Category Archives: Academics

Biology Program Experience from Isaac Joo

PUC’s biology department has an extensive number of courses that allow students to build their knowledge of biology in and out of the classroom, which prepares them for medical school. With our high acceptance rates to medical and dental schools, our students have been accepted into Loma Linda University, Duke University, Midwestern University, and other leading institutions around the country. 

Isaac Joo is a junior biology pre-medicine student from Portland, Oregon. He chose PUC because of the rich history it has within his family. He always heard great academic success by attending PUC and felt that it was a right fit for him. Isaac loved the campus and had a great first impression with the teachers and staff here. Now being a PUC student himself, he’s been enjoying his time at PUC and finds the biology program amazing because of the professors, just as he heard. Isaac answered some questions for us to learn more about the biology program. 

Why did you choose this program? 

Biology is the study of life, and I selected this program because I felt that it could be very integrative to my profession. 

What do you like about the program?

The biology program is truly amazing because of the professors. They are great at really connecting with the students and are always willing to help. One example that stuck out to me was during COVID. My biology professor wanted us to write a weekly check-in because she was worried about us. This really helped me during the pandemic, and she would always write back with a friendly comment. 

What class have you enjoyed the most, and why? 

I really enjoyed Systems and Physiology because I was able to learn more in-depth about the human body.  

What are some important things you’ve learned from your program? 

I learned to find a good balance between studying and relaxing. Burn-outs are real in college and I had to learn that it is okay to take breaks. 

Why would you recommend this program?

I recommend this program to those who are interested in going in-depth in the study of life and how everything works. 

Can you give any advice to high school students who are interested In pursuing your major? What should they expect or prepare for?

Although this major is very exciting, I would say that you definitely need to put in your hours for studying. Most classes go through extensive information, and some parts can be challenging. However, nothing is impossible, and all the professors want their students to succeed. I would say to never be afraid to ask questions and always go to office hours if you don’t understand something.

Outside of classes, are there any activities or events your program throws during the school year? 

Yes, there are a lot of fun and thrilling activities. The biology club plays movies, throws water balloon fights, and goes on hikes in the back-40! Freshman biology majors also have a personal mentor who can help them settle in. Lastly, the biology club throws a trip to Albion, and that is where you can meet fellow biology classmates and bond with them. 

What is your favorite thing about attending PUC? 

My favorite thing about attending PUC would be my friends and the campus. I made some incredible friends here, and I can see why this place was originally a resort. Whether it be hiking the back-40 or going for a swim in the pool, I found myself really enjoying the moments here. 

Q&A With Katrina Blue, Associate Professor of Theology & Christian Spirituality

PUC’s department of theology offers a greater variety of courses in the general education program than other theology departments. Our faculty has a tremendous gift helping our students think about God, the word, and the world. Through discussions and prayer, students develop and grow in their faith. 

Katrina Blue, Associate Professor of Theology and Christian Spirituality, loves having the opportunity to help students think about their faith and what it means to them personally. To give you more insight into the strong community within this department, Katrina kindly answered some questions for us. 

What is your favorite thing about teaching in your department?

One of the things I enjoy about the PUC Theology Department is that we have a clear mission to equip our students and prepare them for ministry with a strong practical emphasis. It is a tremendous gift to be able to impact someone’s thinking about God, to help them develop and grow in their faith, to open the mind about God, His Word, and the world. I love having the opportunity to help students to think about their faith and what it means to them personally. There is the academic/knowledge aspect of learning new things and also the personal growth aspect: both are important. It’s great to get to work with such committed people who love the Lord. 

What makes your department unique compared to other departments at PUC?

I love the genuine caring spirit amongst my colleagues. Each one is gifted in teaching. They are kind people, courteous, generous, creative and spiritual. We all bring something unique to the table. When we gather to talk, discuss, and pray we are a harmonious group. The Spirit is present. We are able to have vibrant discussions, we listen to each other, and we grow. I cannot speak for other departments as I only know ours, but I do believe that together, we make a great team!

What makes your department at PUC unique compared to the same program at other colleges and universities?

PUC’s Theology Department is unique because we offer both Greek and Hebrew to our majors which is an excellent preparation for the Master of Divinity and gives students a solid basis for understanding God’s Word. We also offer the integrated “Lab church” to students ranging from freshman to seniors. This practical, hands-on experience, integrates majors with our local pastors and lay ministry leaders who are mentoring them for ministry and service.

Can you share a few examples of exciting things alumni from your department are doing?

Many of our students go on to complete the MDiv program at Andrews, which they are very well prepared for by taking our degrees at PUC. Many have become pastors, chaplains, church planters, or work in various ministry fields building the kingdom of God. We are honored to have been a part of their spiritual journey in Christian leadership and ministry.

