Tag Archives: PUC alumni

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. 

 

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!

 

Alumni Profile: Dustin Baumbach

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PUC alum Dustin Baumbach is a Ph.D. student researching the hawksbill sea turtle. While documenting these endangered animals, Dustin and his research team found the documentation process frustrating. Instead of letting a small setback stop them, they developed an app to solve their problem, called TURT (Turtles Uniting Researchers and Tourists).

We asked Dustin to share about his experiences and how PUC helped give him the tools he needed to become successful.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Dustin Baumbach, a nature enthusiast, and academic. I enjoy scuba diving, snowboarding, and taking hikes through the forest. During the week, I enjoy working with colleagues to understand the ecology of hawksbill sea turtles and on the weekends, catching up with friends. I also enjoy the pursuit of learning something new and will never pass up the chance to do so, especially when it involves hands on learning. I am a technology geek and thus, enjoy technology based decision making using Geographic Information Systems. However, my interest in technology is not limited to this and also expands to any tool I can use to benefit my research or personal life.

What was your major at PUC?

I originally started off my first year as a biology major with a minor in computer science and then transferred into the environmental science program which was brand new the start of my second year and then realized chemistry would be a better minor to add with it.

What have you been up to since graduating?

After graduation, I immediately started graduate school at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in the department of Earth and Biological Sciences. During my first year, I spent most of my time learning about hawksbills throughout the world and spent that summer in Honduras collecting data. I now spend my summers in the Caribbean, scuba diving, collecting hawksbill observation, and morphological data.

Where did you get the idea for your app?

We originally started distributing turtle sightings sheets to the dive shops within my field site but quickly noticed they only filled them out while we were in town and not there during the school year. This prompted us to create a web-based map the various dive shops could upload turtle sightings to on a regular basis. However, we realized those dive shops and tourists may not have access to a computer immediately after a dive and therefore would benefit from the creation of a smartphone application.

Describe your typical workday.

A typical workday is highly variable. I am currently working on assessing the caloric value of sea turtle food items at Cal State University San Bernardino two days of the week, working on mass spectrometry the other two days of the week, then I head home to read the current literature about hawksbill foraging behavior. When I am not doing any of these activities, I frequently help teach classes for my advisor, help other students, and write various grants and papers.

What is the most enjoyable part of what you do? The most challenging?

The most enjoyable part of my graduate study is by far my summer research. Doing three dives per day, getting to interact with hawksbills knowing we will aid to help its population recovery by understanding more about this critically endangered species. However, the most challenging part of this is understanding how to work with, and educate, the general public, who may be against the project. This has been a challenge we have been working on for the past four years, but plan to continue in order to promote awareness of sea turtles and the importance in understanding more about their ecology.

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How did your time at PUC help prepare you for your career?

The time I spent at PUC was extremely valuable to help prepare me for graduate school. Several of my science classes taught me the self-motivation I needed to persevere in graduate school. Along with this, my biology and environmental science classes taught me the concepts needed to understand how to do research and how to think about an organism’s interaction with its environment. I appreciated how PUC required us to take a wide breadth of classes to increase life skills and general knowledge, helping me to deal with the non-biological portions of conservation biology.

What is the most important thing you learned during your time at PUC?

The most important thing I learned was the reward of self-motivation and hard work. I had to learn this the hard way (not meeting my expectations during my first couple of years), but with a little hard work and motivation, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. I know this sounds cheesy, but starting out with a GPA under 3.0 and then graduating with over a 3.0 is an example of this. A little hard work goes a long way.

Who was your favorite professor while you were at PUC and why?

This is a hard question, I had so many professors I feel were influential in my life but if I had to pick, I would have to choose Dr. Floyd Hayes. As one of the few students in the department of biology interested in attending graduate school in the natural sciences, he taught me how to do research by involving me in hands-on projects and helped me understand the joy of teaching by hiring me as his laboratory teaching assistant. I enjoyed learning in his classes and have always thought he deserves the Educator of the Year award! If students are struggling and come to him for help, he is very willing to work with the you, which is always something I have appreciated. To this day I still write to him asking for advice.

What is your favorite memory from PUC?

I have so many fond memories of PUC. However, my favorite memory from my time at PUC was watching the ‘pumpkin chuck’ during MOGtoberfest (Grainger Hall’s club). Living in the dorm and being a part of the Men of Grainger was such a fun experience. I met a lot of amazing, friendly people and have remained friends with some of them even after graduation. Other fond memories include going on hikes in the back 40, experiencing the beauty of fields of mustard and the blossoming trees, and, as every PUC student knows, eating at the amazing restaurants in the Napa Valley.

