Author Archives: jthornburgh

Postcards from the Golden State

Greetings from CA

I could’ve worn flip flops today. They would go with my slacks about as well as pickles go with ice cream, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility for a November day in California. My friends in northern Wisconsin could try it, but they’d probably come back with fewer toes than they woke up with. And that is a wonderful thing about living where we do. The weather is just one of the reasons you might consider coming to California for college (and sticking around when you’re done).

San Francisco

If I were to hop in my car and leave my office at PUC right now, I could be at the beach in an hour and a half. Since my boss is able to see this, I’m not going to. However, I could be in San Francisco just as quickly. Or, I could rediscover how bad I am at winter sports after a three hour drive to Tahoe. The point is, you can find just about anything you’re after in California except for Waffle House… And most of us here would consider that a blessing.

Our location also benefits you when it comes time to look for internships and jobs. Being so close to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley gives you the opportunity to work with heavy hitters like Google, Buzzfeed, Airbnb, and Facebook (among others). It’s a fantastic place to build your networks and cultivate some real-world experience, as well as a great way to set up some roots on the west coast if you’re looking to stay.


Oh, did I mention the money stuff? It pays to stay in California thanks to Cal Grant, which can land you over $8,000 dollars if you attend a four-year college in the Golden State. It’s just something to keep in mind when all those out-of-state colleges start fawning over you and your 4.2 GPA in the spring.

So between the places, the people, the weather, the food, and the scholarships, what more are you looking for in a place to spend your college years? You’d be hard-pressed to find a more diverse and vibrant place to live than California. Take it from someone who travels for three months out of the year… There’s no better place to call home.

Make the Most Out of Your PUC Dorm Experience

Moving into a residence hall for the first time is an adventure. If you’ve never lived in a dorm, it can be a little overwhelming at first. We have guides and informative handouts that help you get ready for the transition, but sometimes it helps to talk to someone who’s actually gone through it. So as a grizzled veteran of residence hall life, I’ve written down a few of the tips that made my time at PUC even better.

Dorm room or oasis? You decide.

Dorm room or oasis? You decide. (Winning Hall)

Drop the Bass (gently)
I don’t particularly care for Mariah Carey’s music. But thanks to the guys who lived above me during my freshman year, I can sing “I Want to Know What Love Is” from memory if the situation calls for it. I think we can be honest in saying there’s going to be a little ambient noise in a building inhabited by a couple hundred people. But I think we can also agree to be considerate. So keep an eye on your speaker output, and just say no to air horns.

Inferno? Infer-Nope.
Like many other culinary enthusiasts, I too enjoy the smell of sizzling veggie meat in the morning. But the smell of sizzling residence hall is significantly less pleasant. For that reason, leave the griddles and toasters at home. The official school policy prohibits any item with an open heating element, but microwaves are still fair game. Each residence hall also has a kitchen with all the appliances you’ll need to cook like a grownup.

McReynolds 1

Feel free to decorate to your heart’s content. (McReynolds Hall)

Don’t Turn Your Roommate Into A Gloom-mate
There’s an art to gracefully sharing a living space with another human being. For example, consider taking out the trash before the banana you threw away a week ago starts to develop a nervous system and basic reasoning skills. That’s common sense (I hope), but there are a lot of less obvious opportunities for habits to cause tension, such as sleep schedules or decorative preferences. It pays to check in with your roommate every now and then to see what’s working and what might be worth changing. And seriously, get that banana to a dumpster.

Get With the Program
Every residence hall has its own rhythm. This includes hall worships, Dorm Olympics, and various other social activities. It can also include when everyone starts to quiet down at night, or when everyone tries to do laundry. Study the ecosystem of whichever residence hall you live in so that you can get the most out of your time. Laundry, for instance, will take you three times longer if you try to do it on Sunday nights along with everyone else in the building. Your RA will be able to tip you off for the small details like that, as well as the bigger events so you can be better involved socially and spiritually during your time at PUC.

