Alumni Profile: Brenda Mohr, Serving Through Music

Brenda Mohr graduated with Music Education in 1985, and was the first organ student to present her senior recital on the mighty Rieger Organ. She loved PUC because of the beautiful location, spiritual environment, caring professors, and the wonderful people who became lifelong friends. She is now the Director of Choirs at Loma Linda University Church and loves serving through music ministry. We are grateful for the time Brenda gave us to share about her time at PUC and working at LLUC. 

You were the first organ student to present your senior recital on the mighty Rieger Organ. What was that like for you? 

I felt very proud! It was such a thrill to play the mighty Rieger! I’m grateful to my organ teacher, Dr. Del Case, for all the opportunities he gave me to play the organ for church services, accompaniment for choir and brass and my junior and senior recitals. 

What did you enjoy the most about your time at PUC?

Weekly trips to Giugni’s in St. Helena, dorm life, and time spent with friends attending Friday night vespers; and Sabbath morning worship services.

Tell us about being the Director of Choirs at Loma Linda University Church. What do you enjoy most about what you do? 

Being the Director of Choirs at the Loma Linda University Church is an honor. I love serving God’s people through music ministry in a nurturing and thriving work environment. I get to collaborate with a lot of extremely talented musicians who have a heart for worship. The LLUC Music Department staff are a joy to work with. Each person on our team are professional musicians; who strive for musical excellence week after week. I am truly blessed to be a part of the LLUC Staff.

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

My student teaching experience at Napa High School was the most pivotal experience in my undergrad studies at PUC that helped prepare me for a career in teaching music.

What are your hobbies? 

I enjoy spending time with family and friends. Also camping, hiking, biking and travel adventures. 

What advice can you share with our students? 

Keep Jesus as your constant companion. He delights to do more for you than you can ask or imagine. 

How I Got Here: One faculty member’s journey with music

By Chantel Blackburn

As I write this, I am only 8 days away from my debut on the soprano saxophone at this quarter’s Christmas on the Hill Candlelight Concert. It’s an instrument I never touched before November and have only played a handful of times. My “first” instrument (other than my voice – my mom has said that my brother and I were “screamers” as children) was the piano. I took lessons for two years until my parents finally let me quit. “You’ll regret it,” they told me; I did not.

The last recital piece I prepared was Lady Allyson’s Minuet. I don’t remember if I even performed it but what I remember is that I only wanted to practice the piece, not the exercises I was assigned by my teacher. I much preferred playing a handful of notes at a time with our chime and handbell choir to the piano.

In the early grades we also played recorders and being in a musical household, not only did we have our own sopranos, we also had an alto that I was able to play with my class. My teacher told me that the fingerings of the alto were similar to clarinet so that made for a natural transition when I started band in fifth grade. I played the clarinet until the end of my junior year in high school when I started to get more serious about it.

I was eager to take over as first chair of the wind ensemble during my senior year; I was spending time in the practice room, and starting to take lessons from my band teacher. As the year progressed, however, I noticed I was having trouble moving my fingers when my hands got cold and I couldn’t maintain my embouchure for substantial lengths of time. There were other, seemingly unrelated symptoms too: drooping eyelids, double vision, dragging feet, and weakness in my extremities. By that summer I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that causes weakness in the voluntary muscle groups.

With my muscles not cooperating and trying to figure out a treatment plan to keep my condition stable, I only picked up the clarinet one or two times over the next decade or so. I spent my senior year of high school singing alto in a quartet and the select touring group, sang one quarter in the women’s chorus in college, and near the end of my time in graduate school helped prompt the formation of a short-lived church choir. My instrumental amusement came from playing hymns on Sabbath afternoons with my recorders and improving on the guitar, which ultimately helped me pick up basic chords on the piano.

When I arrived at PUC and heard the wind ensemble play Variations on a Korean Folk Song at their Winter concert that year, I was overwhelmed by distant memories of playing that very piece in high school and just had to join. I hadn’t played for so long, my clarinet case had dead bugs inside that I had to vacuum out. I tried to play on 10-year-old reeds and with a busted ligature. It was a disaster. But I was participating in music with my clarinet again and it was wonderful.

Since then, my skill has grown. As we continued graduating talented clarinetists in the chairs above me, I suddenly found myself taking on more responsibility and leadership in the section. I still have doubts in my abilities every time a new student plays their scales to warm up and struggle with physical limitations but eventually, I found myself joining the orchestra and playing Beethoven’s 5th Symphony wondering how I ended up there.

