By Juan Hidalgo 3rd
On Sept 18, 2010, I left my sunny SoCal home and began the 8-hour trek to Pacific Union College. On June 18, 2017, I will be walking across the stage as an official graduate of this college! My time at PUC has been a compilation of the best and most challenging years of my life. As I complete my undergraduate career, here is some advice I would like to leave you as a student, prospective student, interested person, or the fourth person reading this, my mom.
Be a “Yes” Man/Woman
In my time at PUC I have had the great opportunity of getting to know a variety of different people as well as hold a variety of different student leadership positions. This school presented me with an abundance of opportunities to get involved with student life and develop my leadership skills. When I first came here, I didn’t know how to get involved or if I really wanted to. Little by little, professors and fellow students began to ask me if I wanted to help with different events and/or hold different leadership positions. Hesitantly, I said yes and have never looked back. Each opportunity pushed me to get out of my introvert shell to the point where anyone reading this who has come to know me in my time at PUC will be surprised to know I classify myself as an introvert. Say “Yes.” Go and get involved. Whether becoming an officer for one of the many clubs we have on campus, getting a job in a department, or even running for an elected position in Student Association or Senate, you will thank yourself later.
Break Bread with Friends
The fact we are located in one of the culinary capitals of the world means there are plenty of great places, besides the Dining Commons, to ease your “hAngriness” or your “hAttitude”. You can build your own sandwich at Guigni’s Deli, slurp a delicious milk shake from Gott’s Roadside, or share a bomb.com margherita pizza from Tra Vigne. BUT, being that most of us are on a college student budget, this means you also get to make trips to Safeway and cook your own meals with friends once in awhile. Sometimes this means ramen in your room at 3 a.m., on the floor, while your roommate is up playing WOW (World of Warcraft) and sometimes you channel your inner Gordon Ramsey and make a whole potluck for your friends on Sabbath afternoon. Whatever it may be, I know some of the best memories I have at PUC are mixing ingredients, over a stove and around a table, sharing a meal with my friends.
Family is the Most Important Thing
If college is your first time away from home, you may experience one of two things. First, this may be the happiest time of your life as you are now a full-fledged adult and have finally realized you never needed your mom and dad anyway and they were only holding you back from your true potential as an independent, self-sufficient human being. OR, and this is the category I fell into, you may feel a little sad, maybe even a little alone. This is probably not due to the fact you are actually alone, but more so that you miss your parents or whomever you left back home. Let me assure you, there is nothing wrong with this, and yes, you can still be an adult and be homesick.
Hands down my favorite part of my experience here at PUC has been what I discovered when I felt most alone on this hill. You see, up here we have something I can’t fully explain to you, you simply have to experience it on your own. We call it “The PUC Family.” This family took me from Grainger Hall 209, crying on my first birthday away from home, to countless occasions of laughing until I cried. During my time here, the family has been through a lot of great times and a few very difficult times. We have laughed together, struggled through finals together, and mourned the loss of dear family members together. People often say we are kind of “stuck” up here on this hill, but let me tell you, being “stuck” has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. At PUC I have made family members who will last me a lifetime. I have met people who I can be real with, people I can cry with, people whom I love. So if you are nervous about leaving home, don’t worry, you’re coming to another one.
Juan will be graduating with degrees in psychology, Spanish, and nursing.
Trust God’s Timing and His Plan
There are times in your academic career, and in life in general, when you are going to be unsure. You are going to doubt yourself, you are going to stress, and you might want to switch your major from biology and pre-med to basket weaving with an emphasis in Ultimate Frisbee. That’s OK. You probably also will experience some form of failure. That’s OK too. I have found PUC has given me a good balance of success and “gut checks.” What I mean by that is, for all the good times I have had, there were less desirable times I also thank God for. I thank God because though things didn’t always go my way, though I didn’t always get the grade I wanted, and though I doubted myself and Him many times, I am stronger because of it.
There you have it, my “two cents” on a world-class experience at Pacific Union College. If you are a current student, enjoy it while it lasts, the end comes faster than expected. If you are a potential student, get ready for a life-changing experience academically and to be part of a new family. If you are neither, but simply an interested reader, I say “cheerio” and I hope you enjoyed. If you are my mom and are crying while reading this, I say “I love you and thank you and Dad for giving me the experience of a lifetime.”
Juan Hidalgo 3rd
Chief Student Ambassador
Senior Class President
It’s tradition at PUC for seniors to ring the historic Healdsburg Bell when they’ve finished their last final. Congratulations Juan!