The Women’s Volleyball Team Shows Pioneers Spirit

By Richie Silie 

Times are difficult and that is a fact. But even in the midst of a global pandemic, our student athletes are finding ways to be good “teammates” to our surrounding communities. 

Members of our women’s volleyball team made the decision to volunteer at the COVID-19 testing site in Yountville, Calif. These ladies didn’t just help at the mobile clinic, they also passed out food, toiletries, and various personal health items to families in need. Overcoming challenges and working as a team are part of an athlete’s everyday life so it was no surprise to see the selflessness of our Pioneers. These incredible young people lead our athletics department by shining their light “all around the neighborhood.” 

The #PUCPioneersNation has really stepped up and shown they are proudly part of the larger Napa Valley community. Though we are more than ready to have all our students back on campus and regain a sense of normalcy, we are blessed to give back in as many ways as possible because that IS the Pioneers way! 

Follow us on Instagram at @pucpioneers!

PUC’s Department of Nursing Redefines the Clinical Experience for Students

The nursing profession as a whole is fundamentally about patient care so when teaching nursing students, interacting with patients is of the utmost importance. In the spring, when Napa County received shelter-in-place orders, the typical clinical experiences for PUC nursing students needed to be reimagined. 

Professor of nursing Tamara Tirado found an alternative to the norm: virtual clinical experiences that focus on real-life nursing issues and experiences. “It has been both exciting and challenging for students to learn how to navigate their critical thinking skills in the online environment,” Tirado explains. “Being able to integrate virtual experiences in our courses has helped us to overcome the obstacles brought on during this challenging time and still meet the learning needs of our students.”

Learn more about the department of nursing at puc.edu/academics. Our team of admissions counselors can answer any questions you have about the programs, or other majors the college offers. Call (800) 862-7080, option 2, or email admissions@puc.eduto get connected with a counselor now and start learning about all the options available to you!

Faces of PUC: Introducing PUC’s Newest Nursing Professor, Jenna Park

Jenna Park is a PUC nursing alum and enjoyed her college experience so much she’s back! Jenna is an assistant professor in the department of nursing. She started her position in July but is no stranger to the community. Jenna’s happy to be back in the Napa Valley, not just for the great restaurants, but being a part of the Pioneers family again. 

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

I decided to come back to PUC because I saw how close and supportive the faculty was even when I was a nursing student. I enjoyed my time at PUC and loved the community, so I knew I had to come back. Nursing school was the most challenging two years of my life, but it was also the most fun and exciting.

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

The best thing about being a part of the Pioneers family is I have the best nursing faculty team. Everyone has been so supportive and welcoming, and I feel like I adjusted fairly quickly to this new position. I also love how close I am to all my favorite places to eat!

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

Whenever I am away from the Valley, I always crave and miss Giugnis Deli. I don’t know what it is about them. There is so much nostalgia and that goodness just makes me want to come back for more all the time.

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

I’m not sure if it would be surprising, but I am obsessed with Disneyland, and I usually go at least once or twice a year. So it’s been tough to be away from Disneyland for so long due to COVID-19, but I am happy that they are staying closed for the safety of our community.

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

I’ve been so busy I haven’t listened to a lot of songs recently, especially since I find it difficult to work or study with music playing in the background.

Who is someone you admire and why? 

I admire my mother because she came to the United States and provided for the family, even though she barely spoke any English. She was a nurse in Korea before I was born, and she came back to the career almost fifteen years later in a whole new country with different rules, cultures, and languages. She is now a veteran nurse, and she has gained respect from all her coworkers, and many nurses come to her for advice. She is the definition of perseverance and hard work, and I aspire to be like her.

Favorite movie to watch? 

It depends on my mood. If I want something adventurous or fun, I’d watch something on Disney Plus. Maybe it’s Moana or maybe it’s The Avengers. But if I want something classic, I love to watch Pride and Prejudice.

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

Sleeping in or grabbing brunch at Gillwoods or Grace’s Table in Napa!

Alumni Stories: Working Through A Pandemic

We have been living through this pandemic since March which means the last eight months of our lives have been very strange! We have been dealing with virtual learning, working remote, wearing masks, physical distancing, and finding new ways to communicate and socialize. We decided to reach out to some of our alums to find out how things have been going for them.