At PUC I’ve had the opportunity to perform as Snoopy in a production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, sing with Chorale and Vox Pro Musica, play the A clarinet in Orchestra, tour with our music groups to southern California, and attempt a couple tunes on the Eb clarinet with PUC Wind Ensemble. I enjoy how music enriches my life and takes my mind off the daily grind one rehearsal at a time.

I’m no professional and I don’t have the discipline (or the physical ability) to be one, but in my own amateurish wanderings, music has taken me places I never thought possible. The next step in my journey is on the soprano saxophone and I look forward to seeing where this goes.

Editor’s Note: Join us as we celebrate the sacred sounds of Christmas in the 2021 Christmas on the Hill Candlelight Concert. This concert is presented twice: Friday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 11, at 4 p.m., both in the PUC Church. Admission is free.

Chantel Blackburn is professor of mathematics at Pacific Union College.

“PUC Is Home to Me”

Alumnus returns for music and education

by Becky St. Clair

Malek Sheen graduated from PUC in 2019 with degrees in English and Spanish. Though it was his intention to return and earn his master’s in education, the pandemic convinced him to wait a year. When he came back to PUC in the fall of 2021, he enrolled in both the education and music programs.

“I chose my areas of study based both on what I could give to others, and what would make me the best version of myself,” he says. “I wanted to be a well-rounded person, and I wanted marketable skills that I could use to give back to the world. PUC was the best choice for me in that regard.”

Sheen, who was not raised Adventist, was born in Los Angeles, and lived with his mom and grandpa. He attended public high school, and after his sophomore year his mom could see he needed a change. She told him he could choose to go to the Army and Navy Academy or he could attend Monterey Bay Academy. Sheen chose the latter, and as a result, was introduced to Pacific Union College.

“Knowing what I know now, I see that God’s hand was in that move,” Sheen says. 

Despite never having access to a piano growing up, Sheen’s grandfather was a pianist and had a small keyboard he let him use. Sheen was determined to learn the instrument, and has now been playing for eight years. Upon arrival at PUC, Sheen signed up for piano lessons, and though he eventually decided to work toward an associate’s degree in music, he wasn’t able to finish while working on his first two degrees. So, when he returned for his master’s, he was determined to also complete a music degree.

“Once I get my credentials I should be able to teach English, Spanish and music in public school, private school, or abroad,” Sheen says. “But there’s a lot of room still for God to show me my path, and I’m open to wherever he leads.”

Though he knows he could have gone elsewhere to get his master’s degree, Sheen says it was never a question that he would return to PUC.

“PUC has been home to me, and I’m tethered here,” he explains. “I grew up attending public school and it was so easy to get lost in the crowd there. But here, it’s possible to be someone. There are so many opportunities to grow as a person, not just academically, but spiritually, as well.”

Sheen says he’s learned a lot at PUC, but when asked to name one thing he’s learned that will really stick with him, he responds without hesitation: “God.” 

His college roommate was a friend from MBA, and Sheen says his roommate gave him space to question things, and opened the door for him to explore who God is. 

“He did it without trying,” Sheen adds. “He wasn’t trying to push Christianity on me; it was just who he was, and honestly, that made it an even stronger pull toward God. It just felt natural. I can thank PUC for giving me many opportunities to develop myself, but none, in my opinion, are as valuable as giving me the chance to learn to walk with God. That’s something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.”

For more information about music at PUC, visit puc.edu/music.

Photo by Kael Bloom on Unsplash

Coming Back to Life: Preparing for music-making in the fall

By Becky St. Clair

We’re all tired of talking about the pandemic, but…it’s here to stay for a while, and we can’t ignore it. What we can do, however, is focus on coming out the other side of it all, physically, mentally, and spiritually intact. 

Over the last 17 months or so, it’s likely your lifestyle and habits have changed significantly. Whether that means dropping or discovering a hobby, picking up or conquering bad habits, sleeping different hours, or developing a hatred of all things Zoom and an appreciation for well-stocked grocery stores, it’s likely life looks quite different for you in August 2021 than it did in March 2020. 

For many of us who are musicians, this change in lifestyle likely includes a dramatic decrease in the amount of playing or singing we do on a regular basis. Which means that when we talk about “getting back in shape,” we’re not talking about those pounds that mysteriously appeared over the last year and a half and obviously had nothing to do with the vast number of baked goods and stress snacks we were consuming. (#denial)

When we as musicians talk about “getting back in shape” we’re talking chops. For brass and woodwind players this is the embouchure and breath control; for string players, guitarists, and pianists it’s calluses and muscle memory; for vocalists it’s the vocal cords and breath control; for percussionists it’s the forearm muscles, hand-eye coordination, and accuracy. And after a year and a half of not using them, these skills and abilities likely need a bit of a tune-up.

