Monthly Archives: June 2014

Viva Italia!

VeniceI get a lot of questions from students asking what study abroad opportunities PUC offers. It’s exciting to me that students are interested in traveling and learning about different cultures. Many students aren’t aware there are Adventist colleges and universities all over the world. As a PUC student, you have an opportunity to study at any of them for a summer or even a full year, in such places as Spain, France, Germany, Italy, England, Argentina, and even Israel, through Adventist Colleges Abroad, more often referred to as ACA.

You might be wondering, why would anyone want to “go ACA”? There are many reasons! It’s important for students to take advantage of the study abroad opportunities PUC offers because students can:

  • Gain real life experiences a classroom could never provide
  • Develop an expanded worldview and multicultural perspective
  • Strengthen proficiency in a foreign language
  • Experience personal growth
  • Travel
  • Make new friends
  • Increase career marketability, and more!

I didn’t have the courage to be away from my friends and family for an entire school year, so I chose instead to spend a summer at Istituto Avventista Villa Aurora in Florence, Italy. I had never been to Europe before and was pretty intimidated, but thankfully I was going with my brother and several good friends from PUC. When we arrived, the staff and faculty at Villa Aurora couldn’t have been more helpful getting us settled in and making sure we knew the right bus route to take to town as well as recommending the best pizza place nearby. Despite their help, on our first night out in Florence a group of us got horribly lost for several hours, which is something we can laugh about now but wasn’t very funny at the time! Over the next few weeks however, we got very comfortable figuring out how to get to our favorite gelato shop, where to find the best deal for an Italian leather purse, and even talking with locals in basic Italian. “Un piccolo di menta gelato, per favore,” became a phrase I memorized. (“One cup of mint gelato, please.”)

Part of the reason I chose to spend a summer abroad was to fulfill the language requirement for PUC’s general education requirements. By spending a summer in Italy, I was able to get one year’s worth of language credits, as well as some history and elective credits since I took beginning Italian language classes in addition to classes in Italian art history, Italian cooking, and Italian popular culture. My mornings were filled with classes, and the afternoons were spent with friends exploring Florence, eating real Italian gelato and pizza while sitting on the steps of the Duomo, Florence’s famous cathedral. Our evenings were devoted to homework and downloading new episodes of the Office off iTunes. It was a ridiculous amount of fun.

Besides classes, the school also took us on several field trips. We visited the Cinque Terre, Venice, and Rome, seeing sights like Piazza San Marco, the Grand Canal, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican, and so much more. One of my favorite memories is a trip my friends and I took during a free weekend to see the ruins of Pompeii, and we inadvertently booked ourselves at a four-star hotel. After weeks of living in a dorm room without air conditioning, it was heaven!

I realize how cheesy it sounds, but spending a summer in Italy not only gave me a greater appreciation of the world – but I also gained an appreciation of home. After weeks of being able to only communicate with people in a combination of basic Italian and hand gestures, it was wonderful to come home to the good ol’ USA and speak English. And eat something besides pizza. Believe it or not, it is possible to get sick of pizza. I strongly encourage anyone who is thinking of going abroad to go! Go while you can receive college credit and maybe even use loans to pay for it. Go before you graduate from college, get married, have kids, and have a job. You won’t regret it.

Visit for more information about Adventist study abroad opportunities or talk with an Enrollment Counselor to find out how studying abroad can help you reach your career goals. Call 800.862.7080 option 2 or email

Getting Involved with Service and Missions at PUC

By Ben Speegle
Office of Service, Justice, and Missions

What is the most important investment you can make during your time in college? Some will speak in hushed, revered tones of a quesadilla maker that not only properly cooks a quesadilla for you on both the top and the bottom simultaneously, but at the very same time also slices the grilled masterpiece, saving your hands from certain peril. Others will insist your best investment during college is a subscription to Netflix or Hulu Plus, or a similar platform for viewing television shows and movies, as this almost certainly gives you an excuse to not study.