What’s something your department is well known for? Why do you think that is?

When I attend professional meetings each year with fellow religion and theology faculty from all over the country and world, so many have come over to tell me that they began their career as a teacher/scholar at PUC, and the warm memories they have of our school. They want to know which office I am in, and of course, what courses do I teach? They are surprised at the great variety of courses that we offer in our general education program and for our majors, much more than other religion/theology Depts. Truly, this is a great Department that is known and loved by generations of people who have taught and studied here. Religion faculty at other schools continue to express their appreciation and support for us. We have a solid academic and teaching capacity. Historically, the PUC Theology Dept. is also known for the Des Ford controversy which happened about forty years ago. I have seen a lot of healing take place over this. It was incidental that it happened at PUC with a visiting scholar, it could have happened anywhere.

What’s something a new student can look forward to about joining your department?

Students receive personalized attention. They can learn and grow in our regional context with close interaction with professors and local pastors. That counts for a lot as students are able to make strong connections, and receive excellent training opportunities which have helped launch careers. The church has a great need of young servants of God, women and men. All are called to work in the Father’s vineyard: the world. We also support students who are taking a dual degree or double major. If you do not want to become a pastor, but would like biblical and theological training alongside whatever other professional degree program you want to pursue, we are here to support you also. Whatever your calling in life, adding a theology or religion major can equip you for a life of ministry in whatever field you will end up working in. So many have told me, “Oh, I wish I could study religion/theology,” when in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Why not take the opportunity now while in college?

Visit our website to learn more about the department of theology.

Introducing PUC’s New Business Department Chair, Scott Perryman

Please join us in welcoming PUC’s new faculty member in the Business Administration and Economics Department, Chair Scott Perryman. With only being at PUC for two months, he has seen the tangible passion for students and how many of his students enjoy the family atmosphere on campus. We are blessed to have Scott and his family be a part of our Pioneers family. 

What brought you to PUC? How/Why did you decide to work here?

I came to PUC for two primary reasons: 1) to support the mission of the university and 2) to pursue my passion for teaching and challenging young people to think for themselves and to prepare to meet the demands of their chosen career.

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

I haven’t been here long, so this is a response based upon very limited experience. What struck me the most in my interviews and in my experiences thus far is a tangible passion for students. I think that the pandemic has dampened that a bit, but it really comes out when you interact with faculty and staff. I have also been struck by how many of my students refer to the family atmosphere they enjoy.

Where is your favorite place to eat in the Valley and why?

There are so many really good places that it is hard to choose just one. However, I would say I am most likely to eat at Pizzeria Tra Vigne for lunch or dinner. I also enjoy Gillwoods Café, especially for breakfast or brunch. I have also been pleasantly surprised by the quality of food at the PUC Café.

Where did you attend college?

I attended the University of Texas at Arlington and earned my BBA and concentrated in Management and Marketing. I also earned my MBA at Baylor University and concentrated in Finance.

What is something you do that might be surprising for people to learn?

I have been coaching or leading out in youth athletics programs (ages 4 through high school) for my entire adult life, at this point, more than 25 years. Most of this has been in affiliation with Seventh-day Adventist organizations. I continue to be amazed at how young people grow and compete with consistent, supportive coaching. Spiritual beliefs and convictions do not have to be sacrificed to achieve athletic or academic excellence!

What is one song you’re listening to on repeat lately?

A good Journey, U2, or Faith Hill song always gets my attention. Lately, I have found inspiration in Josh Groban’s rendition of “You Raise Me Up” or almost any song he performs.

What is your dream vacation? 

My dream vacation can be almost anywhere if it includes my wife, Angie, and all our children and their families.

Finish this sentence: On Sunday mornings you can find me … 

Home studying and getting ready for the upcoming week.

A Balance Between Passions: An Interview With A Social Work & Spanish Studies Major, Sarah West 

Sarah West is a double-major student from Beaumont, CA., who will be graduating with a Bachelor in Social Work and a BA emphasis in Spanish Studies. She didn’t plan on taking two majors, but after studying abroad and taking Spanish classes, she was able to be a Spanish major, and she’s glad she did. With her desire to help people, knowing another language will be very beneficial to her future. Sarah generously answered some questions for us to learn more about her programs and how her love for helping people and traveling comes hand-in-hand.

Why did you choose these programs? 

I knew that I wanted to help people, so when I came to PUC, I was one of many Bio-premed majors. However, after a quarter of taking both biology and chemistry at the same time, I knew this wasn’t the path for me. I knew I wanted to help people, and after a quarter of being undeclared and taking Intro to the Family, I knew social work was for me. 