Here’s the good news: 

  1. It’s totally doable to get yourself back in shape in time for fall quarter ensembles and lessons; and
  2. If you haven’t been involved with music yet at PUC, now’s the time to join, because everyone is in the same boat, and music is the life preserver.

So, without further ado, here’s some sage advice and tips from the music faculty at PUC.

Don’t practice. Get together with friends and just play or sing. Do duets or quartets. Play woodwind and brass quintets. Play or sing with an organist or pianist. After all the isolation, playing with friends is a joy. And don’t worry if your ensemble is made up of odd instruments. A flute can play a violin part (and vice-versa). Clarinets, tenor saxes, and trumpets are interchangeable. Lots of music today even has parts in multiple keys so the instrumentation is very flexible. Have some fun and make some music.

Schedule yourself as the special music in church (and then take the music to a retirement home or a hospital or a place where people need to hear some music). Don’t pick anything too hard or too long, just something that you might enjoy playing. A few rehearsals, a performance, and you’ve made a lot of peoples’ lives brighter with your talent, and gotten your fingers and face back in shape. Hey, do this more than once! People want to hear you.

Commit to playing/singing for only 10 minutes several times a week. If things are going well and you want to spend more time, great! But 10 minutes begins to get your muscles back into shape. Your playing/singing muscles are likely out of shape, and just like an athlete, take time to rebuild them so you play/sing without injuring them.

Play with curiosity rather than expectation. Celebrate what still works and give yourself grace for what doesn’t. It may have been a long time since you played or sang. That means the control you used to have with your instrument/voice may not be as accessible as it used to be. It will come back!

Review the basics. Simple scales, hymns, and long notes can be used to remind and re-engage your muscles/embouchure/vocal chords in good habits of intonation, articulation, and control. 

Find a rhythm book or other music book and practice reading the rhythms on a single note. This will make it easier when you start sight reading again. 

And here are some thoughts for once we’re back together in September:

Manage expectations. We must remind ourselves that the instrument is rusty and like going back to exercising after a break, the voice is going to respond similarly. It will take time to get back to our previous level regarding breath, tone, volume control, etc.

Make it about socializing–rebuilding connections and trust. These are two elements that have been in short supply over the last year and a half. Provide plenty of time to socialize and get acquainted or reacquainted. 

Have reasonable goals in terms of skill development and musical artistry. Start with things that can be mastered and grow from there.

Celebrate the ability to make music together again. It is a privilege that others may not fully grasp. 

Give yourself and others time and space to share what you’ve missed and what you hope to gain and revitalize. 

Many of us have really, truly suffered from not being able to be with one another and make music while actually in the same room. It will take time and care for each other to get back into the swing of things, but regardless of how long it has been, celebrate the journey and privilege of making music. Treat it as a gift and give yourself grace. We cannot wait to see you in September!

For information about the department of music, including how to be part of an ensemble (spoiler: it’s easy, and there’s scholarship money involved!), contact us at music@puc.edu or 707-965-6201.

Photo by Kael Bloom on Unsplash

Meant to Be: An Interview with a Music and Business Double Major

by Becky St. Clair

Sophie Jalomo is a senior music and business major from Fresno who didn’t end up quite where she expected. She is our choral librarian, creating and keeping order amongst the shelves and shelves of choir music, and plans to graduate in spring 2022. We are thrilled to have her in our department for another year, and were so glad she shared her experiences and thoughts with us.

Why did you choose PUC? 

Each of my siblings went to the same university for college, and because of this, the school wanted to make us their poster children. I felt like I was being pushed to go there, and decided that was not the reason that I should go to any particular school. So I began searching for peace about which school to attend. Even after meeting with a counselor in financial aid, not knowing how I was going to pay my tuition, I had complete peace about choosing PUC. That’s why I’m here–because God gave me the peace that I was meant to be here.​​

You started out a business major. What drew you to music? 

The first class I took with the music department was group voice class with Dr. Anderson. I have always loved singing, but I felt handicapped when it came to music, so I wanted to learn more. A good friend of mine told me that I should try out for choir, but I was really scared to. Then Dr. A asked me to audition, and after some work, I joined Chorale and Vox Pro Musica (VPM). I was hooked. It quickly became a passion, and I couldn’t stay away! I still wanted to learn more about music, so I began poking around and asking questions. I loved how passionate everyone in the department was, so I asked Dr. A and some students about double majoring and if they thought it was the right choice. I then talked to my advisors about double majoring and how that would affect my getting a job after graduation. Everyone was saying the same thing: That it would be the best choice I could make for myself. Over a year later, I know I made the right decision.

Before PUC, you didn’t have a lot of experience with music performance. What inspired you to join an ensemble? 