However, I would like to propose the most important investment you can make during your time as a student of higher learning is an investment in experience. Pacific Union College is one of the highest rated colleges in its class; it has been described as the most beautiful college campus in the United States; its students report a substantial ROI. I find that PUC’s true beauty, though, lies in the opportunities it offers to its students. Among the legion of opportunities available, the opportunity to experience life and to experience God through service of others may be the most valuable.

Without a question, the best experience I had during my college years was the time I spent in Thailand teaching English as a student missionary. PUC was able to organize a ten-month trip to Bangkok, where I taught at the Seventh-day Adventist Language School. I had the opportunity to become fully immersed in a culture, to teach English, and to serve. During my stay, I learned the value of being able to accept that by myself, I am unable to do many things; however, the God I serve is able to do all things and is faithful to use me to the benefit of others.

Ben 1

Ben Speegle while in Thailand. Elephant names unknown.

From tutoring adults and teaching kindergarten classes to doing dental work at a prison and providing aid to refugee camps, I saw God working in incredible ways, despite my own shortcomings. All that was required of me was to embrace God’s leading and to echo Isaiah’s response of, “Here am I. Send me.”

Since returning from my mission trip, I graduated from PUC on a hot summer morning in June and was hired to work full-time in the Office of Service, Justice, and Missions with some of the most inspiring individuals with whom I have ever crossed paths. My mission trip had a profound effect on my character as well as my career path. Now my job is to invite other students to make the easiest decision of their college careers.

When you get to PUC, you have an incredible opportunity to become part of the changing culture developing here; a culture of service, where people see that the solution to problems isn’t complaining or sitting idly by, but rather taking an active stand. As such, I want to invite each of you to really make a difference, on three levels, while attending Pacific Union College.

PUC students participate in Rebuilding Calistoga, a ministry where students help senior citizens with home repairs and other needs.

PUC students participate in Rebuilding Calistoga, a ministry where students help senior citizens with home repairs and other needs.

1. Make a difference in the local community. Join us on Saturdays as we go to Clearlake and Berkeley or Calistoga to work in homeless and low-income communities near our campus. Are you wondering why I didn’t include a specific date you should join us? That’s because we go to these communities every Saturday. During Christmas time? Yes. Over spring break? Of course. During the summer? You betcha! Literally every weekend of the year, you have an opportunity to make an actual difference in the lives of those who desperately need to feel loved.

This past spring, PUC students went to Manaus, Brazil to to build a health clinic, provide water filters and water education, and teach English classes.

This past spring, PUC students went to Manaus, Brazil to to build a health clinic, provide water filters and water education, and teach English classes.

2. Make a difference through a short-term mission trip. Every school year, we send groups to different parts of the world, including a Navajo reservation in Arizona, the Amazon River in Brazil, a clinic in Nicaragua, and a school in Fiji. These trips usually last 10 days and are an incredible place to find the love of service that is naturally in every person.

3. Make a difference through a long-term mission trip. Fully Experience a new culture while serving internationally or become a task force worker within the United States. Round out your education with the real-life experience of being a blessing in a community and improving the quality of life in a location God has called you to serve.

That is my challenge to all PUC students, new and returning. You have opportunities here that may never come your way again. On graduation day, when you look back at your time at PUC, I hope you can say you received the fullest experience possible from our college on the hill, and you received far more than simply an education during your time in Angwin.

(Editor’s Note: PUC students are going on two short-term mission trips this summer! You can follow the students on their journey on the PUC Missions Facebook page.)

Dorm Life: What It Means To Be A Man of Grainger

By Aren Rennacker
BS in Public Relations & Journalism, Minor in Theology, 2011

Three years ago, I graduated from PUC. It was one of the greatest days of my life, the culmination of four years spent studying, growing, and oversleeping. I was thrilled to have reached the end, but sad to no longer be on the journey.