I did not come to PUC thinking that I would be able to graduate with 2 majors. I did come to PUC knowing that I wanted to spend a year abroad in a Spanish-speaking country, and I did. Because of the time I spent abroad, all I had to do was take a handful of classes here to get a Spanish major. So the degree kind of happened, and I am glad it did. 

What do you like about these programs? 

One of the things I like about the social work program is that the courses required will be very useful and applicable in the field. They cover a lot of topics but give you a good foundation to build on during your internship, and eventual job. The professors are also amazing in the social work/psych department. They all have unique experiences and give the best advice. 

I like this Spanish studies program because it really pushes me to use my Spanish. Being a TA in the department has also helped me improve my Spanish a lot. 

Which classes have you enjoyed the most, and why? 

The class I have most enjoyed in social work was Research Design with professor Milmine. This class didn’t feel like work and was just fun to learn. It taught how to create and conduct research, and how impactful research-based practices are. 

I think that the linguistic class I took for Spanish studies was the class I most enjoyed. It was fun to learn about languages, and how what we learned could apply to the language we learned abroad. 

What are some important things you’ve learned from these programs?

The social work program has helped me by opening my eyes to the needs of the world, and how you should never make assumptions. You never really know what someone is going through or what their past consists of.  

The important thing I learned from the Spanish studies program was how beneficial studying abroad is. Most people who end up getting a language major studied abroad, and we all agree that it was the best thing to do. The program that we go abroad with is Adventists Colleges Abroad (ACA), and it is so easy to apply to and to travel with. 

Why would you recommend this program?

I would recommend the social work program if you have the desire to help people, but don’t know how. A BSW is also a degree that you can get a job with right away or do a one-year program to get your master’s. Social work is also a very diverse field, so you can never get bored. 

I would recommend the Spanish studies program if you are interested in learning a new language, or if you are interested in studying abroad. 

Can you give any advice to high school students interested in pursuing one of your majors, or even both? What should they expect or prepare for? 

For social work, I would recommend to a high school student to try and learn something from every class you take. That is because it will help you in class, in internships, and your future. You are going to work with people from all walks of life, who have their own experiences and passions, and if you know a little about it, it will help you. You also never know where you are going to end up, what population you will be working with, or what organization you will work at. So knowing a little bit about a variety of topics will be helpful. 

I would 1000000% recommend going abroad. The ACA program is amazing and makes everything abroad so easy. You learn so much about yourself, about the culture, and the language. There is a lot of culture shock and quirks about the country you go to, but you learn to live with the changes. I always say no one ever regrets going abroad, but people always regret not going. 

Outside of classes, are there any activities or events your program throws during the school year? 

The social work department is small but mighty. There is a booth for the social work club during fall fest that you can help with, Christmas parties, and outreach to the community. 

The World language/communications department does host prevespers, provides snacks during dead week, and really helps push you to practice your language. 

What is your favorite thing about attending PUC? 

One thing I love about PUC is how close you can get with your professors. I went to a public high school, where the student-to-teacher ratio had a huge gap. So, coming here to PUC and being in the social work program, you can really get to know your professors. This is great because it makes me comfortable to go to them for advice if it is academic, professional, or personal. There are also a lot of clubs, and as the president of the Jujitsu club here on campus, there is something for everyone. What I also love about PUC is how much nature is around us. It is beautiful here, and as someone from southern California, I love the change in atmosphere on this holy hill. 

FAQs About PUC Music

By Becky St. Clair

So you’re thinking PUC is the place for you (we think so, too, for the record), and you’ve always really enjoyed music, but you’re not sure what that will look like in college. Good news: We’ve got you covered. Here are answers to a few of the most common questions we get about music at PUC. The bottom line is that we have a place for you–guaranteed–and you’ll be at home here. Promise.

What music ensembles does PUC have?
So glad you asked! Our four regular ensembles are Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Chorale, and Vox Pro Musica (select touring choir). Additionally, the PUC’s String Quartet is pulled from Orchestra members, and they perform off-campus and tour at various times during the school year, sometimes with VPM. 

Do I have to be a music major to be in an ensemble?
Absolutely not! We welcome anyone who wants to participate in collaborative music-making, and we enjoy hosting diverse groups as a result. Not only do we have non-majors playing with us, but we have several community members and occasionally some local professional musicians as well. It’s a wonderful way to connect with people you may not otherwise meet.

Can I be in more than one ensemble?
Of course! None of our ensembles meet at the same time, so as long as the rehearsals fit into your class and work schedule, we encourage you to participate in as many groups as you’d like.

