Author Archives: dcnegro

Staying Fit in College

Everyone’s heard of the dreaded “Freshman 15”. You begin college and suddenly you gain 15 pounds and find yourself in dire need of cash for some new jeans. Now, as a poor college student, that’s not ideal so let’s skip the extra pounds and empty wallets by using some easy tips to stay fit!

Take the stairs
Any college you go to is going to have stairs, so, take them! Who needs to spend hours on a stairmaster when you can just choose the stairs over the elevator? If you choose to attend PUC, you’ll have the best legs around because there are a lot of stairs, which is something I didn’t always appreciate but now miss as I run every night in a Fitness Center.

Leave your car and walk
I know the thought of getting up 10 minutes earlier and walking to class sounds rough, especially when you have a perfectly good car parked outside your dorm and it might even be cold! But ditch your car and walk to class. It’ll save you gas money AND help keep you fit!

Go for the healthy cafe options
Starting college offers most students a new experience – eating whatever you want, whenever you want! The thought of unlimited ice cream, donuts and chips can be very enticing but try opting for the healthier options (at least some of the time). Like many colleges these days, PUC’s Dining Commons offers healthy and locally grown options so instead of grabbing a bag of chips on the run, have a salad or some fruit instead. And remember, no one said you couldn’t have a cheat day now and then!

Avoid the post-workout burrito
You’ve just finished a great 60 minute workout in the school’s Fitness Center and you’re feeling hungry, so you run to the cafe and have the famous Burrito Lady make you a giant world class burrito. You are now officially a PUC student! I know this sounds like an epic night but don’t do it. As good as those burritos are, you’ve now just undone all your hard work. Avoid the post-workout binge!

Join an intramural team
As you’ve read in our “Fire It Up!” post, PUC’s intramural program is second to none! Not only is this a fantastic way to meet friends and get involved but it is the best way I can think of to stay fit. No endless running on a treadmill or around and around a track!

Take full advantage of the back 40
Any college you choose is going to have places nearby to run or walk but not all places are going to be like PUC, which has over 30 miles of hiking, biking and running trails. Take full advantage of the beautiful property and get outside and explore! Run or walk along the Angwin Airport, visit one of the two observatories or take off on the trails for the afternoon. And if you ask nicely, I might even let you take this little face for a walk! (I just really want people to walk my dog.)


Six Tips for Visiting Colleges

College Days

Visiting students pose with Pioneer Pete, our mascot.

Whether it’s your senior year and you’re in the final decision making process or you’re a sophomore just beginning the college search, one of the most exciting parts of choosing a college is getting to visit different campuses to see which one is the right fit for you. During your college search you’ll likely visit a number of campuses, so before you do, here are a few campus visit tips to make sure you make the most out of your time on a college campus!

1. Register Ahead
If you’re visiting a college during one of their scheduled events (like our College Days), make sure you’ve registered to have your space reserved and confirm your travel plans. If you’re coming for an individual visit with your family or a few friends, always make arrangements with the school’s visit coordinator to have the best experience possible. Our visit coordinator can be reached at or at 707.965.6336.

2. Come with Questions and Write Down the Answers
There are many questions you assuredly have about college life. Make sure you don’t waste time by asking questions you can easily find the answer to on your own. Come prepared with a few questions you can only have answered there, such as what campus social life is like or how to get involved in student ministries. It’s a good idea to bring a notebook to write down the answers to your questions, that way you can look back at the answers you received when visiting each school!

3. Talk with a Financial Counselor
These days, the number one factor in choosing a college for a lot of people is finances. Figuring out how you’re going to pay for college is very important and can be an extensive process involving exciting things like W-2s and tax transcripts. When scheduling your visit to a school, always ask about meeting with a financial counselor who can give you advice on how you can make college possible. Visitors to our campus can always set up an appointment with one of our financial counselors.

4. Talk to Faculty and Students
While you’re on campus, you want to take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn as much as you can. Make sure you set up an appointment with a professor in the department of your academic interest. You should also try to go out of your way to speak to professors and students you happen to encounter during your visit. It can be very beneficial to get perspectives about a school from many different people, and to get this information firsthand.

5. Eat in the Cafeteria
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t like to eat? If you think a school’s cafeteria isn’t an important factor in your college decision, you’re mistaken! If possible, plan to have a meal there when visiting. This is also an excellent time to meet some current students!

6. Explore Nearby Areas
While you’re on campus, take some time to explore as much of it as you can – walk around and look at everything it has to offer you. You should also try to visit different areas nearby. Stop in some local shops and check out the restaurants. This is the area you’ll call home for nine months out of every year for the next four years, so getting acquainted with the local life is a definite must!