One of the best parts about that journey was the residence life. I know when most people think of cool college living, they don’t think of dormitories. It’s about getting an apartment, joining a fraternity or sorority, and not worrying about curfew. But at PUC, dorm life is a huge part of college. It’s as essential to the experience as buying books and writing papers. You can get off-campus housing (maybe), but for my lender’s money, I wouldn’t consider it.

My home from 2007-2011 was Grainger Hall, one of three male dorms on campus. Grainger is like a fraternity in that it emphasizes close community among its 160 tenants. The residents call themselves MOG, Men of Grainger, and are active in dorm events, such as Olympic games and Thursday night worships, and campus life, including vespers programs and athletics. They also hold fast to many long-standing traditions.
But what exactly makes a Man of Grainger? I was fortunate enough to serve as the head residential assistant of the dorm my final year (look out), so I figured I should research it and find out.

William C. Grainger, seated, second from left, looking like a boss.

William C. Grainger, seated, second from left, looking like a boss.

Grainger Hall’s namesake is William C. Grainger, a teacher at the original Healdsburg campus who became the college’s second president in 1886. Under his leadership, the college flourished. A tall, thin, dark-haired man (think the Adventist Abe Lincoln), Grainger came west after a grasshopper plague forced him out of Missouri. Tell me that doesn’t build fortitude.

Grainger was not a man of many words, but was known to always give his full time and attention to whomever he was with, no matter how busy his schedule was. He was known to stand up for women when male students did not fully respect them, and believed strongly in their abilities. He often trained women to be ready for work in the conference, even though employment opportunities for women at that time were rare. Finally, though he constantly used his Bible, he never made a mark in it because he worked hard to memorize Scripture. “W.C. is as true a Christian as Christian gets,” some old guy likely said.

So, what did I find out? Grainger Hall’s namesake always gave his time to others, deeply respected women, and was passionate about the Bible. That’s a Man of Grainger, and it makes me even more proud to be a part of MOG.

I’m writing this from a plane flying me home from Phoenix where I served in my friend’s wedding. The two of us met seven years ago as neighbors on Grainger’s third floor. I’ve got four more weddings in the next six months, all for guys I lived with at PUC. I’ll say again, one of the best parts of the PUC experience is the residence life. Keep in mind, all of our dorms are great., each with their own story. I hear Jim Newton invented the spork.

Following my PUC graduation, I moved down to San Diego to work at a church with an ocean view and perfect weather—and yet, I miss having 160 roommates. It helped shape who I am, created lasting memories, and gave me life-long friends. I may not be quite the man William C. Grainger was, but I think I’ve got one thing figured out: If you’re going to PUC, don’t be afraid to pass on the apartment.

(Editor’s Note: Check out our new video about PUC residence life!)

All About PUC’s Emergency Services Program

By Levi GoreLevi Gore
PUC Emergency Services program

Greetings! My name is Levi and I am one of the instructors in the Emergency Services program here at PUC. I have worked in the Nursing Department and Emergency Services program since 2009 after having worked as a registered nurse in the emergency room and intensive care unit as well as serving as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT). I graduated from PUC with my BS in Nursing and have recently completed an MS in Nursing with an emphasis in Family Nurse Practitioner. Currently, I teach classes ranging from Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) to Emergency Vehicle Operations (EVOC) and Technical Rescue, as well as clinical nursing instruction for the AS nursing program. Enough about me though. I am excited to tell you a little about our program and the new Bachelor of Science degree in Emergency ServicesEMS 3

Our Emergency Services program consists of an AS and BS degree with an emphasis placed on public safety leadership and management. The AS focuses primarily on obtaining entry level medical and rescue skills (EMT and technical rescue) with the BS focusing on leadership and management skills. The degrees are set up so that the first two years of the BS degree is the AS degree – therefore students can graduate twice! Whether you stop at the AS or continue for the BS, our goal is to give you a strong foundation of medical and leadership skills to prepare you for a job in the emergency services/public safety realm. I encourage you to go to our website ( and look at the full range of classes that are a part of the degrees.

