Category Archives: Staff Profile

Meet Amanda Garcia: PUC’s Executive Assistant for Marketing & Communication

Amanda Garcia graduated from PUC in 2017 with a degree in environmental studies. After receiving her degree, she spent two years in our biology department as a lab coordinator. Since December 2020, Amanda has taken on the role of executive assistant for marketing and communication. She loves PUC, which shows by the amazing work she does for our college.

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

I have lived in Angwin for 15 years. I heard PUC had a great biology program. I want to help the college in any way I can because PUC has helped me with my career journey, and I am soooo thankful! I feel God has guided me to this position, especially this year because I lost my previous job due to Covid-19. I am so thankful to PUC for this opportunity! 

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

The best thing is that we are all taught by God. I really enjoyed my teachers praying before classes. I really felt comfortable, and it was nice to see my teachers doing that! There is a lot of outreach PUC provides from the church, chaplain’s office, and clubs, which helped balance school, social, and spiritual growth for myself.  

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

Filippi’s Pizza Grotto

645 1st St, Napa, CA 94559

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

I knit and crochet! This summer, I completed a 5ft crochet blanket! With God’s guidance, I want to work with tigers someday for wildlife conversation.   

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

Rascal Flatts – Bless the Broken Road. I love Country Music. 

Who is someone you admire and why? 

My Mother! She is the kindest person with such a big heart and such a strong woman! She gives of herself entirely to her family. She loves the Lord and has shown me how to be a responsible, respectful, honorable, kind, and strong person for Christ’s Glory! 

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

Eating an Omelet and watching Call the Midwife! 

Coaches Corner: Melissa Barton

Coming from Denver, CO., is PUC’s Men’s Volleyball coach Melissa Barton. This year was her second season coaching, with the previous coaching at Union College in Lincoln, NE. Melissa coaches to win while also having fun in the process. She believes effort beats talent, so she trains her team to always give a hundred percent.

Melissa kindly answered some questions for us to learn more about her and her team. 

What makes PUC athletics different from other colleges and universities? 

At PUC you can tell that we are in a season of growth. Everyone has the same goal in mind and that is to better our program. I believe that is what sets us apart right now. 

How do you keep your players motivated during the season? 

Motivation for my players is easy, they all have such a strong love and passion for the game, they just want to play. They are very self-motivated because they enjoy what they do.

What values do you instill in your players? 

Respect is one of the biggest values. As well as discipline, I hope people can see a difference in my team. 

What do you enjoy most about being a coach?

I love all the memories made and seeing my players light up with joy when they get that kill, or ace, or whatever good thing they did. It makes my heart happy. 

How do you support your players on and off the court? 

My players know that I am always there for them. On and off-court whether it is volleyball-related or not. They know that I will always have their back with everything, 

Outside of competing, are there activities you try to get your students involved in? 

My athletes are regularly involved in helping the sports teams out on game day. I also have several men on my team that play instruments for vespers and church. My team is very charismatic and loves to show up to the SA events. 

How do you incorporate spiritual life within your team? 

My team has worship on Monday’s lead out by myself. And on every other day of the week the players, each take turns in leading out in a quick devotional before each practice. This allows them to talk about what they believe in, and what is important to them. 

Why should prospective students choose PUC over another program? 

They will be joining a family, not just a school. 

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

My favorite thing is getting to know the athletes as more than just players on a court. Like I said we become a family. 

When you’re not coaching, what do you enjoy doing? 

I enjoy doing other sports, exploring random cities, watching movies, and driving around in my truck listening to country music. 

Introducing PUC Registrar, Susan Walters

Meet PUC’s new registrar, Susan Walters. She always wanted to work at PUC, so when the opportunity presented itself- she had to take it. Not only does she join our PUC family, but her two daughters as well. Susan has lived all over California- from growing up in San Jose to spending her adult life in Southern California and living in Lodi for the last four years before coming to Angwin. We are pleased to have Susan and her family with us!

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

I always wanted to work at PUC, and when the opportunity came for me to come here, I took it. Two of my girls will be attending PUC this Fall quarter. They will both be in the dorms.

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

The Pioneers family is very supportive and wants everyone to succeed, so they do their best to help out. 