What advice would you give to young students?

My advice to students would be to never give up and to rely on your friends for support. Even though life may seem difficult and frustrating, keep your life goals in mind and know, as I stated earlier, with a little hard work and determination, it will all be worth it. Also, never pass up the opportunity to learn something new, you never know when it may become useful.

Dustin has also been featured in several articles by Loma Linda University. Read “Sea turtle app developed by student creates citizen-researchers” and “Loma Linda University researchers expand sea turtle research smartphone apps” to learn more about his process and how this app can help researchers around the world in their study of sea turtles.  

TURT (Turtles Uniting Researchers and Tourists) is available on iOs as well as on Android.

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Alumni Profile: Katie Aguilar

Katie Aguilar, who graduated in 2013 with a BFA in graphic design, currently works as a graphic designer on the creative services team at Netflix in Los Angeles, Calif. Below, Katie discusses her job at Netflix, her time at PUC, and advice she has for students wanting to follow in her footsteps.

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What is the most important thing you learned during your time at PUC?

What stands out the most is learning to listen. Whether it was in a class, a meeting, or somewhere in the stillness of the Back 40, if I just listened, I learned something. There’s always someone with a different perspective or approach I would miss if I didn’t just quiet down and listen. I need reminding of that now and again.

Who was your favorite professor while you were at PUC and why?

That’s hard because I grew very close to my professors in the department of visual arts. Most of my PUC experience was spent in Fisher Hall, where my professors were really easy to talk to and always willing to help me through a project and oftentimes, life. So there isn’t just one, there are four. Shout-out to Milbert Mariano, Cliff Rusch, Haley Wesley, and Brian Kyle!

How did your time at PUC prepare you for your career?

It’s the little efficiencies I picked up along the way from my teachers or peers. Keyboard shortcuts, organization, timeliness, the importance of prioritization. It was really surprising when I got out into the “real world” how much those small things played such a big role in my day-to-day and made things run smoother.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job? The most challenging?

The most enjoyable part of my job is knowing I bring value to my team. We use these buzz phrases like “freedom and responsibility,” and it’s true, I have the freedom to work in a way that makes sense to me, the freedom to grow, to learn, to test new ideas and ask questions. My responsibilities to my team are for me to perform at my very best and I really enjoy being in an environment where I can thrive. That’s also the challenging part, I have the freedom to take my career where I want to, so it’s up to me to use my time wisely and make the most out of every opportunity.

What advice would you give for other young aspiring designers?

Some advice I’d give any aspiring designer:

  1. Talk to your professors! Get to know them! They’re such a valuable resource and can help you get through the creative fog you’ll inevitably have during projects.
  2. Be aware of what’s out there. Find out what other designers are doing, what new software is coming out that could improve or change the way you think about design.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try crazy ideas.
  4. Don’t limit yourself to one area of design. Lately all the job postings I’ve seen are looking for a jack of all trades. You don’t need to be an expert in every Adobe product but knowing some fundamentals can come in really handy later on.

Go for it! The only real limit to how far you can go is often set by you. Don’t be afraid of messing up or not getting the exact result you wanted. Just keep going for it. You’ll surprise yourself how far you really go.

Alumni Profile: Ashley Kim

Students at PUC are exposed to incredible opportunities which allow them to help make the world a better place. Ashley Kim is one of those students. As a communication major at PUC, Ashley met and took classes from journalism professor Susan Dix Lyons, from whom she learned about Clinica Verde and made a decision that has not only changed her life, but others around the world.

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PUC alum Ashley Kim.

Currently, Ashley works as the Executive Assistant for Clinica Verde, a non-profit organization which focuses on preventive healthcare through a whole-health approach to care, beginning with nutrition education and sustainable farming by providing an organic crop production and agriculture learning space for the local community. In 2007, Clinica Verde opened a health clinic in rural Nicaragua and since then, they have provided over 55,500 medical consults, with their focus on providing care for the Nicaraguan mothers and children living in poverty. Their HIGHER Program takes interested students on medical trips to Nicaragua four different times during a year and are currently working with the PUC Missions Department to set up potential trips.

What was your major at PUC, and how did it prepare you for current job?