So, if you are thinking of heading towards a career in the fire service, emergency medical services, law enforcement but will need/would like a college degree in a related field, or if you are thinking of going to medical school, then the BS in Emergency Services might just be the perfect fit! Should you decide that this might be a good fit for you, here are some things to remember as you prepare to head to PUC:

  1. Breathe. Air is important and when stressed, some people tend to forget this point.
  2. Look at getting CPR certified in BLS for Healthcare Providers through AHA before coming to PUC, which will help streamline your first quarter (Go to for a list of classes).
  3. Once at PUC, develop a support network of friends in the major so you can study together and experience training together.
  4. Exercise. It’s good for you.
  5. Finally, spend time in daily reflection as it will help clear your mind and help you prepare for what the day brings.


Again, PUC is so excited to offer this new BS degree and I look forward to meeting you in person. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact either Enrollment Services ( or myself ( and we will be happy to help in any way we can. You can also check out our Facebook page at

Alex’s Advice – Explore!

Alex Dunbar7297A65C-1BC6-4497-B122-C0EDCF91A8CE
BS in Exercise Science Health and Nutrition, 2014
AS in Health Science, 2014
From Redding, CA

Things I love about PUC: The people! Everyone is super nice and friendly. The professors are always willing to go above and beyond to help you, and your fellow students are more than just classmates – they are friends you will have forever.

Things I’ll miss about PUC: I will miss the PUC atmosphere – everyone I have had the privilege of getting to know here on campus (they are truly some of the most amazing people I have ever met), as well as the spiritual and upbeat vibe you get on campus. I will also miss running on the trails in PUC’s beautiful Back 40!

What I wish I had known: I wish I had known about the Napa area more. There are so many fun places to eat and explore! From restaurants and shops to beaches and hiking trails, there is so much to do! Plus, I always see familiar PUC faces when I’m out and about, which is great.

Tips for freshmen: 1. Get to know your professors! This will make your classes more enjoyable and open the door to unexpected friendships. 2. Get a job! Working on campus allows you to meet a variety of people, and make some extra cash for those lovely textbooks. 3. Get involved! Don’t be cooped up in your room too much – get out and discover more of what PUC has to offer.

My Life With 25.2 Credits

Everyone calls me crazy and… they’re right
By Suwanna Vatananan Suwanna

(Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared in a recent issue of The Campus Chronicle.)

You would think that when I took 21 credits last quarter, I would’ve learned my lesson. But, here I am, in the last quarter of my undergraduate career, wanting to pull all my hair out with a whopping 25.2 credits. I mention the .2 because, for the first time in all four years of college, I actually paid more attention to school when I was overloading than when I was doing the average 12-17 credits, so every little ugly detail has begun to count for me. I’m really hoping that after reading this, you will learn from my mistakes and make the most out of your time at PUC. So, here are a few pointers to make your life significantly easier than mine:

1. Plan out your class schedule ahead of time. If you can do it as far as a year in advance; even better. There’s nothing worse than having to stay an extra quarter or having to double up on your school load.

2. Believe it or not; sleep is super important. All those adults grilling you all these years were right when they said you need eight hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep builds up and when you don’t get a sufficient amount, it ruins everything. The video games, Skype sessions, binge TV watching, or whatever you do at night can seriously wait. Trust me, your health will thank you later.

3. Make time for yourself. I learned this one the hard way. It’s all fun and games until you’re suffering from pure exhaustion. Learning how to say “no” goes along with this as well. It’s not easy, I know. I’m still learning how to do that myself. If you have to think twice about whether or not you can help a friend with something or when you can pencil them in, it’s probably something you shouldn’t be doing in the first place. With six billion other people on this planet — and 1,677 other people in this school — there’s bound to be someone else that can lend a helping hand.