As I write this post, I have my planner open with a giant checklist of things to complete before our first College Days event, which is coming up very soon! These events are offered four times a year and give high school students a chance to spend some quality time on our campus. Students will sit in on real classes, visit with professors and current students, and experience a little piece of college life. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, go to to learn more and you can also register if you want to attend.

You can also learn more about scheduling an individual visit to our campus using the above link.

If you can’t visit, don’t worry! It’s nearly impossible to physically visit every school you’re interested in and we won’t take it personally if you can’t make it out to our campus (well… we might). Although there is nothing better than firsthand experiences, you can learn a lot about campus life, academics, and much more on our Admissions website, including a virtual tour offering with many photos of our beautiful campus.

Get to Know Daniel DeCaires, PUC SA President

Daniel Decaires

Last year, Daniel DeCaires decided he wanted to leave his mark on PUC and ran for Student Association President, and won. Now entering his senior year, he has big plans for our campus! As a kid from the public school system with no discernable connection to Adventism, I wanted to find out why Daniel decided to come to PUC and what made him fall in love with the school.

Daniel came to PUC because he wanted to do something different. He grew up within the public school system and was becoming disenchanted by the end of his high school career. Everything seemed to become so impersonal to him and he really wanted to be somewhere with a sense of togetherness and belonging. He recognized the people who graduated from PUC got more than just an education – they had people surrounding them who genuinely cared about their success beyond college, and who did their best to ensure students had the best possible experience while attending.

I asked Daniel to answer a few questions about his experience at PUC and his plans for his future.

Two favorite things about PUC
1.) The small class sizes. I’ve gotten to know my professors and build a relationship with each one as I’ve progressed throughout college.
2.) The aesthetics. This is one of the most beautiful regions in the Napa Valley and there are too many places to count which offer incredibly beautiful hikes and drives.

Favorite class at PUC
Management—Professor Nunes has seriously changed my life for the better and in addition to being my favorite professor he has become my mentor and dear friend. I have learned as much outside the classroom from him as inside. He is an awesome guy.

Career Goals
I plan to graduate with a degree in Business and immediately begin working at Kaiser Permanente as a financial analyst. Kaiser has already agreed to pay for my master’s degree as long as I stay with them for an additional three years after completion. Eventually I plan to start and oversee a fully operational medical clinic in either Central or South America, offering medical services to the underprivileged people of a developing country.

Why PUC?
Pacific Union College can be as great as you want it to be. You get to decide how involved you are and just how incredible of an experience you have. Up here, people care about you. If you’re having a bad day, people take notice and ask if you’re ok. What other college can you say that about? The teachers care about your education, even classes they don’t teach, and they truly care about you as a person. Your friends are always close by and someone is always willing to help you when you need it most. Overall, this college offers far more than an education, it offers an experience, and it is an experience you will never forget with people you’ll always have in your life.

Let’s Talk Social Media

Back when I started college, MySpace was basically the only social media anyone bothered to use. Facebook still required a college email to log in, Twitter barely existed and most cell phones didn’t have cameras—so you know Instagram was still a thing of the distant future.

My point in telling you this is not to reveal how ancient I am but to show you how, in such a SHORT time (I’m not that old!), social media has taken over! Before, the biggest thing you needed to worry about was whose “top 8” you were in, but now there are real issues users face since more and more organizations look at a potential applicant’s social media during the hiring process.

As the Communications Specialist at PUC, I’ve gone from a casual MySpace user to having every kind of social media you can think of, so let’s talk about some do’s and don’ts for social media as you begin your college career and start preparing for the real world.

Don’t—get into arguments in the comment sections! It’s great (preferable in fact) to have an opinion, but always try to keep things civil.

Do—engage brands. Reach out to them professionally with complaints, accolades or suggestions.

Don’t—send mass invites to your friends to play FarmVille or Candy Crush!

Do—change your privacy settings to require your approval before you can be tagged in anything.

Don’t—post negative things about classmates, teachers or co-workers.

Do—avoid politically charged topics where conversations can easily escalate.

Don’t—be a social media bully.

Do—be smart about what photos you post.

Do—treat your own social media presence like a personal brand, as if your college and future employer are your customers. Double-check your posts for things as simple as grammar and spelling errors.