Do I have to audition?
Yes…and no. Wind Ensemble and Chorale require no audition to enroll, you simply register and show up (that last part is very, very important). Orchestra does not require a traditional audition, but our director does like to hear everyone who wants to be in the group, just to get an idea of where they’re at musically when they’re joining for the first time. Vox Pro Musica requires an audition to join.

I’m a nursing major and my schedule can be tricky. Can I still be part of an ensemble?
Absolutely. We have many nursing majors amongst our ensemble ranks, and we totally understand the schedule challenge. We’ll do our best to ensure you can fulfill your clinical duties and still participate in as many rehearsals and performances as possible.

Can I take lessons?
Yes! Music majors are, of course, required to do so, but anyone is welcome to take private lessons to enhance their educational experience. We offer individual lessons on a quarterly basis in a variety of instruments–just ask us!

If joining an ensemble pushes me into overload status, do I have to pay the overload fee?
Nope! Students who go into overload as a result of joining an ensemble (or two or three) get their overload fees waived. All you have to do is talk to the music office manager.

Do I have to be a music major to use the practice rooms?
Not at all! There are several practice rooms in Paulin Hall that are open whenever the building is open, and they are available to anyone, regardless of their major or whether they’re in a PUC ensemble. If you happen to be a piano major, we have some reserved practice rooms with grand pianos you’ll need a key to get access to.

What degrees can I get as a music major?
Great question! We have five options for our music majors to choose from:

  • Bachelor of Science in Music
  • Bachelor of Science in Music: Composition Emphasis
  • Bachelor of Science in Music: Pre-Teacher Training Emphasis
  • Bachelor of Science in Music: Performance
  • Associate of Science in Music

Can I be a double major?
Yes! In fact, many of our students are double majors, often coupling music with a science discipline. Talk to your advisor about this possibility, or make an appointment to talk with the chair of the department of music.

I’m interested in teaching music; is there a way to get experience with that before I graduate?
Yes, there is! Paulin Center for the Arts is a community music program run from the department of music office, and we frequently hire college students as student teachers in this program. (Yes, for pay!) Mention your interest to the department chair or the music office manager to get the conversation going.

Are there any jobs for students in the department of music?
There are always jobs available in the department. From ensemble assistants who help set up and tear down for concerts, to music librarians who organize scores and sheet music, to recording managers who record concerts and process the recordings, to office assistants who work with the office manager, there are plenty of options. Check in at the music office to see what’s available when you get here. Want to be ahead of the game? Email music@puc.edu and ask about possible jobs for next school year. (Pro tip: We love students who get ahead of the game!)

What about scholarships? Are there any specific to music?
Oooh, we knew this question would come up! The answer is yes, we do have scholarships available. Most are awarded during spring quarter for application the following fall, and are based on leadership, academic diligence, and involvement, but there is also one for ensemble members. The Campus Impact Scholarship is a renewable quarterly scholarship awarded each quarter you participate in any of the four major ensembles or String Quartet, for up to $1,000 per year. 

Okay, be honest: How good are the music teachers at PUC?
This is such an easy question, because the answer is a loud and emphatic “VERY.” Our instructors have:

  • Toured with Yo-Yo Ma
  • Been concertmaster at Carnegie Hall
  • Conducted professional symphonies
  • Studied at high-caliber schools such as The Juilliard School, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Indiana University, University of Michigan, and others
  • Won international awards
  • Traveled around the world as soloist, concertmaster, chamber musician, and masterclass instructor

And the best part? Every single one of them cares deeply and personally about each and every student who walks through our doors. They’ll get to know you and will treat you like family even before you arrive–and it’s a forever thing. Once a part of the PUC music community, always a part of the PUC music community. 

We look forward to having you here at PUC, and would be thrilled to have you as part of the department of music–whether that means becoming a music major, joining an ensemble, taking a composition or world music class, or all of the above. 
Still have questions? Give us a shout: 707-965-6201 or music@puc.edu.

Caitlyn Koester

How Music Practice Habits Can Enhance Your Entire Life

By Caitlyn Koester, PUC instructor in piano and harpsichord

With the start of every new year comes anticipation for what’s to come, and the spark of inspiration to fortify, streamline, and enhance one’s personal potential. The annual New Year’s Resolution is the perfect opportunity for us as musicians to apply these principles to our practice routine. The great thing is that the principles behind each of these music-specific tips apply to anyone in any field or area of study. 

I find myself constantly reconsidering and rejiggering my own process and methods in order to continue to improve, and over the years have found some favorite tips and tricks. Here are a few I share time and again with my students, and frequently reintroduce to myself.