Larissa Church graduated from PUC in 2008 with degrees in History and English. She worked for PUC for many years as an admissions counselor and as the director of public relations. After years of volunteer work, she decided to pursue her passion for helping animals, full-time. We asked Larissa how her ner job was going and how COVID-19 had changed life at an animal rescue.

I’m the communications manager at House Rabbit Society in Richmond, Calif. I manage donor relations, fundraising campaigns, and social media. I’m also the editor of our biannual magazine, the House Rabbit Journal. I started in late summer 2019, and to say my first year has been a whirlwind is an understatement!

I was fortunate enough to already be working from home a week before the state’s shelter-in-place order came in back in March. My work had the foresight to close early.

Like every industry, COVID-19 has significantly impacted the animal rescue and sheltering industry. We’re also facing a second virus, specific to rabbits, called Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV). For the first time, it’s spreading in North America in both wild and domestic rabbits. At HRS, we’ve had to change everything because of both viruses. We’re now indefinitely closed to the public. We shut down our boarding services and are no longer offering grooming services, like nail trims. Our adoption process has moved completely online, with adoption counseling done over Zoom and a contactless curbside pickup. I have an app on my phone that makes it look as though I’m calling someone from HRS when in reality I’m sitting on my sofa at home!

Since the pandemic started, we’ve had an increase in adoptions and foster applications, which has been amazing to see. Our donors have been very generous too, despite everything going on right now. In July, we had a successful matching campaign where we $20,000 in just four days! It’s strange to realize I have now worked more remotely for HRS than I did actually in the office and I’ll be remote for the foreseeable future. It’s been difficult to navigate this new normal, both personally and professionally, but I’m so grateful to be working for an organization and a cause I deeply care about. I can’t imagine being anywhere else!

For more information or just to see cute bunny pics, follow HRS on Instagram at @houserabbitsociety.

Larissa and Craig Church adopted Pepper, this sassy queen, from House Rabbit Society on Nov. 9, 2019.

Let’s Stay Together

It hasn’t taken long to realize how much we miss seeing everyone on campus every day so we know this year must be tough on you and your friends. Even though we know social distancing is important for everyone’s health and safety, it’s equally important to stay connected with your friends. Here are a few simple (maybe obvious) ways to do just that. 

Follow Each Other On Social Media 

We don’t really need to tell you this one, if you have social media you’re most likely already following your friends. But try following your new classmates too! It’s obviously a great way to get to know people and an easy way to stay in touch. 

Make A Study Group 

Get some classmates together at least once a week, jump on Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Slack, etc, and study! Not only will it help you with your classes but it’s a great way to chat and engage with your schoolmates, and who knows, maybe you’ll meet some new people.

Have Movie Nights 

Movie nights may look a little different right now but you can still have them! Pop some popcorn, grab a fizzy drink, your favorite blankets, and hop on FaceTime, Zoom, or Netflix Party and have a great time. Don’t forget to invite your fully little friends if you have them!

Enjoy Music Together 

Staying connected with your friends can be as simple as sharing music and enjoying it together. Send your playlists to your friends or send some songs you think your friends would like. If you have Spotify, you can even make a collaborative playlist. 

Start A Book Club

Pick a book, not a school book, and start a book club. It’s fun to read in general but it’s even better when you get to share with friends. Video chat each week or start a group text to discuss chapters.

Be A Penpal

The digital world has made communicating simple and fast but sometimes it’s nice to do things ‘old school’. Find a friend and exchange letters. If you’re like me you might get sucked down a rabbit hole full of wax seal and stamps on Etsy.

Everyone is handling this time differently so remember to check up on your friends. Nothing can replace seeing your friends face-to-face, but thankfully technology is here to do it’s best. No matter how far you are from your friends, remember to stay connected.

Faces of PUC: Introducing PUC’s Newest Professor of Mathematics & Data Science, Nathaniel Adu

Give a warm welcome to Nathaniel Adu. He has only been teaching at PUC for three months, but has already experienced the warmth of our beautiful community and is happy to be a part of our Pioneers family. Being at PUC has given Nathaniel a feeling of how heaven is going to be like with the welcome and belonging he feels here. 

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

I have heard about PUC through a friend whose brother attended PUC. He always spoke highly of the school. I decided to work here mostly because of the sense of community living. The PUC family is extremely welcoming and I have experienced the warmness from day one. I also wanted to work in a place where I can grow not only physically but spiritually. PUC is one of those few places and I am glad to be part of that community. 

