Monthly Archives: October 2023

Q&A with Aimee Wyrick-Brownworth: Dean of the School of Sciences, Associate Professor Biology Department

Aimee Wyrick-Brownworth has been working at Pacific Union College for 19 years. She is an associate professor of biology and was made the Dean of the School of Sciences in April. The dean’s job description has many facets, and though academics is the primary responsibility, she will take on enrollment, student life, and advancement initiatives. 

PUC will be a three-school model this coming school: Nursing & Health Sciences; Arts, Humanities, & Professions; and Sciences. Aimee will be one of three deans to help lead the college and will protect the School of Sciences faculty and guarantee they are at their best for the students. Her vision is to increase awareness of and accessibility to PUC academically excellent and Christ-centered education. 

Tell us about being a dean. 

These are the early days, so I am meeting with faculty and leaders of each department and others across campus. I am lucky to have colleagues committed to working as a team, and we are working together to identify priorities and action steps. The dean’s job description is multifaceted, and though academics is the primary responsibility, I will take on enrollment, student life, and advancement initiatives. I look forward to ongoing collaboration with the School of Sciences team to complete necessary and aspirational tasks that are currently difficult to implement or complete. 

I support, encourage, and protect the School of Sciences faculty and ensure they are happy, healthy, and at their best for our students. I work with the other deans and the VPAA to minimize distractions – ensure systems are consistent, inefficiencies are minimized, and processes are streamlined. As a result, faculty can focus on their students and classes. I advocate for departments in the School of Sciences and will (loudly) share firsthand knowledge of the great things going on here. I will help to recruit top-notch students that are a good fit for PUC and the School of Sciences. I plan to connect more (and more often) with the community and constituency that lies beyond our immediate campus.

What’s your vision for your school?

My vision is to increase awareness of and accessibility to our academically excellent and Christ-centered education. Our graduates think critically, are well-prepared for their profession, and show kindness. We want to expand the number of students that we train so that they, in turn, can increasingly serve others and the planet. I want to ensure that the School of Sciences faculty and staff find satisfaction in their work, feel supported, and are given the space and time to access their creativity and pursue passion projects. I want us to illustrate to our students, constituency, and others that the personal and financial investment at PUC is worth it and, even, that the education gained is priceless.

How can PUC help you accomplish your department goals?

PUC, as an institution, should support initiatives that enhance campus morale. The administration must clearly communicate with the campus about challenges and opportunities. At every opportunity, faculty and staff should collaborate to create and pursue campus initiatives and to problem-solve. PUC should ensure that student voices are heard and that all students feel safe and respected. 
The greater PUC (constituency and alumni) can support us by sharing the good news and great things that are going on at PUC. Our constituency can build us up by refusing to engage in negative speculation or spreading misinformation about our campus and future. The School of Sciences also needs your tangible support – send students our way and donate to student scholarships or other worthy causes on our campus.

What is your favorite part about working in academics?

I can interact with others (colleagues, students, church community) to encourage open discussion and inclusion. Though different views will persist, I hope that we can avoid emphasizing who is right or wrong and instead reflect God’s love and be Christ-like. I enjoy serving the diverse students who are in my classes. Doing this well requires me to juggle a multitude of duties, but doing this relies effectively on my personal enthusiasm and currency in these course areas. I gain strength from my students and my colleagues. The encounters and relationships with these people keep me coming back for more. 

What is one thing you want people to know about PUC?

The faces and names may be different, but PUC is and offers what we always have- an excellent Christ-centered education within a supportive environment. Unfortunately, many don’t understand why this is an advantage and/or how this translates in a world so focused on the immediate and tangible. I know that Adventist education is different and is, in most cases, superior to other public or private schools. I am excited to be at PUC, where I see from day-to-day the difference my colleagues and I make in the lives of these students. We are invested in their academic success, but that’s not all – we are interested in them as people and want them to have personal success as well.

What do you love most about living in the Napa Valley?

California, the Bay Area, and particularly the Napa Valley location can’t be beaten. We live amid an internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot. As a biologist, you can’t ask for a more diverse and interesting part of the world to study and study in. I enjoy PUC’s extensive acres of wildlands and can even watch bald eagles soar overhead and see pileated woodpeckers in my backyard! PUC is truly “Where Nature and Revelation Unite in Education”.