  1. Keep a practice journal. As when we were in elementary school and our first music teachers wrote down our assignments, it is useful to have a plan of attack when you sit down to play. For adults, the practice journal provides personal accountability, and the opportunity for both planning and reflection pre- and post-practice. At the end of my time at the instrument I like to take note of what specifically I need to look at tomorrow (down to the measure), and which practice methods I would like to apply to these sections. I also like to look forward to concerts and projects I have approaching in order to plan appropriately and learn my music in an organized fashion. 

Non-music application: Use this method for your lab projects, workout sessions, studying for exams, rehearsing speeches, etc.

  1. Schedule your practice time. As with anything important in our life, it is imperative that we prioritize the activity by dedicating real time on a regular basis. When I block out time to practice in my smartphone’s calendar, I find myself honoring the commitment as I would with any other priority. Plan ahead, block out those hours on your calendar, and check your daily practice off your to-do list!

Non-music application: Schedule solid time for working on an essay, reviewing lab notes, making sure to grab breakfast, calling your mom, spending time outside, etc.

  1. Become an early bird. All too recent are my memories of practicing at Juilliard until midnight… Although this seemed like the perfect solution to fitting in more hours during my busy graduate degree, I now realize that much of my time at the instrument was at less than 100 percent efficiency, energy, and creativity. When we practice in the morning–and better yet, make it the first cognitive activity we engage in upon waking–our mind and our physical alignment are fresh and ready for the task. At this time, we are not weighed down by a day full of conversation, work, physical activity, and distraction. Take this a step further and make practicing the last thing you do before winding down for the evening and the first thing you do upon waking, and you’ll be reinforcing your practice efforts on the daily.

Non-music application: Practice getting up earlier in the morning to finish your assignments, rather than staying up late to cram them in. When studying for an exam, try studying in the evening, going to bed at a reasonable hour, and then rising early to study more, reinforcing what you’re reviewing.

  1. Visual Manifestation. Practice is not only the act of physically playing your instrument. Be sure to visualize yourself performing in preparation for recitals and concerts, whether sitting in the practice room at the instrument or at home with music in hand. Envisioning the atmosphere, what you’ll smell, the temperature, your attire, the time of day, and how you’ll begin are all helpful for your mental preparation and focus. Take this a step further to enhance your expression of a piece of music before you begin playing by envisioning where the music might transport you. What does the place or scene look like / smell like / taste like / feel like? 

Non-music application: Imagine the end result of the final project you’re starting. What message do you want to convey with what you’ve created? When you’re presenting, what will the room look like / smell like / taste like / feel like? Envision your success from the very beginning and it will give you a definite end goal that feels (and is!) attainable.

Photo by Kael Bloom on Unsplash

Coming Back to Life: Preparing for music-making in the fall

By Becky St. Clair

We’re all tired of talking about the pandemic, but…it’s here to stay for a while, and we can’t ignore it. What we can do, however, is focus on coming out the other side of it all, physically, mentally, and spiritually intact. 

Over the last 17 months or so, it’s likely your lifestyle and habits have changed significantly. Whether that means dropping or discovering a hobby, picking up or conquering bad habits, sleeping different hours, or developing a hatred of all things Zoom and an appreciation for well-stocked grocery stores, it’s likely life looks quite different for you in August 2021 than it did in March 2020. 

For many of us who are musicians, this change in lifestyle likely includes a dramatic decrease in the amount of playing or singing we do on a regular basis. Which means that when we talk about “getting back in shape,” we’re not talking about those pounds that mysteriously appeared over the last year and a half and obviously had nothing to do with the vast number of baked goods and stress snacks we were consuming. (#denial)

When we as musicians talk about “getting back in shape” we’re talking chops. For brass and woodwind players this is the embouchure and breath control; for string players, guitarists, and pianists it’s calluses and muscle memory; for vocalists it’s the vocal cords and breath control; for percussionists it’s the forearm muscles, hand-eye coordination, and accuracy. And after a year and a half of not using them, these skills and abilities likely need a bit of a tune-up.

Here’s the good news: 

  1. It’s totally doable to get yourself back in shape in time for fall quarter ensembles and lessons; and
  2. If you haven’t been involved with music yet at PUC, now’s the time to join, because everyone is in the same boat, and music is the life preserver.

So, without further ado, here’s some sage advice and tips from the music faculty at PUC.

Don’t practice. Get together with friends and just play or sing. Do duets or quartets. Play woodwind and brass quintets. Play or sing with an organist or pianist. After all the isolation, playing with friends is a joy. And don’t worry if your ensemble is made up of odd instruments. A flute can play a violin part (and vice-versa). Clarinets, tenor saxes, and trumpets are interchangeable. Lots of music today even has parts in multiple keys so the instrumentation is very flexible. Have some fun and make some music.