4. It’s okay to not be okay. I’m someone who gets overwhelmed easily, but would rather hold it in and act like nothing is wrong. I have learned there is nothing wrong with struggling. Learn different ways to help yourself de-stress. I’ll share a couple of things I do when I’m stressed. Bear with me; they are the most random combination of things in the world! I’ll either go get an espresso shake with Oreos from Gott’s; you might find me going for a run around campus; or I’m probably in my room watching something on Netflix. It all depends on your mood and who you are, but having plenty of options is what will help you get through the rough times.

5. Lastly, keep your friends and family close. I’m not talking about proximity either. I mean talk to them daily, tell them what is going on in your life, or go and do something spontaneous and fun. At the end of a long a day, it is that group of people who will drop everything just to check in with you and put a smile on your face.

College is rough, and anyone who told you otherwise wasn’t telling the truth. But you wouldn’t be here if you were incapable of getting through it. Keep your head up! If I can survive through 25.2 credits when senioritis is supposed to be in full gear, then you are going rock at anything you do.

What Can You Do With a Communication Degree?

By Michelle Rai, Chair Michelle Rai
PUC Communication Department

What can you do with a communication degree?

It’s a question I get asked regularly. Actually, my friends and family members asked me that same question when I attended PUC back in the day.

The answer is this: you can do anything with a communication degree. Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of the careers our communication graduates are in now: PR/marketing director, lawyer, TV news anchor, medical doctor, filmmaker, computer engineer, teacher, pharmacist and more. The list goes on and on.

Why? The top skills employers are looking for include: 1) Communication skills 2) Problem solving/critical thinking skills and 3) Interpersonal/teamwork skills. In other words, you need to write well and know how to talk to people. You need to figure things out on your own. And you need to work with others to achieve results.

And guess what? All of those skills can be honed — dare I say perfected — by majoring in communication.

We cross-train all of our majors in newswriting and editing, intercultural communication, research and more. We require internships and help students hand pick the best experience for them, whether it’s implementing social media strategies for a fashion designer in San Francisco or working alongside the public relations team for the San Diego Chargers. We help you gain hands-on experience that you’ll never find at a big university. And to top it all off, our professors are a tight-knit group of professionals who are experts in their fields.

Check out these excerpts from unsolicited messages (that’s right, I didn’t ask for these emails!) from our communication graduates:

“I am proud to say that PUC greatly cemented the confidence I have in the necessary skill sets that I now see are key to getting through law school. All of the education I received at PUC was QUALITY, and when comparing stories with people who went to the big state schools I am doubly thankful I attended a place where professors really care about your well-being, education and post-graduate life.”
–COMM department graduate attending law school

“We had our first test week. Super stressful, but it went well. And, I just wanted to let you know my COMM degree helps in medical school. Besides communicating with others, we even covered similar topics, such as kurtosis and skews from Dr. McGuire’s Comm Research class!”
–COMM department graduate attending medical school

“I’m just writing to let you know that my first month went very well! I have caught errors in copy on the second proof before they go to print, and that makes me feel like I’m doing something right. I’ve been using many of the skills I learned in our department, and I’m very grateful for the time [my professors] took to work with me and develop my potential. I feel very fortunate to have gotten a job in my field so soon after graduation.”
–COMM department graduate working at a communication and publishing firm

So what can you do with a communication degree? I believe the better question is: What can’t you do with a communication degree?

Why You Should Take a Summer Class at PUC

Can I make a confession to you? I didn’t enjoy school growing up. It was right up there with butternut squash on the list of things that I actively disliked. I warmed up to academia by the time I got to PUC, but if you were to go back in time to tell my younger self that I’d have to eventually take summer classes in college (because what else would you do with the ability to time travel?) I can guarantee he would’ve pitched a royal fit.

But I did wind up taking two summer courses while I was a student here, and I’ll be the first to admit I had a good time doing it. PUC offers a range of classes every summer, and you get a 50% discount on tuition as well as housing. “But Jordan,” you say, “it’s the summer! Won’t that get in the way of my plans to unicycle through the Alaskan tundra?” Fortunately, I’ve got good news for you, globetrotter. Most summer classes don’t take more than two or three weeks, depending on the credit hours. So you’ll still have plenty of time for oddly specific vacations, or finding work.