Do—follow PUC’s social media accounts for real-time information, and check out our social media directory to see what clubs and departments on-campus have a social media presence. Here’s a list of the College’s official accounts:

Pioneer Pete:

The Bay Area Has My Heart, Here’s Why

Since I’ve lived in the Bay Area my entire life, picking just five favorite places was really hard! It was like Sophie’s Choice in my office today. So give me a little leeway if I sneak a couple extra!

The Hook—I absolutely love the beach, especially Northern California beaches. I love throwing on flip-flops and a hoodie, grabbing some tacos from Taqueria Vallarta or coffee from Verve Coffee and heading to The Hook, which is actually my all time favorite place in the world! Santa Cruz is a sizable drive from campus (2.5 hours) but my roommate and I made the trek numerous weekends for some much needed beach therapy.

The Hook

If you’re not into driving that long don’t fret! There are beaches just up the coast that are much closer, (take a look at Brennan Puiia’s “The Places I Have Come to Love the Most” post for some suggestions). A popular PUC pick is Goat Rock (about 1.5 hours from campus).

SAP Center— Better known as the Shark Tank to those sports obsessed folk like myself. “The Tank” is home ice for the San Jose Sharks. Hockey holds a huge place in my heart, though I don’t know why since I spend every game anxiety ridden and pulling my hair out. But multiple times a season my friends and I gear up and scream our heads off as the players skate through the glowing, smoking shark head. Win or lose, those are some of my best memories.


But sports aren’t my only interest! If you’re like and me you love music, the beauty of the SAP Center is there’s always something different going on. Hockey season or not, the SAP Center hosts countless concerts and sporting events from charity tennis matches to concerts from headliners like Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Queen and many more!

AT&T Park—Working my way closer to campus we hit AT&T Park. Nestled in the kayak laced McCovey Cove sits the home of the TWO TIME WORLD CHAMPION SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS! My one true love is and always will be baseball. I get a smile on my face the moment I walk though the gates. Disneyland has been dubbed the happiest place on earth, but to me, nothing beats the sights and sounds found at this ballpark.


Not a Giants fan or even a big baseball fan? It’s still worth a visit! AT&T Park is listed as one of the top ranked parks in the country for more reasons than two World Series in the last few years. The crazy fans in costumes, the amazing food and the beauty of an ocean backdrop make AT&T Park a must see at least once! Oh, and Buster Posey—Buster makes everything better.

Sogni Di Dolci—I like to joke that I love food more than I love sports, and I love sports more than most people, so it’s a good thing I now call the Napa Valley home. You’ll hear a lot of people talk about the amazing eateries up and down the valley and they are not lying to you! It’s impossible to pick just one, however, I find myself at Sogni Di Dolci almost once a week, either grabbing gelato and people watching on their outside patio or having a meal with some friends and watching a game. This European/Italian-inspired bistro with an espresso bar and gelateria is right on Main Street in the quaint town of St. Helena, a short 10 minute drive from campus. They pride themselves, as do most places in the valley, on using only the freshest local ingredients and their food doesn’t disappoint.

Napa Valley Roasting Company—As a student, or a staff writer for a college admissions blog, finding the perfect study and writing spot is a must. Some like it quiet, some like it loud. I need a bizarre mixture of both. My perfect spot and one of my favorite places in the area is the Napa Valley Roasting Company, or the RoCo, as it’s warmly referred to. The RoCo offers great coffee and good pastries accompanied by a nice, friendly atmosphere and free Wi-Fi! Every time I stop in, I always see at least one PUC student camped out studying with their books and laptop, which always makes me a tad nostalgic.


As corny as it sounds, the places you go and people you meet in college will stay with you forever, so during your stay at PUC I implore you to visit my favorite places in the area at least once, but even more so, to find your own!

Choose Your Own PUC Adventure: Be a Volunteer Firefighter

Growing up a fire captain’s daughter, I spent my fair share of time in a fire station, so the infamous air raid siren at PUC that blasts everyday at noon wasn’t anything new or startling to me when starting school. Unlike my fellow classmates, who covered their ears and quickly looked around worried, I didn’t even notice it. I had never lived less than five miles from a fire station, so the siren was a strange comfort to me being away from home for the first time.

So imagine my reaction when later that year, the alarm went off while I was sitting in my English class, unfazed. Wrong! As one of my classmates jumped up from his desk, letting his chair crash behind him as he bolted out the door and down the hall, I was shocked. It wasn’t until that moment I realized a large percentage of the Angwin Volunteer Fire Department was made up of students. The thought never crossed my mind, since I was pretty sure you needed to be an adult to run into a burning building to save a life—and there was the epiphany: this was college, we were adults!

