Category Archives: My PUC Story

Get To Know Assistant Professor of Theology Laura Wibberding 

Laura Wibberding has been teaching at PUC for the last five years. When she first visited PUC, she loved the campus and shared, “As an Oregon native, I thought there was too much sun =)” Teaching at PUC has been one of the most meaningful jobs for Laura. She loves getting to know the students and learning about the history of our college. We’re glad to have Laura at PUC and see our students enjoy her classes. 

How long have you worked at PUC? 

I’ve worked at PUC for about 5-years now, although most of that time I was an adjunct. This year I started as a regular faculty. I’ve enjoyed growing into my relationship with PUC, learning more about the college and the students as I do. 

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

Our family moved here in 2017 when my husband started teaching and knew I wanted to be a part of this community. Honestly, teaching at PUC is one of the most meaningful jobs I could imagine.

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

All the Pioneers, of course! Actually, both kinds. I love getting to know students. You guys are all insightful and creative. And I love Adventist history, so those Pioneers make me happy, too. There’s a story behind every building name on campus and a lot of the street names, too. I love being part of it. I also love that we don’t just inherit a legacy- we choose how we want to direct the future. 

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

I’m actually not the most adventurous with eating out. We discovered our kids like Pizzeria Tra Vigne and often go there. But my favorite place to eat is my own kitchen.  

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

I used to use my church history degree to create drama programs for our churches. I have tubs of Renaissance-era costumes and props I made for those, and I keep daydreaming about pulling them out again. Maybe if life slows down a little, I’ll get to that! 

What song are you listening to on repeat lately? 

The one I can’t get out of my head is “Surface Pressure” from Encanto.  

Where is your dream vacation?  

I love old architecture and art and especially ruins. I picked Rome for our 20th-anniversary trip, and what I’d love to do next is see Spain or Greece. 

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

Doing laundry. Sunday is for all the work I couldn’t get to during the week, but it’s also family movie night with the kids, so there’s balance. 

Pioneer Profile: Nathan Hiss 

Nathan Hiss is a junior biology student from Orinda, CA., and represents PUC’s Men’s Cross Country team. With a background in cross country in high school, he joined the team his sophomore year and enjoys every part of it. He answered a few questions for us to share a bit of what it’s like being a student-athlete and playing for PUC. 

What drew you to PUC athletics over another college? 

I didn’t attend PUC with the initial intention of joining the XC team but rather joined it my sophomore year! I ran XC in high school and thought it would be a good idea running again.

Walk us through a typical team practice. 

Usually, I would wake up at around 5:45 in the morning, throw on some shorts and head down to the track. Coach Muhic would then walk us through what our practice was going to look like, and we would either go on a long run or do a speed workout! Then in the evening after classes and labs, I would go on another run totaling 5-10 miles a day!

What is your favorite part about being part of your team? 

Team runs are my favorite part because my teammates always motivate me to go faster and longer!

How do you balance your time between school and sports? 

Since practice is in the morning it works out really well! After practice, I study before classes then attend those classes and labs, then study some more, and go on another run. I found a good balance from removing TV, YouTube, clash of clans from my day.  

What advice do you have for students who are interested in being a student-athlete? 

Do it! It’s a great way to make new friends and keep yourself healthy. 

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

Team dinners are my favorite.

Do you have a favorite athlete? If so, who and why? 

I looked up to Michael Phelps because in addition to running I was on the club and high school swimming for most of my life. 

What are other things you are passionate about? 

I am really passionate about hiking, tennis, gardening, volunteering, fishing, and Bobby, my gorilla figure!

What are you most looking forward to this school year? 

I am really looking forward to trying all the restaurants in Calistoga. I already got through St. Helena and decided Farmstead or Goose and Gander are the best there. So I am looking forward to seeing what Calistoga has to offer!

Alumni Profile: Brenda Mohr, Serving Through Music

Brenda Mohr graduated with Music Education in 1985, and was the first organ student to present her senior recital on the mighty Rieger Organ. She loved PUC because of the beautiful location, spiritual environment, caring professors, and the wonderful people who became lifelong friends. She is now the Director of Choirs at Loma Linda University Church and loves serving through music ministry. We are grateful for the time Brenda gave us to share about her time at PUC and working at LLUC. 

You were the first organ student to present your senior recital on the mighty Rieger Organ. What was that like for you? 

I felt very proud! It was such a thrill to play the mighty Rieger! I’m grateful to my organ teacher, Dr. Del Case, for all the opportunities he gave me to play the organ for church services, accompaniment for choir and brass and my junior and senior recitals. 

What did you enjoy the most about your time at PUC?