Summer Class 1

One of the biggest benefits of the summer session is the smaller class sizes. This gives you better access to your teachers, and more meaningful ways to interact with the coursework. Some of the best discussions I had in college happened in the summer section of Dr. Paul McGraw’s Critical World Issues class. There were only eight of us, but every class period was an opportunity to share ideas and expand our perspectives.

It can be a little rigorous, since you’re stuffing a quarter’s worth of classes into several weeks. But I prefer to look at it like diving into a swimming pool rather than walking in one step at a time. I got to the end of the summer classes I took, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I had learned in less than a month.

If you like the sound of a more intimate classroom setting with a laid back atmosphere (offered at half the price), then you might want to consider raking up a few credits during the summer sessions. And if the guy who used to have a “Hatfield and McCoy” relationship with school tells you he enjoyed it, you know it’s something special. You can check out the details and fine print here at

The Places I Have Come to Love the Most

Author’s Note: These are my top five(ish).

Mendocino/Sonoma Coastline – Quick fact: It seems counter intuitive to pack warm clothes when going to the beach but, I assure you, northern California’s coast doesn’t care about your intuition. Whatever the temperature is in the valley, it is guaranteed to be 20 degrees cooler on the coast. Several parks and campsites provide day and weekend getaways for the outdoor enthusiast or mariner. Cliff side paths offer lookouts over sheer drop-offs and sprawling views of the Pacific Ocean.

Sonoma Coastline

College tends to bring stress levels up to dizzying heights and the solution: take a drive. The numerous easy-winding roads and small towns that inhabit the coast are worth the gas money.

Sonoma Coastline 2

Farmstead/Ike’s Place – I am often asked, “What makes PUC so special?” I’ve heard this question so many times, I can pretty much tell when it’s coming. Without realizing it, I just awkwardly blurt out the word “food”, interrupting the individual midway through their question. For me, it’s hard to think of a time when food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but I digress. Given the chance, I normally recover and elaborate my original involuntary yap about why I have stayed at PUC.

Although the area is home to so many quality eateries, I’m lucky (you’re lucky) to have narrowed it down to two. Farmstead is housed in a revamped barn and features a farm-to-table menu with food foraged locally and cooked in a southern style method. (i.e. wood burn grilling and smoking) If you’re looking for something more casual, Ike’s Place has you covered. After perfecting the art of sandwich making in San Francisco, Ike’s spread its delicious footprint to the neighboring Sonoma Valley. Ike’s bread is freshly baked and packaged with their “Dirty Secret Sauce” which has me drooling as I write this at 6:22 a.m.

AT&T Park – The spring time has a polarizing effect on me. On one hand, spring means baseball season, and on the other, crippling allergies. Even if it feels like I’m breathing through a straw, baseball always tips the scale in favor of spring. AT&T Park happens to be the home of my beloved Giants but even if you’re a casual fan it’s a place you should consider visiting. Ranked as one of the better ballparks in the league, AT&T offers land and cityscape views of the San Francisco Bay and surrounding metropolis. Prepare to have your attention fought over as what happens in the water, at times, will rival what’s happening in the stadium. Also, garlic fries.


Fox Theater – I had not heard of this venue nearly my entire college lifetime, which was strange since I was road tripping to a show nearly once a week. After nearly four decades in disrepair, Fox Theater, which resides in downtown Oakland, was restored in 2009. Its interior is a medley of the Art Deco Period mixed with Middle Eastern grandeur. This combination of ill-fitted architecture presents a unique and charming home to several concerts throughout the year and remains a favorite venue of mine.

Fox Theater

Each year may see new adaptation to my list. I’ve spent seven years in this area but I’m constantly discovering new places within reach. Yours will undoubtedly differ from mine but that’s what is great about this territory – there is something for everyone.