Schedule yourself as the special music in church (and then take the music to a retirement home or a hospital or a place where people need to hear some music). Don’t pick anything too hard or too long, just something that you might enjoy playing. A few rehearsals, a performance, and you’ve made a lot of peoples’ lives brighter with your talent, and gotten your fingers and face back in shape. Hey, do this more than once! People want to hear you.

Commit to playing/singing for only 10 minutes several times a week. If things are going well and you want to spend more time, great! But 10 minutes begins to get your muscles back into shape. Your playing/singing muscles are likely out of shape, and just like an athlete, take time to rebuild them so you play/sing without injuring them.

Play with curiosity rather than expectation. Celebrate what still works and give yourself grace for what doesn’t. It may have been a long time since you played or sang. That means the control you used to have with your instrument/voice may not be as accessible as it used to be. It will come back!

Review the basics. Simple scales, hymns, and long notes can be used to remind and re-engage your muscles/embouchure/vocal chords in good habits of intonation, articulation, and control. 

Find a rhythm book or other music book and practice reading the rhythms on a single note. This will make it easier when you start sight reading again. 

And here are some thoughts for once we’re back together in September:

Manage expectations. We must remind ourselves that the instrument is rusty and like going back to exercising after a break, the voice is going to respond similarly. It will take time to get back to our previous level regarding breath, tone, volume control, etc.

Make it about socializing–rebuilding connections and trust. These are two elements that have been in short supply over the last year and a half. Provide plenty of time to socialize and get acquainted or reacquainted. 

Have reasonable goals in terms of skill development and musical artistry. Start with things that can be mastered and grow from there.

Celebrate the ability to make music together again. It is a privilege that others may not fully grasp. 

Give yourself and others time and space to share what you’ve missed and what you hope to gain and revitalize. 

Many of us have really, truly suffered from not being able to be with one another and make music while actually in the same room. It will take time and care for each other to get back into the swing of things, but regardless of how long it has been, celebrate the journey and privilege of making music. Treat it as a gift and give yourself grace. We cannot wait to see you in September!

For information about the department of music, including how to be part of an ensemble (spoiler: it’s easy, and there’s scholarship money involved!), contact us at music@puc.edu or 707-965-6201.

Photo by Kael Bloom on Unsplash

Creating the Perfect Fit: An Interview with a Double Major

By Becky St. Clair

Natalie Fode is a senior piano and nursing double major who grew up right here in St. Helena. With an Associate’s Degree in music (flute performance) and one in nursing already under her belt, she plans to graduate in June 2021 with her Bachelor’s Degrees in both. Natalie plays flute in the PUC Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and when we’re on-campus in person, she works in the department office managing recordings. She currently lives in Yountville with her husband, Jordan.

Why music?
I’ve always been fascinated with music for as long as I can remember. I have a musical family; my grandfather taught choir at various academies, and my grandmothers were/are both very good pianists. My dad is a great musician too, and plays the bass guitar, and my mom also plays the flute. I think this combination made me interested in music from a young age because music was often in the home in some form or another. I ultimately decided to pursue a music degree because I couldn’t imagine my life without it and I wanted to be better able to share my love of it with others, as well as to grow my composition, piano, and flute performance skills. I hope to someday teach lessons and continue writing music throughout my life.

So it surrounded you for most of your life, but do you recall when you first started really noticing it and exploring it for yourself?
My grandma first taught me the basics of piano when I was about four years old, which first awakened my love and fascination for piano. I don’t know where I got the idea of composing, but I remember playing the lap harp when I was about five or six and creating my own music on it. I also remember going around and making up songs (if you could call them that) about everything that happened in my life when I was little. It turns out each of these early interests developed into something that I now know and love and are all a part of me to this day. 

I ended up becoming extremely interested in composition and songwriting as I got older, writing songs from the time I was about 11 and starting my first choral piece at age 14. I have continued to pursue flute, piano, and composition during my time at PUC. Each of these early musical experiences are still a part of my life today as a college student and they will forever be a part of my musical identity.

How has your experience been pursuing both music and nursing simultaneously?
I would say the biggest challenge for me has been finding the time to stay in a creative headspace while also pursuing nursing, which is a different-type-of-difficult degree. I adore composition and wish that I had the time and creative energy to do it more often. Though it hasn’t always been an easy balancing act, I would say that music has been an oasis for me during the difficult times of the nursing program, which, as much as I love nursing, certainly existed.