I was a double major at PUC, intercultural communications and Spanish. Both majors prepared me well for my position at Clinica Verde. Through my communication major, I learned the importance of communicating effectively and on a timely basis, which is so important when being in contact with multiple businesses or individuals via email, phone, or social media. Specifically in the intercultural aspect, I learned how people with different cultural backgrounds communicate in various ways. This has been especially helpful because working stateside yet having our clinic in Nicaragua, I have come in contact with individuals who carry different cultural communication styles and I was able to better navigate myself through conversation because of my knowledge of what may be culturally appropriate or not.  What I’m most excited for however, is going to Nicaragua and visiting the clinic in the near future and using my Spanish along the way.

Susan Dix Lyons was your professor at PUC how did that relationship lead to a job?

Susan Dix Lyons was my Newswriting and Reporting professor at PUC. Upon taking her class and seeing how invested she was in her students, I knew instantly I wanted to continue working with Susan in whatever way I could. A year after taking her class, I sent Susan an email with hopes to intern for her and Clinica Verde but I was very anxious because I didn’t have much experience at the time. Thankfully, Susan immediately responded with an excited and warm response that she would love to work with me and even mentioned a journalism piece I wrote during her class. Although I’m now graduated and working for Susan, I continue to learn from her on a daily basis. Just like when she was my professor at PUC, Susan guides me and helps me grow professionally and intellectually.

What has been PUC’s involvement with Clinica Verde over the years?

PUC students have been great supporters of Clinica Verde for the past few years! Several teams in Professor Michelle Rai’s Fundraising class launched successful fundraising campaigns to support the cause and PUC alums Daniel DeCaires and Suwanna Vantananan continue to serve the organization. PUC Senior Jayson Paw was also an intern for Clinica Verde last spring. In addition, PUC’s Off-Road Triathlon was developed in partnership with Clinica Verde and serves as a benefit to support the work the clinic does serving mothers and children living in poverty.

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PUC alum Daniel DeCaires assists with a checkup at the clinic.

Tell us about the GivingGrid Campaign and its goals.

The GivingGrid campaign is one of our current fundraisers. Our goal is to raise $8,100 for our Prenatal Nutrition Program which supports expectant mothers, and provides them education about the care and nourishment of their babies during and after pregnancy. While $8,100 seem like a small amount, it will go a long way in Nicaragua. The program will work with pregnant women from rural communities to teach fetal development and maternal and child nutrition through presentations, activities, and use of our bio-intensive garden. We just completed our pilot of the program and our hoping to continue this work to transform the lives of the mothers and children we serve. The GivingGrid campaign is an interactive way our supporters can join our cause. Supporters simply click a square with the amount they wish to give and add a picture! Also, supporters who give $100 or more will receive an etched brick on the Clinica Verde grounds in Nicaragua.

If you could go back in time and tell your freshman self one thing, what would it be?

If I could go back and tell my freshman self one thing, it would be to never be afraid of reaching out to our PUC professors. One of the greatest advantages of attending PUC is our professors truly care about their students’ success and want to help in whatever way possible. People may be surprised with how many opportunities I received by simply sending an email to a professor. I now have lasting, close friendships with many of my professors and know I can still reach out to them for help and they’ll always respond warmly.

Editor’s Note: Visit www.clinicaverde.org if you’re interested in learning more about Clinica Verde or how to get involved in the HIGHER program.

If you feel compelled to donate to the GivingGrid Campaign, you can donate at www.givinggrid.com/clinicaverde.

Alumni Profile: Andy Bishop

There are over 26,000 PUC alumni spread throughout the world, and we’re proud of each and every one of them and their accomplishments. Andy Bishop is a 2010 PUC graduate living in San Diego and working with various sports media outlets and organizations.

I asked Andy to share with us his experiences and advice for anyone looking into media-related careers.

You have two jobs; being a real-time correspondent for Major League Baseball (MLB) and a production assistant for Fox Sports San Diego. Tell us a little bit about both.

For my job with MLB, I work a majority of Padres games at Petco Park in San Diego. My main objective is to gather content for MLB and the two respective ball clubs, mostly pictures for their Twitter and Instagram accounts. I have the freedom to go around the ballpark and report on anything interesting or unique at any given game.

With Fox Sports San Diego, I work on a show on which I primarily help produce a weekly feature. This involves everything from coordinating a shoot to working as a second cameraman to assisting with editing on the backend. Additionally, I do miscellaneous projects for the crews producing the Padres games on a daily basis.

Andy (left), in action.

Andy (left), in action.

Describe to me what it took for you to get to where you are.

In a word, persistence. A ton of people want to work in the sports industry; there just aren’t that many jobs. I didn’t exactly help my pursuit by moving to San Diego right after attending PUC, without establishing much of a connection base beforehand. It’s taken me five good years of work experience to get a solid network and to get my foot in the door with some big companies.