Weekly trips to Giugni’s in St. Helena, dorm life, and time spent with friends attending Friday night vespers; and Sabbath morning worship services.

Tell us about being the Director of Choirs at Loma Linda University Church. What do you enjoy most about what you do? 

Being the Director of Choirs at the Loma Linda University Church is an honor. I love serving God’s people through music ministry in a nurturing and thriving work environment. I get to collaborate with a lot of extremely talented musicians who have a heart for worship. The LLUC Music Department staff are a joy to work with. Each person on our team are professional musicians; who strive for musical excellence week after week. I am truly blessed to be a part of the LLUC Staff.

How did your time at PUC help prepare you for your career? 

My student teaching experience at Napa High School was the most pivotal experience in my undergrad studies at PUC that helped prepare me for a career in teaching music.

What are your hobbies? 

I enjoy spending time with family and friends. Also camping, hiking, biking and travel adventures. 

What advice can you share with our students? 

Keep Jesus as your constant companion. He delights to do more for you than you can ask or imagine. 

How I Got Here: One faculty member’s journey with music

By Chantel Blackburn

As I write this, I am only 8 days away from my debut on the soprano saxophone at this quarter’s Christmas on the Hill Candlelight Concert. It’s an instrument I never touched before November and have only played a handful of times. My “first” instrument (other than my voice – my mom has said that my brother and I were “screamers” as children) was the piano. I took lessons for two years until my parents finally let me quit. “You’ll regret it,” they told me; I did not.

The last recital piece I prepared was Lady Allyson’s Minuet. I don’t remember if I even performed it but what I remember is that I only wanted to practice the piece, not the exercises I was assigned by my teacher. I much preferred playing a handful of notes at a time with our chime and handbell choir to the piano.

In the early grades we also played recorders and being in a musical household, not only did we have our own sopranos, we also had an alto that I was able to play with my class. My teacher told me that the fingerings of the alto were similar to clarinet so that made for a natural transition when I started band in fifth grade. I played the clarinet until the end of my junior year in high school when I started to get more serious about it.

I was eager to take over as first chair of the wind ensemble during my senior year; I was spending time in the practice room, and starting to take lessons from my band teacher. As the year progressed, however, I noticed I was having trouble moving my fingers when my hands got cold and I couldn’t maintain my embouchure for substantial lengths of time. There were other, seemingly unrelated symptoms too: drooping eyelids, double vision, dragging feet, and weakness in my extremities. By that summer I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that causes weakness in the voluntary muscle groups.

With my muscles not cooperating and trying to figure out a treatment plan to keep my condition stable, I only picked up the clarinet one or two times over the next decade or so. I spent my senior year of high school singing alto in a quartet and the select touring group, sang one quarter in the women’s chorus in college, and near the end of my time in graduate school helped prompt the formation of a short-lived church choir. My instrumental amusement came from playing hymns on Sabbath afternoons with my recorders and improving on the guitar, which ultimately helped me pick up basic chords on the piano.

When I arrived at PUC and heard the wind ensemble play Variations on a Korean Folk Song at their Winter concert that year, I was overwhelmed by distant memories of playing that very piece in high school and just had to join. I hadn’t played for so long, my clarinet case had dead bugs inside that I had to vacuum out. I tried to play on 10-year-old reeds and with a busted ligature. It was a disaster. But I was participating in music with my clarinet again and it was wonderful.

Since then, my skill has grown. As we continued graduating talented clarinetists in the chairs above me, I suddenly found myself taking on more responsibility and leadership in the section. I still have doubts in my abilities every time a new student plays their scales to warm up and struggle with physical limitations but eventually, I found myself joining the orchestra and playing Beethoven’s 5th Symphony wondering how I ended up there.

At PUC I’ve had the opportunity to perform as Snoopy in a production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, sing with Chorale and Vox Pro Musica, play the A clarinet in Orchestra, tour with our music groups to southern California, and attempt a couple tunes on the Eb clarinet with PUC Wind Ensemble. I enjoy how music enriches my life and takes my mind off the daily grind one rehearsal at a time.

I’m no professional and I don’t have the discipline (or the physical ability) to be one, but in my own amateurish wanderings, music has taken me places I never thought possible. The next step in my journey is on the soprano saxophone and I look forward to seeing where this goes.

Editor’s Note: Join us as we celebrate the sacred sounds of Christmas in the 2021 Christmas on the Hill Candlelight Concert. This concert is presented twice: Friday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 11, at 4 p.m., both in the PUC Church. Admission is free.

Chantel Blackburn is professor of mathematics at Pacific Union College.

