Monthly Archives: February 2015

Don’t Miss Out on Cal Grant!

If you’re a high school senior, by now you’ve realized a big part of your senior year is actually getting ready for next year, your first year of college. Even if you’ve already decided what school to attend and have been accepted, there’s still a lengthy to do list you need to complete.

One of the most important things you can do to get ready for college is fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This information is used by colleges to help them determine how much college-sponsored, state, and federal aid a student is eligible for, including grants and loans. Read our “Filling Out the FAFSA” blog post if you need tips on how to fill yours out.

For students who live in California, it’s critical to complete the FAFSA before the deadline for Cal Grant, which is March 2nd this year. Cal Grant is a significant award potentially worth $8,000+ and is money you don’t have to pay back. It can be used at most schools in California, including community colleges, California State University, University of California, and qualifying independent and career colleges or technical schools. Eligibility for Cal Grant is based on whether a student recently graduated high school, their verified GPA, their FAFSA, and the type of California colleges listed on their FAFSA.

Applying for Cal Grant takes just two simple steps!

  1. Submit your FAFSA. To ensure your FAFSA information is sent to the California Student Aid Commission to be considered for Cal Grant, the first three colleges you choose to receive your FAFSA information must be four-year colleges located in California – like PUC!
  1. Submit a GPA verification form. Your school may automatically submit your GPA for you, or you might need to submit it using the verification form. This form needs to be certified by your school and submitted to the California Student Aid Commission before the March 2nd deadline.

Need help?

It can be stressful to keep track of everything you need to get done to be ready for college, and adding in finances can make things extra confusing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and our Student Finance office has five Financial Counselors who can answer any questions you have about Cal Grant. They can be reached at or 800.862.7080 option 1.

You may also find reading through these Cal Grant FAQs helpful:

Editor’s note: This is dated material and does not necessarily reflect how the student financial services office at PUC and the financial process currently operates. Please contact your financial counselor for more information.

Alumni Profile: Tad Worku

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

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

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

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

Why did you choose PUC?

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

Tad Worku

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

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

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

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

Love Is All

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us why this cause is so important to you.

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

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

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

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

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

What are your plans for 2015?

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

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

10 Scholarships to Apply for This Winter

If you haven’t already started your scholarship search to help pay for college, now’s the time! At PUC we offer many scholarships for things ranging from athletics to leadership to the creative arts, but the deadline to apply is quickly approaching and we don’t want you to miss out! Remember, you need to be an accepted student and apply before the March 2nd deadline.

There’s also plenty of money available to students outside of what colleges offer, but you just have to look for it. Here’s a list of 10 scholarships open to high school seniors with application deadlines this winter or early spring.

1. Teens for Jeans
Deadline: February 15, 2015

Want a chance to help others and possibly earn some cash for yourself? is giving away a $10,000 scholarship to a student who organizes a jean drive for the homeless in their community. Every two pairs of jeans donated earns an entry into the scholarship lottery, and there isn’t a limit to the number of entries you can earn.

2. Toyota Teen Video Challenge
Deadline: March 16, 2015

If you’re into making videos, this is the scholarship for you! Create a video encouraging teens to drive safer and you could win $15,000. Another cool perk? If you win, you also get to work with a film crew to reshoot your video entry into a PSA to be aired on TV!

3. Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition
Deadline: March 25, 2015

This scholarship competition is not just open to high school seniors, but also to students in grades 7 through 11. You’re able to submit up to three original haiku poems for a chance to win $50 and have your poem published in Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America.

4. Superpower Scholarship
Deadline: March 31, 2015

How many of us have daydreamed what we would do if we had superpowers? The possibilities are endless. This short essay contest asks that you answer the question “Which superhero or villain would you want to change places with for a day and why?” The winner receives $2,500 to use towards their education.

5. American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship Program
Deadline: April 1, 2015

Taking a 10-question multiple choice test after reading an essay from the American Fire Sprinkler Association could earn you $2,000. For every question you answer correctly, you will receive one entry into a drawing for one of 10 $2,000 scholarships.