Ways to Cope with Anxiety in School

Many students share the struggle of having anxiety in school. With a lot of things going on at school, anxiety can build up. Some have figured out what helps them cope with their anxiety, while others don’t know where to start. Here are ten ways to cope with anxiety. 

Have A Routine

Having a routine keeps you on track with what you need to do. Your routine shouldn’t just consist of what time to wake up, do homework, or when to eat, but also when to rest and do things you enjoy. 

Take A Break

Taking breaks is essential to coping with your anxiety. There is so much going on around us that we need to take time to step away from the noise to catch our breath. Put your books, notes, and laptop aside for a bit. Treat yourself to a snack break, watch your favorite show, nap, or go for a walk to clear your mind. Always make sure to take breaks. 


It can be easy to forget to breathe when your anxiety builds up. When your anxiety gets to you, close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths. By focusing on your breathing, you’ll ease back into yourself. 

Eat Well, Feel Well

Make sure you’re eating healthy food every day. Having a healthy diet helps shift our mood and can calm our reactions when we’re hit with anxiety.  Try to avoid junk food and anything else that makes you feel sluggish. When you eat well, you feel well. 

Go Offline

You’re already spending a lot of time looking at a screen, so give your eyes a break. Disconnect from social media and go offline. 

Spend Time Outside

Spending time outside can help you feel more present and improve your well-being. Step away from the books once in a while and go outside to breathe fresh air and get your body moving. 


Many people find journaling therapeutic and helpful in handling their anxiety. Writing down what you’re feeling and what’s happening in your life can release stress and anxiety. 

Get Creative 

Get on the creative side of handling your anxiety by drawing, painting, coloring, sketching, or creating something. Having your favorite playlist or calming music in the background also helps relax your mind. 

Talk To Someone You Trust 

Talk to someone you trust about your anxiety. Whether that be a family member, friend, teacher, pastor, or school counselor. You are not alone and there is always someone you can talk to. 

Spend Time With God 

Last, but certainly not the least, is to spend time with God. Talk to God and tell him what’s giving you anxiety. Read his words and take his promises to heart. Through him, you will find peace, strength, and rest. 

Remember that you are not alone. Many students experience anxiety in school and at PUC, we take that seriously. Our Counseling Center is available to all students for free, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment. You can call the office at (707) 965-7080 or email

Faces of PUC: Marriah Smith 

Born in Modesto, CA, is senior student Marriah Smith who is majoring in biology and business management for medical professionals. The faculty from PUC’s biology department is her favorite thing about being a part of the Pioneers family. Knowing she can count on them in a crisis or receive great advice- they have become a part of Marriah’s family. 

What is your dream job? 

To become a veterinarian.  

How does that compare to what you wanted to be when you were young? 

When I was 5 years old, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I’ve always wanted to be some kind of doctor.  

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

I love the faculty in the biology department. They have become a part of my family. I’m so grateful for them. I know I can count on any of them if I’m ever in a crisis, or just need advice. I also love taking care of all the animals in Clark Hall. Especially the snakes.  

Where is your favorite place in the world, and why? 

I don’t have a favorite destination. For me it’s all about the people and animals I’m surrounded by. Being around good people and being in the company of animals is where I’m happiest. I’m also happy whenever I’m spending time in nature, like in my garden.  

What is something you’re passionate about? 

I’m passionate about cooking, gardening, conservation, and animals.   

Can you recommend a place to go in the Bay Area on a weekend? If so, where?

I would suggest going to San Francisco to eat at one of Michael Mina’s restaurants.  

It’s Okay To Feel Homesick

Even though college is an exciting time to embrace your independence and take on new adventures, being homesick is very common. No matter how far or close you are to home, there will be times you’ll feel homesick, so we’ve put together tips on how to cope with missing home.

Bring Pieces of Home With You 

One way to get more comfortable in your dorm room is bringing pieces of home with you. Bring your favorite pillow, blanket, or mug. Develop photos with your family and friends to keep around your room or in your planner. Things you’re able to pack that remind you of home, take it with you. 

Make Your Room Homey

Your dorm room will be your room away from home, so make it as homey as possible for yourself. Bring your personality into life from the little things like decor, to the big things like your bedding, towels, and 

Hangout With School Friends 

Plan outings with your friends- and take advantage of our beautiful campus and town, or have a movie or game night and cook food together. There are many things you and your friends can do on and off-campus.   