Caleb Pudewell, Graphic Design Major

If you love the posters pictured as much as we do, let us introduce you to the artist who designed them! Caleb is a senior graphic design student in PUC’s accredited department of visual arts, as well as a design intern in our Marketing & Communication office. His illustration work is inspired by his passion for nature and the outdoors and when he graduates this June, Caleb plans to pursue a career with an outdoor company or creative agency in the Pacific Northwest. With his portfolio of projects that also includes identity branding, publication, and clothing design, we are confident he’ll be another PUC success story!

To see more of Caleb’s work, visit behance.net/calebpudewell.

Faces of PUC: Introducing PUC’s Newest Professor of Mathematics & Data Science, Nathaniel Adu

Give a warm welcome to Nathaniel Adu. He has only been teaching at PUC for three months, but has already experienced the warmth of our beautiful community and is happy to be a part of our Pioneers family. Being at PUC has given Nathaniel a feeling of how heaven is going to be like with the welcome and belonging he feels here. 

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

I have heard about PUC through a friend whose brother attended PUC. He always spoke highly of the school. I decided to work here mostly because of the sense of community living. The PUC family is extremely welcoming and I have experienced the warmness from day one. I also wanted to work in a place where I can grow not only physically but spiritually. PUC is one of those few places and I am glad to be part of that community. 

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

I feel welcomed and belonging. I love the diversity. It gives me a feeling of how heaven is going to be like. People of all ethnicities living together in harmony.

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

I love to cook and play soccer.

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

Day by Day SDAH 532

Favorite movie to watch? 

Coming to America by Eddie Murphy

Who is someone you admire and why? 

The late Nelson Mandela. He didn’t let what happened to him in the past affect him as a leader of his country. He was able to forgive the people who put him in jail and also put measures in place to reconcile his country when they needed it most. He was a symbol for peace and a great leader. His humility is what I like about him most.

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

Playing soccer with my friends. 

Get To Know Your Student Association

Welcome to a new year at PUC! We are so excited to get to know each and every Pioneer! This year we have a great group of student leaders who have been working hard to make sure this is the best year yet. Let’s take a minute to meet them and when you see them around campus, don’t hesitate to say hello!

thumbnail_image001Lewis Govea – President 

“There is nothing I want more than to reunite with my PUC family, but I know everything is going to be different when all this is over. The incoming SA Team has the monumental task of rebuilding the PUC Family following this forced separation, but that’s exactly what we signed up for. This pandemic has strained our support systems and left us feeling alone, but I want everyone to know that SA will be waiting for you all with open arms and hearts full of love when we are back together again. We see our reunion as something to be excited for and we are ready to make PUC feel like home again. SA misses everyone and can’t wait to be back home on the hill. We love you all!”

thumbnail_Image-2Aileen Kurts – VP 

“I’m so excited to be a part of SA because I know the potential Student Senate has for making great changes at PUC. I’m ready to lead the Senate to make PUC feel like home for all students. I’m hoping to create a mentorship program at PUC so freshmen have some more guidance in what they’re doing and so they know people who have accomplished what they dream of. Senate is a powerful tool that I’m hoping every student learns about and utilizes so that their experience at PUC is the best they can have because PUC is not just a school but a place to create a family and call home.”

thumbnail_11B82805-844F-4B31-8C46-5B54A7F03BCDSebastian Anderson – PR/Marketing VP

“I’m thrilled to have another opportunity to be a leader and representative of the student body. I hope to use the PR & Marketing position to bring the whole campus closer together while helping campus culture and energy flourish. I want to do everything in my power to make sure everyone feels included, involved, and invited to everything the SA team puts together.”

thumbnail_ImageGrace Jong – Social VP 

“Hey, guys! I can’t wait for all the exciting new adventures that God has planned for PUC. This upcoming year, I have so many events planned in order to connect the students together. Stay tuned always remember to give love and give grace :)”

thumbnail_Image-1Keren Castro – Religious VP 

I’m really excited to be part of SA and bringing new things to PUC. My biggest goal for next year is really to bring more opportunities for the students to seek a more personal and deeper relationship with God while creating a stronger community through it. This past year, I was on Noah’s RVP team and we brought together Afterglow and we’ve seen amazing outcomes from it. So now I only want to expand from that.”

thumbnail_IMG-20190831-WA0008Miriam YU – Financial VP 

“I’m excited to meet everyone, especially the new SA team, real soon and also to bond with the student body. As FVP I look forward to growing in this position and meeting all the accounting goals.”

thumbnail_ADC_0034Adam Adreveno – Video Producer 

“I look forward to making quality videos for everyone to engage with and enjoy!”