Something else I can’t stress enough is support. It would have been easy for me at times to just give up and settle for a job in another industry. I can’t tell you how many amazing friends and family members have encouraged me throughout the process. They have believed in me when most others haven’t, and that’s been essential in my growth as an on-air personality.

How did your major at PUC prepare you for both of your jobs?

The importance of preparation is one of the biggest things I took away from my business and communication majors. I had to do a lot of speeches and presentations in college, and like most people, I would feel the nerves a bit. But the times when I really knew my material and took it to heart were the times I performed better. The same goes for when I’m doing something on camera now. While I have certainly gotten a lot more comfortable talking when the pressure is on, I am far more articulate and confident when I’ve done my homework.

One other component that my studies in communication taught me was to smile. Not enough people do it. Most of us naturally don’t smile and are fairly monotone when talking in front of people. So it’s something you definitely have to work on. You really have to critique yourself and make it point to think about smiling. It becomes a lot more natural over time.

Describe your typical work day.

I have lot of variety in my work days, which is good because I’m not the greatest at sitting in an office cubicle all day. I’m definitely at my best when I’m on the move in some form or fashion.

Most days on the job I do a decent chunk of work from the office: phone calls, emails, editing, meetings, etc. Normally a day or two a week I’m able to head out into the beautiful city of San Diego and help with shooting a feature for Fox Sports. About every other week I’m going to Padres games and roaming around the ballpark at night. In time, I definitely want to do more work out of the office.

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What have you done so far in your professional career that you are most proud of?

I think I’m most proud of the fact that I have stayed true to myself. It is so easy to get caught up in trying to prove yourself to people and/or trying to please people. I have certainly gone through stages where that took more of my focus than it should have. But thankfully, there has been a good maturation process for me in knowing who I am and what I can offer.

A big part of why I’ve been able to stay true to myself is that I’ve been continually humbled and grounded. This is not to say that I’m a complete failure (only a partial one), but I’ve lived long enough to know I’m not the greatest thing since fish tacos. I lot of awesome experiences and individuals have helped me keep a pretty good head on my shoulders.

In the sports industry there is SO MUCH arrogance, ego, and individualism. As a man of faith, I’m very driven to be the opposite of that. I certainly have to be confident and persistent in what I’m trying to do, but man, there is a bigger picture. So along the way I am very committed to sharing others’ awesome stories, creating and sustaining good relationships, and appreciating the journey.

If you could go back in time and tell your freshman self one thing, what would it be?

I would tell my freshman self to be more active in pursuing jobs and internships while in school. I just didn’t realize how hard it was going to be after college to 1) find work and 2) establish myself. There are zero Adventist connections in the sports media world, and about 99.9% of the people have never heard of Pacific Union College. That was a bit of a barrier. I would have been better off getting connected in San Diego earlier, or at the very least doing some sort of summer internship or job in a bigger sports market.

With that said, I’m not much of a woulda, coulda, shoulda guy. So I’m thankful for the solid education I got while at PUC. I’m better off because of the process that it has taken to get here. I’m doing a lot of fun things in the city that I love and feel called to be in. While I still have a long way to go, I’m confident that some really good things are to come in the near future.

What advice do you have for students considering getting into sports broadcasting/reporting?

Only do it if you love it. I started at PUC thinking I was going to pursue medicine, but then in spring quarter my freshman year I found what drove me. Thanks to Rosemary Collins’ Intro to Speech Communication class I realized I felt a certain ease when speaking in front of others. Everything that went into it – the research, the memorization, talking to myself in front of the mirror, sharing stories/speeches to the class – got me excited. Nearly a decade later it is similar types of opportunities with reporting and broadcasting that drive me professionally.

I would also encourage people to keep an open mind about what their career calling is. I think it’s best to keep some options open and try different things. Thankfully, what I dreamed up my freshman year has proven to be what’s best suited for me. As you get more experience during and after college, you have to find your niche and form a personal brand of sorts. But ultimately, I feel you should just be who you are and work your tail off to get what you want. Don’t forget that the most satisfaction professionally will come from the relationships you create and the moments you share with others. Don’t be so concerned about the fast track to success.

Alumni Profile: Tad Worku

At PUC we encourage our students to take chances, strive for their dreams and find where God is leading them. Tad Worku’s journey led him back to PUC where he’s combined his inspiring musical gift with his desire to help and uplift his community. This February 28th he will be performing with the Oakland East Bay Symphony, and all proceeds from the concert will go directly to fund a free health clinic sponsored by PUC.