I always wanted to join a choir. I sang a little at my church, but it was basically five people trying to sing to a recording track. PUC Chorale was my first real choir. If my friend and Dr. Anderson hadn’t encouraged me to join, I would have been too afraid to join. Actually, my freshman year I auditioned for VPM. I was told that I had a good voice, but I was a soprano and she needed altos. I didn’t like that answer, so I decided to become an alto! Shortly after that I got a cold and lost my head voice, so I could only sing in my chest voice, and I became the next alto in VMP.

As a double major in both business and music, how do you think the two work together? 

In some ways, they are incompatible, but I think when you apply the collaboration it takes to make music in an ensemble or group, the connections become clear. More than anything, these majors are complementary. I have had to learn completely new ways of studying and practicing, new ways of managing my time. Working with others can be challenging, but in music, it’s required that everyone is on the same page and communicating well to be able to function. That is the thing music and business have most in common.

Tell me about a music course that has really impacted you.

Oh my goodness, where do I even start? I think I would choose my basic conducting class or theory. I have learned that there is so much I do not know, and that there’s so much more to learn. With every new chapter that we study, I am blown away at things I did not know. I used to think conductors would just be able to sight-read a piece and it was fine, but now I understand how much practice and preparation go into being able to direct an ensemble. I am constantly learning something new in my music courses!

How has being part of two very different departments benefitted you? 

The best part is that I get to take a break from different types of learning and questioning. I have felt that much of what I learn as a business major is mostly just logical and easily makes sense to me. With music, it is not like that. There aren’t just definitions, rules, ethics, and people; there is art. In music there is technique and variation, there are fewer black-and-white moments and more creation and personality. But for now, I get to learn the foundations of things in both areas. 

Being a double major in two completely different fields has stretched me in every way. I have learned new study techniques, learned how to apply myself more effectively, and learned how to make new connections. I am much happier having both music and business as a major; it’s nice to know I can be successful as a double major and I am able to study what I am passionate about.

Who in the music department has been instrumental in making you feel at home, and how? 

Honestly, everyone. Everyone was so encouraging in my transition into the music department, that they made me feel it was a joy for them to receive me into their family. My professors have worked so hard to accommodate all of us students so that we can get the classes that we need and they’re always there when we have questions or need help!

What is your career goal? 

My primary goal is to have a career in business. This summer, I will be attending the Business Internship program at Kettering Health Network (KHN) in Ohio. After graduation I plan on working with them for a few years, and then branching off, hopefully, to own my own business! 

Since you’re planning to focus on the business side of things, how do you think studying music will play a part in your future? 

I will always have that joy that comes with being able to produce music and learn more. I love music and I want it to be part of my life forever. I want to carry these abilities that I am learning forward, and while I hope that someday I will be able to work for a music program, I love that I can make music and have understanding no matter where I end up.

Allen

Something to Contribute: Alumna speaks on Black music

by Becky St. Clair

The history of American music is infused with African influence, and it covers a multitude of genres, styles, artists, and composers. In an article on the Smithsonian Institute website, Steven Lewis says, “Describing the African-American influence on American music in all its glory and variety is an intimidating–if not impossible–task. African-American influences are so fundamental to American music that there would be no American music without them.”

And yet the standard music course at most American colleges and universities rarely, if ever, touches on Black Music.

“I’ve spent my life listening to classic jazz, gospel, spirituals, and oldies, but I didn’t tap into the juggernaut of African-American classical music until I got to PUC,” remembers Christina Allen, 2019 PUC music and visual arts alumna. “When I started looking for recital pieces in my voice lessons, I realized there are so many classically trained African-American composers, lyricists, and artists, and I’d never heard of them.”

Allen has always been a singer; her father, also a singer as well as a trombonist, began teaching her jazz harmonies when she was five years old. She was handed a mic and soloed with her church choir as a young child, too.

“When I got to PUC, though I was focused on film and television, I couldn’t help but find my way over to the music department,” she says with a grin. 

Allen found her way to a practice room and began singing. She was overheard by a professor, who encouraged her to try out for choir, which she did. At first it was just something she was adding to her course lineup for fun, but she quickly realized it was more than that to her. 

“I loved it,” Allen admits. “I knew I had to get a degree in music because I just love it, it’s part of who I am, and I wanted to study it properly.”

During her senior year, as she prepared for her senior recital with Dr. Eve-Anne Wilkes, her voice instructor, Allen knew she wanted to include music by Black composers in her lineup. So she chose a couple of pieces by William Grant Still: “The Breath of a Rose,” with lyrics by Langston Hughes, and “Grief,” music set to a poem by LeRoy V. Grant.