6. Project Yellow Light
Deadline: April 1, 2015

In honor of Hunter Garner, who died in a car accident, this scholarship asks students to create a 25 or 55 second video to encourage teens not to drive distracted. The winner receives a $5,000 scholarship, while the second place winner receives $2,000. Third place gets you $1,000.

7. All About Education Scholarship
Deadline: April 30, 2015

It’s no secret college education is expensive. This scholarship asks students to write a short essay in response to the question of “How will a $3,000 scholarship for education make a difference in your life?” The winner receives $3,000.

8. CollegeWeekLive Monthly $1,000 Scholarship
Deadline: Monthly

The requirements for this monthly scholarship drawing are pretty simple. Sign up for CollegeWeekLive, research at least three colleges while you’re logged on, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win $1,000.

9. “No Essay” Scholarship
Deadline: Monthly

I’m not sure scholarships get any easier than this, which is basically a monthly drawing. The winner receives $2,000 for simply entering the drawing.

10. Common Knowledge Scholarship
Deadline: None

Think of this ongoing scholarship program like taking BuzzFeed quizzes, only if you do well, you can receive scholarship money. Competitions include one or more quizzes on topics that range from academic subjects or even books and movies, and the student with the highest score at the end of each competition wins. Students can compete more than once, and are able to receive up to $5,000.

Editor’s note: This is dated material and does not necessarily reflect how the student financial services office at PUC and the financial process currently operates. Please contact your financial counselor for more information.

The Visual Arts Department: Inspiring Creative Community

By Professor Milbert Mariano, Chair Milbert Mariano
Visual Arts Department

During the holiday season, my home has a wall dedicated to Christmas cards my family has received from our family and friends. Over the years, the wall has begun to showcase an increasing number of cards from my former students. I love glancing at these cards and thinking of each of these students and the contribution they made in the Visual Arts program at PUC.

The best reward of being an educator for the past two decades is keeping in touch with my students and seeing where their studies in Visual Arts has taken them.  It’s been exciting to see our alumni of designers, photographers, fine artists, and filmmakers are making quite a name for themselves.

PUC’s Visual Arts students have gone on to work with many prestigious companies. Places like Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Apple, Netflix, Lucasfilm, Airbnb, Tapiture, and Martha Stewart Living. We have many alumni working for large ministries, such as 3ABN, Amazing Facts, and Maranatha Volunteers International, and even some grads—including myself—work at Pacific Union College, our alma mater.

Students at last year's annual Diogenes Film Festival.

Students at last year’s annual Diogenes Film Festival.

But success isn’t defined just by working for a company with name recognition. We have alumni working for smaller companies, doing what they love—creating and being creative. We also have many graduates who have started their own businesses. One alumnus is a documentary filmmaker, one has his own design studio, and another is a successful sculpture artist. Some have even branched out to other industries—but still incorporating design. Recently, one of our graduates started an organic cosmetics line from her home in St. Helena, just a few miles from PUC. She makes the products from scratch and uses her graphic design skills to create the packaging and her photography skills photographing her products. Her products are gaining popularity in boutique shops around the Napa Valley and beyond! (Editor’s note: You can learn more about Jassy and her business by reading her alumni profile on our blog.)

These success stories from our graduates inspire me as I work with our current students. As a department, we are continually looking for ways we can open new windows of opportunity for our majors. With quarterly trips to museums in the San Francisco Bay Area, tours of companies such as YouTube and Pinterest, field trips to historic design spots such as the Eames Ranch and M&H Type, and quarterly pre-vespers gatherings in faculty homes, our students have abundant and amazing opportunities which enrich their day-to-day, active learning.

PUC Visual Arts students at the Crocker Museum in Sacramento.

PUC Visual Arts students at the Crocker Museum in Sacramento.