Having the ability to volunteer at the Angwin fire station is something pretty unique about PUC. This week I sat down with J.R. Rogers, Director of Recruitment at PUC, who has volunteered with the AVFD for over 11 years. He serves as Captain in command of the Truck Company and also Officer in Charge of Fleet and Logistics. I asked him a few questions about being a member of the fire department and how it helped change his life and his time at PUC.

Q: Why should someone join the fire department?

A: It’s a great way to serve the community around you and to expand your skill base. You get a lot of hands on training both in the fire and medical world that you get to use to help others. These skills will serve you for the rest of your life. It’s a pretty powerful thing to be able to help those in quite possibly some of the worst situations and time of need.

Angwin Fire collage 1

Q: What skills will I learn if I join?

A: The Angwin Fire is an all hazard and all risk department, which means we respond to everything. We teach you how to work with and mitigate situations involving fire, hazardous materials, vehicle accidents, plane crashes, water emergencies, and medical emergencies. Many of these skills are life skills you can put into use when things like this happen in your personal life as well.

Q: Is it hard to volunteer and go to school?

A: Not at all. In fact, over half the department is PUC students. You are a volunteer, which means we ask that you come whenever possible, but understand if you are unable to respond. You’re given a pager and when it goes off you respond to the station. Most teachers at PUC are fine with you leaving class for a call. At the beginning of each quarter, I would go up to each of my teachers at the first class and let them know I was a member of the fire department. I asked if it was okay if I left for calls and that I wouldn’t leave during quizzes, presentations, or tests. I think I only had one teacher that preferred I didn’t.

Q: How do I join the fire department?

A: If you go to, you will find the application and instructions on other documents needed and you can bring them to the firehouse in person (you’re guaranteed to find us there the 1st and 3rd Monday nights from 7-10 pm) or mail it to the PO Box listed on the application letter.

Q: How many hours per week does volunteering take up?

A: It varies. We have a three hour drill every other Monday and trainings as assigned by your company officer, in addition to the calls you respond to. A typical medical aid, which is the majority of what we respond to, takes about an hour. The fire academy we put you through is every Wednesday, with some Mondays and Sundays, for six months.

Q: Should I join the department even if I’m not interested in a degree in Emergency Services?

A: Volunteering with the fire department is something you want to be passionate about doing. If it’s something you don’t believe in, it’s a lot of work and personal risk and being a firefighter isn’t a title that you get, it’s one you earn. The medical side is something we do often and has varying degrees of certification but everyone is trained in at least first aid.

Q: What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned as a volunteer?

A: I have really learned so much I can’t pick just one. Leadership, accountability, resourcefulness, and being a team player are just a few things I’ve learned that have played into my everyday life. Other useful skills like fire knowledge, medical skills, and hazarding identification that also find their way into my days. You really see the world with new eyes.

Angwin Fire collage 2

Q: Do you remember your first call?

A: Definitely. It was a wildland fire in Pope Valley on Barnett Road the day after I graduated. I was the only one from my class that made it to the call. We worked for about six hours cutting hand line alongside a bulldozer to contain the fire. Just as we were getting the fire encircled, it created its own weather system and it began to hail and then rain, which ultimately helped us. There are a lot more stories along with that single incident but I learned a lot on my first call.

Q: Will I be able to drive the fire truck?

A: If you’re on the department long enough and you put forth the effort and time to learn your job as a firefighter, and then you train to become an operator – yes, you can eventually drive a fire engine or truck. You have to learn your first job and do it well to be able to take on a second.

As you may have heard in the news recently, there were several large fires in the Napa Valley and surrounding areas. Thankfully, CalFire and many other departments from around the state were able to contain and extinguish them, and we’re incredibly proud to say our very own Angwin Volunteer Fire Department was part of those efforts!

It’s Okay to be Undecided

“If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up by the time you’re 12, you’ll never finish college in time!” said no one ever.

Actually that’s not true – a lot of people have probably said that. Many people, maybe even some of you, think you HAVE to have everything planned out long before you begin your undergraduate career. Well I’m here to tell you, “Pump the brakes!” There’s no need to rush! For those of you who have known what you wanted to do since you were in diapers, awesome! But for those who feel a little lost, welcome to college! You’ll find your way and the Enrollment office at PUC is here to help.

For me, throughout high school I was the girl with the plan – physical therapy, specifically sports medicine. That’s all I wanted to do and I was convinced I would be perfect at it. I took a series of personality and career tests my senior year and discovered something very obvious: I was good at communicating (and something I learned my junior year, not good at Chemistry).