“Still’s music has been instrumental in my journey as an African-American female vocalist,” Allen says. “There’s something really incredible about the storytelling in it. The way he brings together the music just has such a powerful way of emoting stories that are really relevant to our culture. He gets under your skin in a good way, with room for thought and consideration.”

Allen points out that Still was extremely thoughtful about the lyrics of his music and about who he had write them. 

“His music speaks to the experience he and everyone around him was having, and that’s meaningful to me,” Allen adds. “Even with current artists in popular genres, the ones I gravitate toward are those who are using their talent for more than just entertainment. They have something to contribute to the time they’re in.”

Ambassador Status

It isn’t just Still that speaks to Allen; she also proclaims a deep and abiding love for the music of Florence Price, George Walker, Robert Nathaniel, and Margaret Bonds. And though her counterparts at HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) studied these and others in every music class they took, Allen points out that at most colleges and universities, you have to search out specific classes about Black or African-American music. 

“It’s just not common literature,” she says with sadness. “There are brilliant composers from every ethnicity and we simply don’t hear about them. If we as a society want to heal in some of these areas in which we’ve been wounded and broken, we have to rethink how we educate. Because education is how we cultivate our values and mindsets and it shapes our perspectives of the world.”

Allen is a classically trained African-American female vocalist. Though there are many others who fit this description around the world, she knows she is still a rarity. And she feels compelled to be an ambassador for her culture–specifically for women of her culture–in classical music.

“It would be an injustice if I didn’t,” she says. “If someone is moved by the fact that the music I sing was made by someone who looks like me, I’ve done what I’m supposed to do. My voice is a gift and I have a responsibility to share that gift. I’m not just singing when I perform; I’m telling the story of African-American music–of classical music–and I want to share that story because if I don’t, I don’t know if anyone else will.”

Allen quickly points out, however, that she and her African-American brothers and sisters are not the only ones who can tell this story. For example, white people are not the only ones allowed to tell the story of Mozart or Bach or Debussy; Allen herself has told their stories and others throughout her musical career.

“We should be able to tell each other’s stories,” she says with feeling. “Anyone of any race, creed, shape, size, color, or whatever should tell whatever story they resonate with and that resonates with them. In telling the story and sharing, it’s a fight for equality. We have importance just like everyone else, and there’s value in that.”

It is, however, a special honor for Allen, as a Black musician, to honor the legacy of those who have gone before her. And it’s not just about singing music; it’s also talking about it.

Sharing Culture

Allen shares a story of chatting with a nurse at a doctor’s appointment. The nurse happened to mention that he’d been to Scotland, going back to his roots. Allen’s immediate response was, “That music is so soulful! I love it!” The nurse was taken aback by her description of Scottish music, surprised that she had not only listened to it, but had thoughtful things to say about it.

“We started talking about music and how it impacts our lives,” Allen recalls. “It turns out he has a radio station and loves music, listening to everything under the sun. I started sharing about composers I love from my own culture that had impacted me and he said he’d play some of them on his station.”

Intrigued and inspired, Allen tuned into the station later and found the nurse had kept his word. He even gave her a shout-out on-air.

“It’s so important that we share each other’s culture,” Allen emphasizes. “All of it shapes each of us, and if we claim to want equality and do away with racism on every level, we need to walk that talk.”

And it starts with education.

“We have to integrate our history courses,” Allen says. “Branching out and offering the history of Black music not just as a separate course, but as part of the history of music we already take.”

She continues by saying that classes shouldn’t just talk about African music in world music courses, but in all of them, and when studying composition, professors should be thoughtful to include a diverse range of cultures and styles. Lectures should Include Black composers and musicians, and ensembles should perform music from all over the world.

“For many–myself included–college is the first time we truly experience classical music,” Allen asserts. “If not for some awesome teachers, I may not have had the experience I did with classical music. There’s something to be said for performing music from people who look like you, and being able to represent your culture. What we’re exposed to matters.”

It’s not just higher education, either, Allen points out; it’s a societal issue as the country tries to play catch-up and heal the brokenness garnered through past mistakes. And every little step forward matters–especially in education.

“What we learn in school shapes our perspective and we can’t make progress if we’re leaving out pieces,” she says. “I was greatly impacted in a positive way by the education I received with my music degree at PUC. I was completely cultivated in unexpected ways, and it’s forever shaped me as a person and as a musician.

“Music is a universal language and it has a special and unique way of helping you understand another culture outside of your own,” Allen concludes. “Understanding is valuable. If we dare to not be angry, and to be gracious and willing to continue the conversation, we’ll move forward.”