This winter quarter alone, we’ll be busy with a trip to Alcatraz Island to see the Ai Weiwei exhibit, a weekend retreat for our department at PUC’s Albion Retreat and Learning Center on California’s Mendocino coast, and travels to Utah for the Sundance Film Festival. PUC students and faculty are continually being exposed to unique learning opportunities in and out of the classroom, which create great memories and Instagram posts. These students are coming back to their classes and labs and are creating works that are inspired and informed.

Best of all, these events are all couched within the Christian experience. We examine, consider, and make art from a Christian perspective and an understanding that beauty and creativity are inspired, and bestowed upon us, by our Creator God.

Of course, career progress isn’t the only reason why I love keeping in touch with my students. While it’s interesting to hear about alumni work, my first priority is to know how they are doing in life. After all, the advantage of a small, liberal arts college is the luxury of getting to know your students beyond their classwork. Oftentimes, by the time the student has graduated, we’ve gotten to know them so well that we can sincerely call them a friend.

Visual Arts professors Cliff Rusch and Milbert Mariano with new PUC alumni.

Visual Arts professors Cliff Rusch and Milbert Mariano with new PUC alumni.

One of my favorite memories as teacher was having a graduate ask for my help in proposing to his longtime girlfriend, who was also an alumna of the department. I remember the day they met in my class; even I noticed there was something special brewing between the two talented students. Years later, he stood in my living room, telling my wife and me of his plans to propose. Days later, I had the honor of accompanying the young man to pick up the engagement ring and setting up the proposal site: the very classroom where I taught these two students and where they first met.

We emptied the room of desks and decorated it with Christmas lights. We set a table with china, flowers, candles, and a cake in the center of the room.

This summer, my wife and I will be attending their wedding.

Things to Know About PUC’s Maxwell and Mostert Scholarships

We like throwing scholarships at our students. It’s just a thing we do. Occasionally we find ourselves doing crazy things, like awarding over $38 million dollars in financial aid every year. We’re so stoked about scholarships that every student who comes to school at PUC is eligible for some kind of financial aid. Some of the more popular ones are for academic achievement, athletics, or the arts.

I’m here to shine some light on two of the more exclusive award options for you. These are the rarer ones you’ll need to apply for. The first is our heavy-hitting Maxwell Scholarship, which awards $15,000 a year to five incoming freshmen each school year. My calculator tells me that adds up to $60,000 by the time you finish a four year degree. The fact I even joked about using a calculator should tell you I was not Maxwell Scholarship material…

To be eligible for this particular chunk of change you have to be accepted to PUC, eligible for the President’s and Dean’s Scholarships, and be an incoming freshman. You should also be able to show, “outstanding academic achievement, exceptional leadership experience, and a commitment to Christian service.” Things that improve your chances would be a high GPA, involvement in extracurricular activities and student leadership, as well as being active in your community. You don’t lose anything by applying, and five semi-finalists are also selected each year to receive $12,000 in renewable aid. So be sure to apply before March 2nd if you want to take a crack at it. (Please note, the Maxwell Scholarship cannot be combined with the President’s or Dean’s Scholarships.)

Another scholarship to keep an eye on is our Mostert Christian Leaders Scholarship. This is where all those years of volunteering for Vacation Bible School pays off! If you’ve demonstrated exceptional leadership in your church, school, or community, you could find yourself with a $2,000 renewable scholarship. This can be combined with other academic achievement scholarships you may be eligible for. Once again, you’ll want to submit your application before March 2nd to be eligible for this one.

In fact, March 2nd happens to be the deadline for all of our scholarship applications. So if your scholarship requires you to fill out an application, that’s when you’ll need to have everything turned in by. I’ll wait while you go make a note of that in your calendar.

The Maxwell and the Mostert Scholarships are just two of the many options available to students at PUC for financial aid, and now you should know what you need to get online and apply! Speaking of which, our scholarship applications can be found at Swing by, apply, and impress your friends and family when you start to rake in all that sweet scholarship cash.

Editor’s note: This is dated material and does not necessarily reflect how the student financial services office at PUC and the financial process currently operates. Please contact your financial counselor for more information.