Nursing majors have crazy schedules; how did you manage that while also being in a music ensemble?
First of all, I would like to mention that I took the first year and a half of my time at PUC to focus primarily on music and attempting to get into the nursing program. That allowed me to finish a lot of my classes for the AS in music degree, but not all. Once the nursing program began for me, the music department professors worked with my crazy clinical schedules and helped me achieve my goals in both nursing and music; I couldn’t have gotten this far if it wasn’t for their graciousness. 

Nursing is, by necessity, a very structured program and so it speaks volumes that the music department has been willing to work around and with that to help me create the perfect fit during my time at PUC. Now, during my two bachelor degrees in nursing and music, the music professors are working with me more than ever due to “core weeks” (weeks one and six each quarter) which are a part of the BS in nursing when I have classes the majority of the day and can’t typically attend normal class periods. They’ve also worked with me through more crazy clinical schedules and have always been so understanding through it all.

I couldn’t be more blessed and grateful with the music department. It’s taken me five years to finish these two degrees, but the incredible experiences, connections, and future opportunities that I’ve gained along the way has made it all worthwhile.

You and Jordan have recorded a few videos performing together; do you have plans to do something more formal with your combined skills? 
Jordan and I both love music. He’s been playing guitar since he was 12 and saxophone since he was nine, and we’ve both been casually singing in choirs and on our own from a young age. We have just recently started exploring who we are as a musical twosome and it’s been a really fun journey. We hope to make it a “thing” in the near future. 

We have a YouTube channel and want to fill it with covers and original songs, and hope to utilize other social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to share as well. We also want to do concerts both locally and across the U.S. as a ministry, once things are a little less “germy” of course. Ha! This is important to us because we both want to share God’s love and the message of righteousness by faith with as many people as possible. We’d love to combine that message with speaking and music in the form of concerts and social media.

What do you enjoy about being part of the music department?
One of my favorite things about the music department is sitting in the office, working and listening to all of the students and ensembles practicing. It’s so inspiring, makes me smile, and it’s fun to hear people progress in their pieces. I also love the family feel of the department. It’s not huge, and so everyone gets to know everyone and there’s a real sense of closeness there that is quite unique. It feels like a home away from home.

How do music and nursing intersect—at least for you?
Music is inherently therapeutic, and so I definitely feel that my knowledge of music can help me provide my future patients with better care in the hospital. I’ve heard stories of nurses singing or performing for patients per their request and I can see that being something I’d be open to since I’m interested in treating the whole person in their healing process. I see it as a connecting point, regardless of where I am located or what I’m doing; music is something that I’ll carry with me everywhere. 

Likewise, I think that the nursing mentality and my nursing skills are things that can benefit me in many different situations. Nursing has helped me to attack my instrument practicing more systematically which has been helpful for me. I also know that it will come in handy if anyone hurts themselves or has something go physically wrong during a rehearsal or lesson. Both music and nursing are focused on connecting with the whole person you are serving at that moment, and because of this they are interchangeable disciplines in many respects when they are done well.

What is your ultimate career goal?
Well…that’s rather ambiguous at the moment, if I’m honest. I am currently hoping to find a nursing job so that I can begin serving my community in whatever capacity is most needed. Eventually, I would love to work on a labor and delivery unit as I’ve always had a passion for obstetrics. This passion was likely spawned by being an aunt to eight kiddos and watching three of those births at various points throughout my childhood, as well as having a sister who worked as a labor and delivery and postpartum nurse for most of her career. It is possible that I would want to pursue a certified nurse midwife/nurse practitioner degree in the future, but that would be many years down the road, if ever; there are no concrete plans in place for that at this point. 

As far as music goes, from home jam-sessions with my husband and family, to writing my own compositions and songs, to teaching lessons or even potentially leading ensembles at the elementary or high-school level, I see myself using my music degree all the time. I would say that the knowledge I gained during my time in my AS and BS in music degrees is even more valuable to me than the degrees themselves in many respects. I’ve learned so much that I will carry with me throughout my life, and though the degree titles are inherently valuable, the information I gleaned while earning them is invaluable.

If you could offer one piece of advice to incoming first-years at PUC, what would it be?
Embrace the changes that inherently come along with your first year in college and to go for the thing that seems audaciously out-there if it’s something that you truly want to pursue. It’s not too late to switch your declared major, not too late to change your mind in pursuit of the desires of your heart. By all means, be smart about it, but whether it means adding, switching, or dropping a degree, if that’s what you think is best for you – do it! And go all-in. 