Some Black composers to explore, recommended by Allen & department of music faculty:

  • William Grant Still
  • Florence Price
  • George Walker
  • Margaret Bonds
  • Ulysses Simpson Kay
  • Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
  • Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
  • Jessie Montgomery

Caleb Pudewell, Graphic Design Major

If you love the posters pictured as much as we do, let us introduce you to the artist who designed them! Caleb is a senior graphic design student in PUC’s accredited department of visual arts, as well as a design intern in our Marketing & Communication office. His illustration work is inspired by his passion for nature and the outdoors and when he graduates this June, Caleb plans to pursue a career with an outdoor company or creative agency in the Pacific Northwest. With his portfolio of projects that also includes identity branding, publication, and clothing design, we are confident he’ll be another PUC success story!

To see more of Caleb’s work, visit behance.net/calebpudewell.

Creating the Perfect Fit: An Interview with a Double Major

By Becky St. Clair

Natalie Fode is a senior piano and nursing double major who grew up right here in St. Helena. With an Associate’s Degree in music (flute performance) and one in nursing already under her belt, she plans to graduate in June 2021 with her Bachelor’s Degrees in both. Natalie plays flute in the PUC Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and when we’re on-campus in person, she works in the department office managing recordings. She currently lives in Yountville with her husband, Jordan.

Why music?
I’ve always been fascinated with music for as long as I can remember. I have a musical family; my grandfather taught choir at various academies, and my grandmothers were/are both very good pianists. My dad is a great musician too, and plays the bass guitar, and my mom also plays the flute. I think this combination made me interested in music from a young age because music was often in the home in some form or another. I ultimately decided to pursue a music degree because I couldn’t imagine my life without it and I wanted to be better able to share my love of it with others, as well as to grow my composition, piano, and flute performance skills. I hope to someday teach lessons and continue writing music throughout my life.

So it surrounded you for most of your life, but do you recall when you first started really noticing it and exploring it for yourself?
My grandma first taught me the basics of piano when I was about four years old, which first awakened my love and fascination for piano. I don’t know where I got the idea of composing, but I remember playing the lap harp when I was about five or six and creating my own music on it. I also remember going around and making up songs (if you could call them that) about everything that happened in my life when I was little. It turns out each of these early interests developed into something that I now know and love and are all a part of me to this day. 

I ended up becoming extremely interested in composition and songwriting as I got older, writing songs from the time I was about 11 and starting my first choral piece at age 14. I have continued to pursue flute, piano, and composition during my time at PUC. Each of these early musical experiences are still a part of my life today as a college student and they will forever be a part of my musical identity.

How has your experience been pursuing both music and nursing simultaneously?
I would say the biggest challenge for me has been finding the time to stay in a creative headspace while also pursuing nursing, which is a different-type-of-difficult degree. I adore composition and wish that I had the time and creative energy to do it more often. Though it hasn’t always been an easy balancing act, I would say that music has been an oasis for me during the difficult times of the nursing program, which, as much as I love nursing, certainly existed.

Nursing majors have crazy schedules; how did you manage that while also being in a music ensemble?
First of all, I would like to mention that I took the first year and a half of my time at PUC to focus primarily on music and attempting to get into the nursing program. That allowed me to finish a lot of my classes for the AS in music degree, but not all. Once the nursing program began for me, the music department professors worked with my crazy clinical schedules and helped me achieve my goals in both nursing and music; I couldn’t have gotten this far if it wasn’t for their graciousness. 

Nursing is, by necessity, a very structured program and so it speaks volumes that the music department has been willing to work around and with that to help me create the perfect fit during my time at PUC. Now, during my two bachelor degrees in nursing and music, the music professors are working with me more than ever due to “core weeks” (weeks one and six each quarter) which are a part of the BS in nursing when I have classes the majority of the day and can’t typically attend normal class periods. They’ve also worked with me through more crazy clinical schedules and have always been so understanding through it all.

I couldn’t be more blessed and grateful with the music department. It’s taken me five years to finish these two degrees, but the incredible experiences, connections, and future opportunities that I’ve gained along the way has made it all worthwhile.

You and Jordan have recorded a few videos performing together; do you have plans to do something more formal with your combined skills? 
Jordan and I both love music. He’s been playing guitar since he was 12 and saxophone since he was nine, and we’ve both been casually singing in choirs and on our own from a young age. We have just recently started exploring who we are as a musical twosome and it’s been a really fun journey. We hope to make it a “thing” in the near future. 

We have a YouTube channel and want to fill it with covers and original songs, and hope to utilize other social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to share as well. We also want to do concerts both locally and across the U.S. as a ministry, once things are a little less “germy” of course. Ha! This is important to us because we both want to share God’s love and the message of righteousness by faith with as many people as possible. We’d love to combine that message with speaking and music in the form of concerts and social media.