We spoke with Tad and asked him to share a little about his journey.

You’ve graduated before, what degrees do you hold and what are you going to school for currently?

I have a degree in Business Marketing and an Associates Degree in Nursing. I am currently in the BSN program and I finish in June!

Why did you choose PUC?

PUC has always been home for me. I was born at St. Helena Hospital and grew up in Angwin. I had great memories growing up around PUC and when it came time to choose a college, it was a pretty easy decision to make.

Tad Worku

Music is a huge part of your professional life, tell us about that.

My journey with music has been a very interesting one. After I graduated in 2008, I moved to San Francisco to pursue a career as a professional musician. I got my first break in 2009, when I was given an opportunity to headline at Yoshi’s San Francisco. We sold out the show and from there things started to pick up. Over the next few years, I performed multiple shows, wrote music for other artists, and finished a full-length album.

During this time, I began to question the direction I was heading as a pop/soul artist. There were things that didn’t fit with what I valued and I found myself conflicted. I had always dreamed about making a successful career out of music, but something deep down inside was telling me that this wasn’t the direction for me. This was a time in my life that really tested my faith and after wrestling with the situation, I decided to walk away from my completed pop/soul album and return the substantial amount of tour funding I had just received. I started praying about what I would do next and doors opened for me to study nursing. A few weeks later I was back at PUC taking pre-requisites to get into the Nursing program.

While in the Nursing program, I began writing music again, this time with strong Christian themes and stories that reflected my recent journey. Soon, I had developed enough songs for a new project and began to see possibilities opening back up in the area of music. Through a long list of providential encounters, I found myself talking with Michael Morgan, the director of the Oakland East Bay Symphony, about performing this new Christian project with the Oakland Symphony. He thought this would be a great idea – and the rest is history as they say.

Love Is All

Tell us how you plan to use both your music and healthcare skills.

At first, I had absolutely no idea how music and healthcare could be related. It wasn’t until I started sharing my vision of using music to contribute towards a larger cause that I began to discover how these two areas might be related. I remember sitting in Mark Ishikawa’s office (Director of Alumni Relations at PUC) and telling him about my vision of using music to really live out the Gospel. During our conversation, Mark mentioned the work that Adventist Medical Evangelism Network was doing, providing free medical, dental, and vision clinics for high risk populations. This idea inspired me to see how music could fit into this model. I decided to use all of the proceeds from my music to help fund and build an infrastructure to do this type of medical mission work on a larger scale.

My goal is to use the resources and influence provided through music to help create an infrastructure and build a network of providers for the purpose of giving much needed medical services to those in desperate need. My plan is to develop this concept into a model and duplicate it in as many different places as possible.

What inspired you to come up with the idea for the Love is All concert?

After giving up my career in pop music, I decided whatever I would do next would be something connected to my faith and values. I chose Nursing because it would give me the ability to directly serve those in need. When the opportunity presented itself to get back into music, I knew exactly how I wanted to use my stage. I knew that connecting the proceeds from the concert to a free clinic for those in need would be a powerful way of showing what the Gospel of Jesus Christ looks like today. This was my motivation behind the idea.

Tell us why this cause is so important to you.

I believe our generation has the ability to make a huge impact on this planet and also share the good news of the Gospel in creative and innovative ways. I want to create or contribute to an infrastructure that helps my generation dream about ways we can impact this world. I know this event is just a small seed, but my hope is that people would be inspired by this and help the story continue far past this event.

You have a very interesting professional story transitioning from music to healthcare. In what ways have PUC faculty and staff helped you get here?

I have received so much support from PUC faculty and staff. When I decided to come back to school, I talked with the Nursing department about what it would take to get into the program and they were extremely helpful and encouraged me along the way. Laffit Cortez, the former chaplain, gave me an opportunity to speak for Student Week of Prayer to share how I ended up back at PUC. Both Mark and Walter Collins (Vice President for Advancement) mentored me and helped me develop the framework for the Love Is All Concert and Clinic. There are so many others who have been such a big support and encouragement to me.

If you could go back in time and tell your freshman self one thing, what would it be?

I probably would have told myself not to be afraid to completely follow God.  Back then, I thought I would miss out on a lot if I chose to follow God completely.

What are your plans for 2015?

I want to finish recording an album. I have waited for the right opportunity and resources to come together and I think it is finally the right time to get it done. I plan on doing more concerts and health clinics and I am also exploring some opportunities to begin working as a nurse.

Tickets for the Love Is All concert are still available! Visit tadworku.com to purchase yours and for more information.