Faces of PUC: Karina Saavedra 

Karina Saavedra is a nursing student from American Canyon. She is a driven student who aspires to have a career that will always challenge her and feels like nursing is a perfect choice. Karina also enjoys doing calligraphy and spending time with her friends during her free time. 

 What is your dream job? 

My dream job is to one day be a CRNA: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. I love to challenge myself, and I have always aspired to have a career that will constantly challenge myself every day. I want to care for and save my patients’ lives. I want to be an advocate for them. I love working with people and giving them a reason to see another day! 

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

As silly as it may sound I wanted to work at Target. As a kid, I was obsessed with the idea of being a cashier at Target.  

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

The Pioneers family is naturally very welcoming and loving—I love this the most about being a part of the Pioneers family. From the moment I arrived on campus, I instantly felt at home with the numerous people that made me feel like I had a new family.  

 Where is your favorite place in the world? 

My favorite place in the world is the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand. I went island hopping on all six islands of Phi Phi, and it was the most beautiful site in the world. I love nature as well as being in the water. I was able to swim in the ocean and the lagoons of various islands.  

What show are you bingeing these days? 

I am currently bingeing on Avatar. I love the show so much, this is my second time watching the entire series! 

What is something you’re passionate about? 

I love to do calligraphy in my free time, so writing is something I am personally passionate about. Writing/calligraphy is something that’s helped me cope with my stress in college.  

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

Growing up around San Francisco, I do have some personal favorite places to go to. If you love to walk around and enjoy the scenery, I recommend taking a walk around Bernal Heights Park, Fort Point, or walking around Sausalito. If you love sweets and coffee like me, I recommend Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. There are also many countless shopping areas and restaurants all over the Bay Area!  

 

Faces of PUC: Dannica Roberts 

Coming to PUC from Honolulu, HI, Dannica Roberts is studying physical education. As an older sibling, she’s always been a nurturer and is really passionate about helping people which makes her a great fit here at PUC where students are encouraged to join service projects. Dannica is well-known for being “super sweet” so when you see her on campus don’t hesitate to say hello! 

What is your dream job? 

My dream job would be to become a pilot and a dentist for children. 

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

When I was young, I wanted to become a teacher, so my dream jobs have not happened yet. Eventually, I would love to learn how to fly a plane and maybe get some experience in the dentistry field. 

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

I receive so much love and support from the Pioneers family. 

What is your favorite place in the world? 

My favorite places in the world are either the beach where I would be surfing or in another country, like Taiwan or Peru where I would want to help with community service projects. 

What show are you bingeing these days? 

I have been binge-watching Criminal Minds and I am so close to finishing all 12 seasons of it. 

What is something you’re passionate about? 

I am passionate about going out into the community and helping with service projects. 

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

I would recommend buying a ticket to go riding on the cable car around San Francisco and of course, visiting Ghirardelli Square. 

 

Faces of PUC: April Medel 

April Medel is a senior from Stockton, Calif., majoring in psychology with an emphasis in Spanish and pre-medicine. She is passionate about helping others and is dedicated to making changes in how the medical field treats minorities. April was sweet enough to answer some questions for us. We are truly blessed to have students like April on our campus!

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to be a doctor. Personally, it does not really matter to me what kind of doctor I end up being as long as I am able to make a difference in someone’s life physically and emotionally and being able to use my knowledge and resources to try and fix parts of the system that are broken, like the prejudice many minorities face while seeking medical care. 

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

I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was in the first grade!  Having the ability to help others and using the resources I have to help those in need is something I wanted to do since I was a kid and I am glad that my priorities have not changed. 

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

My favorite thing about being part of the Pioneers family is that I am given the opportunity to worship God at the end of a stressful week. Many schools do not offer that opportunity, and I feel like it is great how PUC students can all get together, praise God, and give thanks for another successful week. 

Where is your favorite place in the world? 

My favorite place in the world is definitely Yosemite. Yosemite is basically my second home and I have been going there since I was born. It is a place where I can shut out the world and just thank God for all the blessings in my life. 

What show are you bingeing these days? 

I have been watching Space Force and 100 Humans on Netflix. Space Force is such a cute show and I just love Steve Carell. 100 Humans is extremely interesting so if you are interested in research and random human behaviors, then you should definitely check it out! 

What is something you’re passionate about? 

I am really passionate about standing up against racism and making sure everyone is treated equally and with respect. The Black Lives Matter movement, standing up for women and LGBTQ+ rights, and helping immigrants and DACA recipients are stuff that I am really passionate about. 

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

I recommend going to Napa or to Pier 39 in San Francisco with your friends. If you want a bit more adventure, definitely check out Alcatraz in San Francisco or the Manchester House in San Jose.