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

I feel welcomed and belonging. I love the diversity. It gives me a feeling of how heaven is going to be like. People of all ethnicities living together in harmony.

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

I love to cook and play soccer.

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

Day by Day SDAH 532

Favorite movie to watch? 

Coming to America by Eddie Murphy

Who is someone you admire and why? 

The late Nelson Mandela. He didn’t let what happened to him in the past affect him as a leader of his country. He was able to forgive the people who put him in jail and also put measures in place to reconcile his country when they needed it most. He was a symbol for peace and a great leader. His humility is what I like about him most.

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

Playing soccer with my friends. 

Highlighting Biology With Aimee Wyrick

PUC’s department of biology is well known for a rigorous lineup of classes. While the majority of biology students continue on to medical, dental, and veterinary schools there are other focuses as well. The department often ventures out of the classrooms utilizing our great location giving students the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways, while also allowing the professors to get to know their students better.

To give you more insight into the great community within this department, Aimee Wyrick, Chair and Associate Professor of Biology, gladly answered some questions for us. 

What is your favorite thing about teaching in your department?

My students and colleagues! I am blessed to work with a great team and I get to teach really interesting and fun classes. 

What makes your department unique compared to other departments at PUC?

Biology is part of an amazing network on our campus and so, at our core, we are all #onePUC. However, our department is unique (beyond the obvious) in that the curriculum we teach has tangible real-world applications. We also have a lot of hands-on opportunities that range from activities in Clark Hall labs to local and distant field trips. 

What makes your department at PUC unique compared to the same program at other colleges and universities?  

As a small college, the professors have a genuine interest in student success. Biology classes aren’t easy but the faculty are here to provide support, guidance, and mentorship. Faculty support of our students builds their confidence and helps them to develop the ever-important “soft skills” alongside the critical knowledge for whatever career a student pursues. We also have a very successful peer mentorship program – the BIOneers – that partners new students with returning students.  

What are some cool things your department is doing? 

Of course, much of our “normal” operations are on hold right now but we look forward to having students back on campus soon and continuing with the following: Most Biology faculty have active research programs and provide opportunities for any student that is interested and eligible to participate in undergraduate research experiences. Our department sponsors frequent domestic and international field biology courses and research trips (Alaska, Brazilian Amazon, Honduras, Fiji, Micronesia, Mexico, and Kenya). Many of our classes utilize the PUC forest, Howell Mountain Farm, and Albion Field Station for field biology opportunities (and research) 

Can you share a few examples of exciting things alumni from your department are doing?  

Where do I start? Most recently we learned one of our graduates (class of 2009) was just named an Assistant Professor of Pathology at LLU School of Medicine. Another graduate (2012) is working on a Ph.D. at UCSB in the areas of Spatial Ecology, Remote Sensing, Land-use Change, and Deforestation. Yet another graduate (2015) is an entomologist earning a Ph.D. at Utah State University. And a recent graduate (2020) starts her first year at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University. We have so many accomplished alumni and it’s too bad I can’t tell you what they’re all doing! They make us proud and we cherish the memories of their time in Clark Hall. 

What’s something your department is well known for? Why do you think that is?  

We are well known for our pre-professional program preparation. A majority of our majors continue to medical, dental, or veterinary school. Though our graduates are blessed to have a variety of excellent teachers across campus, the science faculty prepare students for the rigors of medical and dental school. We have a number of classes that are specifically tailored to the pre-professional student (e.g., histology and advanced human anatomy) that our graduate’s report is professional-school level. 

What’s something a new student can look forward to about joining your department?  

We have a focus on building community in the department of biology and being part of the BIOneer Mentorship Program is a must-do for new students. New students can look forward to meeting and getting to know a bunch of cool people (including the Bio professors) and getting to know the nooks and crannies of Clark Hall. A new student shouldn’t be surprised to meet (and learn) the names of our reptile menagerie, like Fred the Burmese python. 

This is Fred!

For more information about the department of biology or any of our other academic programs visit our website

It’s Time To Fill Out FAFSA!

It’s October 1 and that means we are here to talk about FAFSA. Starting today, you can file your FAFSA and have your information sent to up to 10 colleges! 

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for college is to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is an online form you will submit each year that determines your eligibility for student financial aid. 