What do you enjoy about being part of the music department?
One of my favorite things about the music department is sitting in the office, working and listening to all of the students and ensembles practicing. It’s so inspiring, makes me smile, and it’s fun to hear people progress in their pieces. I also love the family feel of the department. It’s not huge, and so everyone gets to know everyone and there’s a real sense of closeness there that is quite unique. It feels like a home away from home.

How do music and nursing intersect—at least for you?
Music is inherently therapeutic, and so I definitely feel that my knowledge of music can help me provide my future patients with better care in the hospital. I’ve heard stories of nurses singing or performing for patients per their request and I can see that being something I’d be open to since I’m interested in treating the whole person in their healing process. I see it as a connecting point, regardless of where I am located or what I’m doing; music is something that I’ll carry with me everywhere. 

Likewise, I think that the nursing mentality and my nursing skills are things that can benefit me in many different situations. Nursing has helped me to attack my instrument practicing more systematically which has been helpful for me. I also know that it will come in handy if anyone hurts themselves or has something go physically wrong during a rehearsal or lesson. Both music and nursing are focused on connecting with the whole person you are serving at that moment, and because of this they are interchangeable disciplines in many respects when they are done well.

What is your ultimate career goal?
Well…that’s rather ambiguous at the moment, if I’m honest. I am currently hoping to find a nursing job so that I can begin serving my community in whatever capacity is most needed. Eventually, I would love to work on a labor and delivery unit as I’ve always had a passion for obstetrics. This passion was likely spawned by being an aunt to eight kiddos and watching three of those births at various points throughout my childhood, as well as having a sister who worked as a labor and delivery and postpartum nurse for most of her career. It is possible that I would want to pursue a certified nurse midwife/nurse practitioner degree in the future, but that would be many years down the road, if ever; there are no concrete plans in place for that at this point. 

As far as music goes, from home jam-sessions with my husband and family, to writing my own compositions and songs, to teaching lessons or even potentially leading ensembles at the elementary or high-school level, I see myself using my music degree all the time. I would say that the knowledge I gained during my time in my AS and BS in music degrees is even more valuable to me than the degrees themselves in many respects. I’ve learned so much that I will carry with me throughout my life, and though the degree titles are inherently valuable, the information I gleaned while earning them is invaluable.

If you could offer one piece of advice to incoming first-years at PUC, what would it be?
Embrace the changes that inherently come along with your first year in college and to go for the thing that seems audaciously out-there if it’s something that you truly want to pursue. It’s not too late to switch your declared major, not too late to change your mind in pursuit of the desires of your heart. By all means, be smart about it, but whether it means adding, switching, or dropping a degree, if that’s what you think is best for you – do it! And go all-in. 

Also, don’t wait any longer than you have to, because the sooner you make the switch, the more time your professors and advisors will have to work with you. Have those conversations early on, and bounce ideas off people you trust. I switched at the end of my first year, but there’s no “right way” to do it. It’s never too late to make a change. Don’t let your life decide itself for you–you get to hold the reins. Ask questions. Don’t let things just “happen to you” academically. Take an active role in your course planning, picking a major, and the timing, difficulty, and pace of your quarters.

And then, I would say something that seems almost contrary to my previous advice, but it isn’t: Prioritize your health, both mental and physical. Don’t push yourself too hard, it’s not worth it. Don’t hesitate to reach out when something feels off, and take advantage of the resources that PUC has to offer because no amount of hustle is worth your well-being. I pushed myself so hard and I got through it, but looking back I would advise my younger self to prioritize my health more. You’re a human, not a machine, and it’s important to realize that–and the earlier on, the better. 

Most of all, I want to say: You’ve got this! It’s a long road ahead, but if you find a major and future career that you love, and prioritize your well-being so that you can enjoy the journey and the destination, it will all be worth it.

Conquer Your First Month ON Campus 

Your first quarter of college was probably VERY different than you imagined, and for the record, we HATED not having everyone on campus and are thrilled to welcome everyone. Your first month on PUC’s physical campus will likely be a bit of a whirlwind. You’ll be meeting new people, learning new things, and having a new schedule. Here are some tips to help you get on the right track.  

Attend Class

You’re in college to go to classes and learn. Please do yourself a solid and attend class. If you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule early morning classes. If you rather have your evenings free, take classes in the afternoon. Make a schedule that you can work with that won’t make you skip class. 

Stay Organized 

By staying organized in college, you will have a better time conquering your assignments, tests, and other things. The first month of school may be overwhelming for you, so get a planner, use your calendar, just find a way that works for you to stay organized. 