Students visit during the annual Dorm Open House. (Andre Hall)

Students visit during the annual Dorm Open House. (Andre Hall)

There’s a whole book to be written about getting the most out of your residence hall, but hopefully this gets you started. If you’re looking for a quick list of things to bring, check out the Residence Hall 101 section from the PUC Start Guide. Being able to live on campus adds incredible depth to the college experience, and as long as you can avoid torching the carpet or single-handedly causing a mold infestation, we can’t wait to help you move in!

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.

My Favorite Places: The Authoritative Edition

By now you’ve heard Dana and Brennan give you their top five(ish) places to spend time around here. And they’re both wonderful people, but I know you’ve been craving another perspective: My perspective. So without further ado, here are my five favorite places around PUC.

1. Napa Riverfront

I’m a free spirit. I like to have options when it comes to my spare time. So when I heard about a place where I could find authentic gelato, mouthwatering tri tip, stage plays in the park, and an opera house within walking distance of each other, I was sold. Even if you’re broke, Napa’s Riverfront is a beautiful place to walk around, whether you’re down by the river or on the lawns by the courthouse. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the mood for grub, culture, or a simple afternoon at the park; the riverfront is the place to be. Feed the geese at your own peril.

2. San Francisco


I may have been born in Los Angeles, and Southern California will always be the best.  But I have to admit that San Francisco is a great place to visit. (Please don’t tell my family.) If you’re a diehard chocolate fan, Ghirardelli Square deserves a pilgrimage. From there, you can walk down to Pier 39 to get food, play some arcade games, and see a bunch of harbor seals tanning on the docks. If I’m itching for a day at the museum, the Exploratorium and the Academy of the Sciences are a blast. And there’s always the Warfield Theater if you’re in the mood to catch a show. In short, San Francisco has something for everyone, and it’s right in our backyard. Catch the BART train into Union Station if you don’t want to hassle with traffic or parking.

3. Albion Retreat and Learning Center


PUC owns a marine research facility up near the Mendocino coast, with cabins lined up along the river. Students are welcome to reserve cabins or camping spots for a weekend. “But Jordan,” you say, “I have virtually no knowledge of tide pools or marine ecosystems. What will I do at a research field station?” Fear not! The Albion Retreat and Learning Center is open to all, even if you can’t tell a turtle from a tortoise. You can take a kayak up the river and see all kinds of wildlife along the way. Downtown Mendocino is a short drive up the road, with dozens of old shops to duck into. The bookstore and the toy shop are mandatory stops for me whenever I’m in town. Or you can just pick a spot on the beach and enjoy the rugged beauty of the Northern California coast. Albion is a bit of a commute at about two and a half hours away from campus, but even the drive is spectacular, since it takes you through the Redwoods and along the cliffs by the sea. If you can spare a weekend, I highly recommend a trip up to our little field station.

4. Himalayan Sherpa Kitchen

I was skeptical when I visited this newer restaurant on Main Street St. Helena, mostly because I fear the unknown and am uncomfortable with change. I’d always thought the Himalayas were a place where people went to get frostbite and have a hard time breathing, not a destination for fine dining but my cultural ignorance was crushed by a stack of buttered naan. I may not be able to pronounce all the dishes I like, but I have yet to be disappointed. It’s an authentic Himalayan experience without the expensive air fare and risk of death from exposure.

5. Cameo Cinema

The Cameo Cinema is tucked between the storefronts of Main Street, Saint Helena. It’s easy to miss in passing but I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve spent the afternoon at this 140-seat movie theater. They play all the hits, and they also show a lot of cool movies you might not see at the franchised theaters. There was one week during my senior year when we saw The Avengers, and then followed it up with an award-winning independent film the next day. After all the years I’ve been up here, the Cameo is still my go-to place to catch a movie.

There’s more stuff do around here than you could ever hope to accomplish in four years, but these are the five places I keep coming back to above all the others. I’m sure you’ll develop your own list of favorite places after visiting PUC and the beautiful Napa Valley.