Keep Yourself Busy

Keep yourself busy by getting more involved with school. Join clubs, intramurals, music or ministry groups, or attend campus activities, events, or volunteer opportunities- Schedule time to do things you enjoy and when to have downtown. College will give you a structured schedule, so create a balance that will benefit you. 

Go Outside

It can be tempting to stay in your room, cozied up in bed watching your favorite shows, but don’t be cooped inside all the time! Don’t pressure yourself to socialize if you’re not in the mood but go outside for a walk, take a drive around the Napa Valley, and have a day for yourself. 

Treat Yourself 

Speaking of going outside, go out and treat yourself! There are things from home we just can’t get anywhere else, but you can try to find something that’s close. College will be like your second home, so find places that you enjoy and bring you happiness. 

Keep In Touch With Home 

Whenever you miss home, call or message your family or friends. It might make you miss home more, but being able to talk and see them virtually can make your homesickness more manageable. Home is always a phone call away. 

Make The Most of Time At Home

Always make the most of your time at home. Eat your favorite home-cooked meals, go to your favorite places, and spend time with your friends and family. Whatever you love doing at home, do it, because there is no place like home.  

Remember, it’s okay to feel homesick! Everyone at PUC knows what it feels like, so talk about it with your friends, advisor, counselor, and even your professors because we are all here to care and support one another. 

Faces of PUC: Andrea Maidan  

Andrea Maidan chose to attend PUC because it allowed her to be in nature and was highly recommended to her by friends and family. “The educational aspects and the fact that it is centered around God – this was another reason I wanted to attend,” said Andrea. She is majoring in biology, and pre-dentistry, and will be entering her sophomore year this month.

What is your dream job?   

My dream job is something to do with dentistry. General, Orthodontics, Maxillofacial, or Periodontics – I’m not settled on a specific specialty, but I know that I’ll be happy no matter what specialty I go into.  

How does that compare to what you wanted to be when you were young?  

I’ve always wanted to go into dentistry since I was young. Biannual dentist visits was where this passion started. I didn’t have any bad experiences with dentists, as some do, so I want to share this good experience with others. The methodical, hands on system that goes on in this field was a big plus since I knew I wanted a job with these aspects.   

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

My favorite thing about being part of the Pioneers family is the welcoming nature of everyone here. There’s always a smiling face that welcomes you. The inclusivity I’ve witnessed here is a special feature of this school.  

Where is your favorite place in the world? 

Anywhere out in nature! I love being out and about hiking, walking around, and exploring.  

What movie would you want to be trapped in for a day?

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Wes Anderson. 

What is something you’re passionate about?  

Making food for other people! Cooking and baking – say less. I love learning new recipes and just making food for people I care about.  

Recommend a place to go in the Bay Area on a weekend  

Not sure if this counts as the ‘Bay Area’, but Fern Canyon is an A+ hiking spot. It’s also where Jurassic Park was filmed! 🦕 

Sorting Out Priorities in College

The older you get, the more responsibilities you have. In college, responsibilities come at you from every direction. From school life to your personal life, countless things need your attention. Here are five tips to help you figure out how to sort out your priorities. 

Ask Yourself What Your Goals Are 

Think about what you need to accomplish and what direction in life you want to take. What kind of degree do you want? What steps are you taking to learning more about your career choice? Do you want to get involved in school or within the community? You don’t need to know all the answers right now, but at least have a goal you want to reach. 

Identify Your Priorities 

After knowing what your goals are, it’ll help you see what your priorities are. Obviously, school is one of them. Outside of that, you might have priorities from extracurricular activities. A job or your personal could also be things that need your attention. 

Know What’s Not So Important 

There’s going to be times where your friends want to hangout or people asking you for a favor, but you might be too busy already. When your schedule gets too packed and you’re feeling stressed, you have to let go of the things that aren’t a top priority. Knowing what’s not so important will allow you to put your time and effort into the actually important things.

Be Flexible 

We can control what we do, but we can’t control what life throws at us. When the unexpected happens, learn how to be flexible. Workaround the issue and focus on what you can control, rather than what you cannot control. Reorganize your priorities and see what you can do. 

Find A Balance

With everything that you need to do, find a balance on how to finish it all. This goes from eating, studying, and completing assignments, to making sure you take a break. Set goal times for when you want to finish each priority and to also make time for yourself. 

There aren’t enough hours to do everything, which is why sorting out your priorities is very important. No matter how many priorities you have, remember to make yourself a priority.