Don’t Forget To Eat 

Please don’t forget to eat! Your health is important and if you don’t eat well, you might have a hard time concentrating. Fight the temptation to snack on junk food and instead indulge in healthier options. It’s a good idea to have water with you at all times. You must stay hydrated! 

Meet With Your Academic Advisor 

You’re going to have a lot of questions regarding your classes and major. Having meetings with your academic advisor will be very helpful to you. They are there to guide you in the right direction and help you out in any way they can. 

Put Yourself Out There 

One of the best things about college is that you get the chance to meet people from all over the world. It’s not always easy putting yourself out there, but during the first month, most students will feel the same way as you. Join clubs, study groups, intramurals, etc. Even if you’re scared, put yourself out there. 

Find Your Quiet Place 

From going to class, eating at the cafeteria, and living in the dorms, you’ll be surrounded by people most of the time. If you need your space and some quiet time, find a spot on campus that lets you have time to yourself. 

Get A Good Night’s Sleep 

Lack of sleep is what causes the most stress, so please make sure you’re getting good sleep every night. There will be nights where you and your friends stay up late studying and getting to know each other, but if you don’t get enough hours of sleep you won’t feel so great the next morning. 

Be True To Yourself 

College is a chance to have a fresh start, but don’t lose sight of your values and beliefs. You’ll be figuring out new things about yourself, but don’t feel that you have to act a certain way or be someone different just to fit in. Be true to yourself and let your light shine to others. 

Take in every moment during your first month on campus. Be open to change, new opportunities, and keep an open mind. Enjoy the beautiful Napa Valley and remember that your PUC family is here for you! 

 

Tips For A Great Move-In Day!

Move-in day is exciting! You arrive at your new home-away-from-home, you get to meet your new room and lots of new people, and you get to move into your new room! As exciting as it is, it can also be a little overwhelming so here are some tips to help you prepare for move-in day. We can’t wait to see you! 

Arrive On Time 

Keep note of what time check-in starts. It’s smart to move-in as soon as you can because it is a process. From checking-in with the front desk to fill out papers, to finally moving into your room, it can take longer than you think. Also the earlier you move-in, the more of a chance you will get a good parking spot.

Label Your Boxes and Containers 

If you are using boxes or containers to pack your things, label them. It’ll be helpful to remind yourself which of your items are in each box or container. It also makes unpacked MUCH faster. 

image_from_ios-1

Wash Sheets & Towels Beforehand 

It’s good to wash your bedsheets and towels before moving-in so it’s fresh and clean in your dorm room. Also, who wants to spend their first few days of college doing laundry?  

Clean Your Room Before Moving-In

Before you move your things in, make sure you do a quick clean. Disinfect your shelves, dressers, and desks. Vacuum or sweep the floor and clean your windows. Having large trash bags will also be helpful to you. After a hot summer, your room might be dusty so it’s smart to do a quick clean of your room before you bring your stuff in and unpack. 

Use A Dolly 

The dorm does provide dollies, but they are limited. If you don’t have a dolly and need one, ask your front desk. If you own a dolly, bring it with you. Having a dolly will make things easier for you to bring your things from your car to your room, especially big appliances like a fridge.  

Bring Tools & Supplies 

Tools and supplies such as scissors and command strips will come in handy when you move into your dorm room. Scissors are a tool you’ll need whether you’re opening up boxes or plastic packages. Command strips will help you decorate your room, like hanging up string lights or picture frames. You can’t put nails in your walls, so command strips are an easy way to hang things on your walls. 

image_from_ios

Have Water & Snacks 

Moving in takes a lot of time and work. It’s important to have cold water and snacks to keep you hydrated and energized during the process. You don’t want to get hangry while moving-in! (Once you’re all moved-in, reward yourself to a delicious meal!) 

Have Bathroom Essentials 

Don’t pack your toiletries at the bottom of the bag or box. Make sure you have easy access to the things you might need right away. Don’t forget to put toilet paper and soap in the bathroom right away!

Keep Receipts & Packaging

Once you move-in, you might realize you won’t actually use some of the things you bought. Keep your receipts and try not to damage the packaging boxes so you can return those items. We can all use some extra cash. 

Make a Shopping List 

You may realize there are things you forgot. You’re not alone, it happens to the best of us. Start a list with your roommate. A trip to Napa Target might be in your future.

Hopefully, these tips will help make your move-in day go a little smoother. Once you get to your designated residence hall, do not hesitate to ask the dean, RA, or dorm staff any questions or concerns you have. We can’t wait to see you around campus! 

Note: Be sure you carefully read your communications from Student Life to understand what COVID-19 safety precautions will be in place for move-in day this year and how that might alter your plans!