Now, cut to the first day of freshman year at PUC to a newly declared Communication major. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and within the first quarter I apprehensively made the decision to switch to being undeclared and you know what? I wasn’t alone. Research shows up to 50 percent of college students change their major at least once, and some change it several times. For the next year and a half, I made up my mind and changed it quite a few times, all the while smartly taking classes in many areas from different departments. The beauty of PUC being a liberal arts college is you will need to take classes in different subjects to fulfill your GE class requirements (You can read more about those in our recent “What on Earth are General Education Requirements?!” post). This is the perfect way to try something new while learning about your strengths.

As it would turn out, I would find my way back to the Communication Department a couple quarters later and fall in love with Public Relations, and I never would have discovered that had I not been open minded.

If you’re struggling to see where your future is headed, be smarter than I was! Don’t wander through your first year of college without some kind of plan. PUC comes fully equipped with a Career & Counseling Center at your disposal. You’ll have access to multiple personality tests, interest surveys and Laura Gore, our Career Counselor, will happily give you one-on-one career counseling.

While it’s on your mind, why not spend a few minutes taking this short career test to get a few new ideas about what majors might be a good fit for you! We found it surprisingly insightful. Be more informed before scheduling an appointment with Laura in the fall! Check it out at

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Pacific Union College

Chances are, you already know some facts about Pacific Union College. Yes, we were ranked the “Most Beautiful College” by Newsweek in 2012. And yes, our student/teacher ratio is a remarkable 13 to 1. But what about lesser-known trivia and traditions? Here are 10 things about PUC that you probably didn’t know, and you’ll be smarter for knowing.

1. Please Remain Calm…

It’s not uncommon to find new students ducking for cover during the first few days of school, specifically on weekdays at noon. They’re just acclimating to the air raid siren that is a regular occurrence on campus. Fortunately, it doesn’t have anything to do with natural disasters or World War II invasions. It’s simply PUC’s way of letting you know it’s lunchtime! The local emergency services use it as well, as a way to let the volunteers know that they’re needed. So it’s sort of like a dinner bell/bat signal.

2. We’re Old School

PUC was founded in 1882; however it wasn’t always in Angwin. Originally PUC was located about an hour away in Healdsburg and called Healdsburg College. It wasn’t until 1909 that the college moved to Angwin and was renamed Pacific Union College. We don’t have anything funny to tell you about this…

3. We’re #1!

According to College Prowler, PUC has the number one rated intramurals program in the country! Intramurals is one of the fastest ways to get involved and meet new people while staying fit. We offer flag football, basketball, volleyball, softball, as well as some less traditional options like pickleball, flag football, and kickball. We’ve even gone as far as to play donkey basketball!


4. Everybody’s Workin’ for the Weekend

As of October 2013, there were 1,326 active student jobs on campus filled by 833 unique students, since some have more than one job. That’s a little over half of our entire student body that is currently working on campus. But you know what they say – Mo money, mo problems.

5. Corn or Flour?

We aren’t sure exactly how it started, but it’s been a tradition at PUC for many years to throw tortillas in the air during the graduation ceremony. Bring some cheese and make a quesadilla while you wait!


6. Let Freedom Ring

When the school moved to Angwin in 1909, they made sure to bring a few things with them. Among the precious school heirlooms was the original college bell, and legend has it that the bell is the nephew of the famous Liberty Bell. It’s a tradition for seniors to ring the bell when they finish their last final. That’s why, during finals week, you will frequently hear the old Healdsburg Bell ringing throughout the day (along with the soft weeping of students who still have more finals left).

7. We’re Growing!

We started the 2013-2014 school year with the highest enrollment we’ve had in 24 years, which is pretty great! We have 1,678 awesome students on our campus this year and couldn’t be happier.

8. Money, Money, Money

For the 2013-2014 school year, PUC awarded students over $36 million in financial aid; $14 million of that amount was given in institutional scholarships, grants, and discounts. Most ATMs hold around $20,000, so that’s like 1,800 ATMs! We told you this blog would teach you some amazing things.

9. Darth Rieger

Bearing a striking resemblance to Darth Vader’s helmet, the Rieger organ in the PUC Church stands about 50 feet tall and has over 4,700 pipes. It’s one of the biggest mechanical tracker action pipe organs on the west coast, and it’s worth about $1.5 million (roughly a quarter of the cost of an Imperial Star Destroyer).

Organ 1

10. Winter Games

One time a student skied down to the cafeteria. We’d tell you more, but that’s all we know.

So there you have it: 10 things that you never knew you needed to know about PUC. Stay tuned if you ever wondered what’s down in the steam tunnels!