brother attended the school first. He then recommended it to Alice because of her fervent belief in Adventism and her strong faith in God. She has become a very active member of the PUC community. For example, she’s the president of the Asian Student Association (ASA) and a member of the Student Senate. She recently tried to start up a new club celebrating multiculturalism. She also plays tennis, runs, and sometimes plays intramurals. How does she balance all of her responsibilities, all of the demands on her time?

She says, “I pray a lot … I try to do what I can do and take it one step at a time every day. I learned recently I should live in the moment and not look back at the past or worry about the future but enjoy what I have today … When you see everything all at once and what you have to do, it can be very overwhelming sometimes. Try to do as much as you can and give the rest to God.” She also exercises and tries to take care of herself as part of having a balanced life.

Alice enjoys the events at PUC and the many opportunities for service in the community. For example, she attended FUSION, a retreat for freshmen held during New Student Orientation in the fall despite transferring to PUC as a sophomore and greatly enjoyed it. She met many other Graf Hall residents at the event and generally got to know her fellow students. She also likes that there are mission and volunteer opportunities to help students not only grow academically but also as a person and a Christian.

The people at PUC have made a particular impression on Alice’s life and her PUC experience. Her friends at PUC became her family and her teachers became her mentors. When she was feeling the most down about herself, one professor told her not to focus on the big picture or overthink everything, but rather to break things apart into smaller, more manageable pieces. They recommended Alice “just do whatever you can, at this moment, today.” The speech resonated with her and helped her a lot. In the course of her time at PUC, Alice has gained a lot of confidence and become better able to handle stress and to destress.

“I know that I myself can be courageous. And I can be strong, as well, when I rely on God,” she says.