Be sure to file FAFSA as soon as possible since some aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. To have your FAFSA information sent to PUC, include PUC’s school code—it’s 001258

FAFSA takes most people less than an hour to complete, which includes taking time to gather the necessary documents, completing and reviewing the application, and reading the important information on the “Confirmation” page you’ll receive after signing and submitting the FAFSA. You can even complete it on your phone! The U.S. Department of Education has created a mobile-friendly version on its website or it can be filled out using its myStudentAid app. Nothing should stop you from taking one hour to do this incredibly important step in the college financial aid process! 

Filing the FAFSA also potentially qualifies you for a Pell Grant, which is a subsidy from the U.S. federal government, and is something you don’t have to pay back. Amounts can change each year, but for the 2020-2021 award year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $6,345 so you can expect similar for 2021-2022.

Based on your FAFSA information, our team of financial counselors can determine how much financial aid you are eligible for and create a personalized financial aid estimate for you where you can see how much per month it would cost to attend PUC. It’s an incredibly helpful and absolutely essential thing for you to have when making a decision about where to attend college. 

What are you waiting for? Start your FAFSA now at fafsa.gov!

Remote Learning Etiquette

By: Ally Romanes

We’ve all learned a lot about remote learning the past few months which is great since many of us will continue with it this fall. Here are some great tips for proper online learning etiquette from a PUC student!

Look Presentable 

Even though you’re at home, you should still consider how you present yourself to your professors and classmates. If your video is on, run a brush through your hair, wear appropriate clothing, and pay attention. If you will just be using auido, it’s still a good idea to get ready and dressed every morning to help keep you in a routine.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings 

Make sure there is nothing behind you that will be distracting to others and yourself. This could be other people, pets, or things in your room like a pile of messy clothes. Find a quiet, well lit place that will keep you focused in class and far away from distractions. 

Mute Yourself!

Once you log in to the virtual classroom, make sure to mute yourself. Most of the professors ask students ahead of time to mute, but there will still be some people who forget and end up having noise in the background that disrupts the class. 

Don’t Interrupt 

If you have a question during a lecture, don’t talk over your professor. Either type it in the chatbox or wait until the professor is ready for questions. Some professors don’t mind students asking questions during the lecture, but it’s best if you wait until they are finished. 

Respond Back 

When your professors ask you to respond to questions, please do. Whether they want you to speak up, respond in the chatbox, or give a thumbs up/down, make sure you respond to them. 

Remember, taking online classes isn’t just a learning process for you, but also your professors. They are working hard to give you the best remote learning experience. If you have any questions, concerns, or difficulties with your classes, do not hesitate to email your professor. These are challenging times but we are all in this together. 

A Letter From PUC’s SA President

Hello PUC,

Hi everyone! My name is Lewis Govea, this years’ PUC Student Association President. I am a senior music major looking to attend pharmacy school in the future. My PUC journey started fall of 2017 when I came to PUC as an aspiring biochemistry major. My efforts to power through my chosen major were thwarted by passion and the desire to be as well rounded as possible, so I switched my major to music with voice being my primary instrument.

My passion for music began very early. I have been in choirs and plays my entire academic life and have continued to grow as a musician. My musical experience ingrained within me the value of teamwork, so I continue to seek out groups that work together for a common goal. This desire, to be a part of something larger than myself, is what drew me to student government. I joined PUC’s Student Association fall of 2019 as the Social Vice President, where I took my skills as a team player and refined them into being the skills of a team leader. I found leadership to be one of my core characteristics. I planned fun events, like Bob Ross Paint Night and a concert where I invited The Voice alum Jej Vinson to sing. I felt like I was making an impact on campus, but I also felt limited to the social lives of PUC students rather than being someone who could affect actual changes to campus life and culture. This is what made me run for president.

School is starting and it might feel like there is no end in sight to this pandemic. I can already sense the walls of my bedroom pressing inwards, but I still don’t give up hope. Hope for better days and for when I can see the kind and loving faces of my friends again. If I begin to feel stagnate, I will push myself to fight for a cause. That cause will be to do everything in my power to make everyone connect to a community that loves them and will support them through these difficult times. This quarantine has been tough, and nobody expects you to just pick up where you left off. Heal. Rest. PUC SA is doing the work to make those dreams a reality. 

Until we meet again,

Lewis Govea

SA President