(P)Raise the Roof

I love the student involvement in the worship services at PUC. It’s one of the ways that makes us spiritually authentic. I found a way to get involved with praise music since I play bass guitar (otherwise known as the stringed instrument you can’t use to get banquet dates in high school). I had been at PUC for a grand total of two months before someone found out I played, and asked me to help out one weekend at church.

I was surprised, since I figured you had to prove your worth or fill out a mountain of paperwork before you were asked to play up front. I was also surprised because I played with all the grace of a panicked rhinoceros, and they still wanted me to help. I wasn’t expecting it to be so accessible, but it was. And for  the next four years, I had many more opportunities to express my spirituality through music.

You don’t have to be Chris Martin to play in the praise band here. If you have a gift, PUC allows you to put it to use. I’ve seen groups with violins, harps, bongos, or harmonicas. I’ve seen people who’ve played their instrument for nine years playing next to people who’ve played theirs for nine months.

Praise Band

That’s me on the right playing like a panicked rhinoceros.

It’s awesome to see different groups up front every time. Between vespers, church services, the Week of Prayer events, and the many other spiritual get-togethers, we’re always looking for people willing to use their talents. That means you don’t have the same group recycling the same songs every time you go to worship.

If it seems like I’m gushing, it’s because music put me in touch with God in a profound way during my time at PUC. Whether I was playing or being led by someone else, the music always had a unique way of bringing my world back into perspective.

If you’re a musician, and you’re interested in being a part of a spiritually authentic campus, you can talk to the Student Association Religious Vice President Josue Hernandez about getting involved. Stop by his office in the Campus Center. Or you might just introduce yourself to the groups you see playing each week. It never hurts to make new friends. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to take a little ownership of your worship experience. So bring your guitar, your drums, or your didgeridoo, and put your gifts to good use when you get here in September!

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

What’s a “REVO”?

I remember when someone first mentioned REVO to me during my first year at PUC. I had no idea what it was, and it didn’t help that they were terrible at explaining. Was it a yard sale, a concert, or a fashion show? And why did people keep mentioning veggie corn dogs? I ended up finding out that REVO is all of that and more.

These diverse activities come together in one night to make a positive difference in the world. Kind of like the Justice League of charity events. Every year, REVO raises money and donates it to a specific project. This year, the funds went to Project Worku which funds education for children in Ethiopia.


The Stuff Sale is one of the ways people can get involved. Anyone can donate things that they aren’t using anymore, so you’ll see clothes, electronics, and the occasional novelty item from the 80’s. With the amount of stuff people make, donate, or dig up to sell for the day you can wind up finding some really cool stuff. One year, I even found an original Gameboy. You never know what you’re going to see. And the beauty of it is that it’s all going to a good cause. REVO is a great example of a Christian community getting together to do something good in a way that’s fun and inclusive. Oh, and there’s
great food too! REVO always has the best veggie corn dogs this side of the Veggie-Mississippi.

Once you’ve bought your stuff and loaded up on food, you have the concert and fashion show to look forward to. And this year was on point. Some of the best student bands were there to bring you everything from the Earth Wind and Fire, to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We also got to hear some awesome original pieces too, which I spent a week trying to find bootleg recordings of to put on my iPhone.


Now I have to be honest and say that I’m not the world’s most fashion-forward person. I was still mixing my plaids with stripes up until junior year of high school… But I still love the fashion show. Want to see what a clothing line based off of the old school Pokemon cartoon looks like? REVO’s got it. Ever watch Disney’s Up and wish you had a dress made out of bright balloons? REVO has you covered. Every year, teams of student designers get together to make their own clothing collections. It’s all very high-class.

Between the music, the open air market, and the runway show, you get a really special evening. And you get to help make a difference in people’s lives while you’re at it. So come to REVO next spring! Seriously, where else are you going to find a corn dog that helps fund someone’s education on the other side of the world?