Also, don’t wait any longer than you have to, because the sooner you make the switch, the more time your professors and advisors will have to work with you. Have those conversations early on, and bounce ideas off people you trust. I switched at the end of my first year, but there’s no “right way” to do it. It’s never too late to make a change. Don’t let your life decide itself for you–you get to hold the reins. Ask questions. Don’t let things just “happen to you” academically. Take an active role in your course planning, picking a major, and the timing, difficulty, and pace of your quarters.

And then, I would say something that seems almost contrary to my previous advice, but it isn’t: Prioritize your health, both mental and physical. Don’t push yourself too hard, it’s not worth it. Don’t hesitate to reach out when something feels off, and take advantage of the resources that PUC has to offer because no amount of hustle is worth your well-being. I pushed myself so hard and I got through it, but looking back I would advise my younger self to prioritize my health more. You’re a human, not a machine, and it’s important to realize that–and the earlier on, the better. 

Most of all, I want to say: You’ve got this! It’s a long road ahead, but if you find a major and future career that you love, and prioritize your well-being so that you can enjoy the journey and the destination, it will all be worth it.

Conquer Your First Month ON Campus 

Your first quarter of college was probably VERY different than you imagined, and for the record, we HATED not having everyone on campus and are thrilled to welcome everyone. Your first month on PUC’s physical campus will likely be a bit of a whirlwind. You’ll be meeting new people, learning new things, and having a new schedule. Here are some tips to help you get on the right track.  

Attend Class

You’re in college to go to classes and learn. Please do yourself a solid and attend class. If you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule early morning classes. If you rather have your evenings free, take classes in the afternoon. Make a schedule that you can work with that won’t make you skip class. 

Stay Organized 

By staying organized in college, you will have a better time conquering your assignments, tests, and other things. The first month of school may be overwhelming for you, so get a planner, use your calendar, just find a way that works for you to stay organized. 

Don’t Forget To Eat 

Please don’t forget to eat! Your health is important and if you don’t eat well, you might have a hard time concentrating. Fight the temptation to snack on junk food and instead indulge in healthier options. It’s a good idea to have water with you at all times. You must stay hydrated! 

Meet With Your Academic Advisor 

You’re going to have a lot of questions regarding your classes and major. Having meetings with your academic advisor will be very helpful to you. They are there to guide you in the right direction and help you out in any way they can. 

Put Yourself Out There 

One of the best things about college is that you get the chance to meet people from all over the world. It’s not always easy putting yourself out there, but during the first month, most students will feel the same way as you. Join clubs, study groups, intramurals, etc. Even if you’re scared, put yourself out there. 

Find Your Quiet Place 

From going to class, eating at the cafeteria, and living in the dorms, you’ll be surrounded by people most of the time. If you need your space and some quiet time, find a spot on campus that lets you have time to yourself. 

Get A Good Night’s Sleep 

Lack of sleep is what causes the most stress, so please make sure you’re getting good sleep every night. There will be nights where you and your friends stay up late studying and getting to know each other, but if you don’t get enough hours of sleep you won’t feel so great the next morning. 

Be True To Yourself 

College is a chance to have a fresh start, but don’t lose sight of your values and beliefs. You’ll be figuring out new things about yourself, but don’t feel that you have to act a certain way or be someone different just to fit in. Be true to yourself and let your light shine to others. 

Take in every moment during your first month on campus. Be open to change, new opportunities, and keep an open mind. Enjoy the beautiful Napa Valley and remember that your PUC family is here for you! 

 

PUC’s Department of Visual Arts Shares the Wealth

Many classes in the department of visual arts require the use of specific, expensive equipment. While PUC is blessed to allow students access to the very best, virtual learning posed a bit of a problem. How would students complete their projects while so far away from the resources they’ve grown accustomed to using? Instructor of film & television production Tim de la Torre and assistant professor of photography Brian Kyle decided to carefully pack-up and ship super-8 film cameras to their students so they were able to complete their projects remotely. 

de la Torre has also personally sent students iMacs from the school’s computer labs, cameras, and filmmaking gear and knows his fellow professors have sent students from photography and printmaking classes packages of tools and equipment to complete their assignments. He says he knows at least one student went so far as to take an entire ceramics wheel home back in March! 

de la Torre speaks for everyone at PUC when he says everything is going to be better once all students are back on campus but for the time being, he and the rest of the department are committed to providing their students with the same level of care and attention they receive in the physical classroom. “We are making this online thing work!” says de la Torre. 

Learn more about the department of visual arts at puc.edu/academics. Our team of admissions counselors can answer any questions you have about these programs, or the other majors the college offers. Call (800) 862-7080, option 2, or email admissions@puc.eduto get connected with a counselor now and start learning about all the options available to you!