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

I haven’t really eaten out much, but I do like the Himalayan Kitchen in Saint Helena.

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

I love listening to contemporary Christian music…even if it isn’t Sabbath.

What is your dream vacation? 

I want to go to Bora Bora and stay in a hut on the ocean.

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

Drinking coffee and reading. 

Coaches Corner: Abraham Garrido 

Abraham Garrido is the head coach for PUC’s Men’s and Women’s Cross Country team. This is his first year coaching at PUC and has previously coached high school basketball at Fresno Adventist Academy. He recently graduated from PUC this past June, and we couldn’t be happier to have Abraham continue his life on our campus. 

What makes PUC athletics different from other colleges and universities?

What makes PUC athletics different from other schools is the never give up attitude that our athletes have. Whether it’s on or off the field, court, or trails, PUC athletes and coaches strive to be the best that they can be. 

How would you describe your coaching style?

Fun but competitive. I say this because I want my athletes to enjoy the sport that they are participating in. In doing so, if my athletes fall in love with the sport, they’ll want to compete even more because they like the sport. 

How do you keep your players motivated during the season? 

I do fun activities such as running to a waterfall and running around lakes. I also remind them and show them the progress they have made over the course of the season. 

Outside of competing, are there activities you try to get your players involved in? 

I try to encourage my athletes to participate in clubs, church, and even school outings. 

What values do you instill in your players? 

To respect others, have patience and to do their best in everything that they do. 

How do you incorporate spiritual life within your team? 

We, as a team, pray in the mornings and pray before each race. 

What do you enjoy most about being a coach?

Seeing my athletes improve in any aspect in life. Whether it’s sports, school or other hobbies that they might have. 

How do you support your players on and off the court? 

We, as a team, have a group chat. So, as a team, we support each other with anything that they might need. 

Why should prospective students choose PUC over another program? 

Location! We have the best location out of any school, and it can’t be put more simply than that. 

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

Having the ability to change/improve what others before me started. 

When you’re not coaching, what do you enjoy doing? 

When I’m not coaching, I love to participate in ultra-marathon races and ride 100 miles on my bike. Overall, you can say that I love to be outdoors. 

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.

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!

Get To Know PUC Church Pastor Chanda Nunes

By: Ashley Eisele

In the midst of the pandemic, the PUC Church welcomed new lead pastor Chanda Nunes after more than a year-long search to find the right candidate. 

Pastor Nunes was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, and is a graduate of Burman University (formerly Canadian University College) and Andrews University, where she received her Master of Divinity degree. She also holds associate degrees in private investigation & paralegal studies and is a certified life coach practitioner.

She began her pastoral ministry in August 2003, serving the Alberta Conference at the College Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church, on the campus of Burman. From 2008-2015, Pastor Nunes served the Kansas-Nebraska Conference at the New Haven Seventh-day Adventist Church and was the first Black pastor ever to serve in the Conference, as well as the first Black woman pastor to serve in the Mid-American Union. She was commissioned while there in 2011.

Pastor Nunes has served the Northern California Conference since 2015, most recently at the Capitol City Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sacramento, Calif. She is the first Black woman pastor to serve within the Conference where she was ordained in June 2018.

“My biggest hope for right now,” Nunes says. “Is that this pandemic will cease, and that we have an opportunity to come back together as a church family to experience the love and fellowship that we have been missing all these months.”

While Pastor Nunes is very excited for the unique experience of pastoring in a college town, the pandemic has not allowed her congregation to get to know her as well as she would like so she jumped at the chance to sit down (virtually) and answer some questions. 

What is pastoring like during a pandemic? 

Pastoring during a pandemic is a unique position to be in. This is something we’ve never been through or have seen modeled for us, so we’re literally starting at ground zero. This is the time for pastors to unleash their creativity like never before, in order that the Message of the Gospel can continue moving forward. 

How do you connect with a new community when our congregation is virtual?

This part is a challenge. I’m an extrovert and love to meet new people, so with the social distancing that we are expected to adhere to, it will now take (more) time to get to know members individually. Every week, I try to work my way through our church family directory, and make a number of phone calls, send emails/texts messages.

What makes pastoring a campus church special? 

Pastoring a campus church is an exciting and unique experience! You have great resources at hand, the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, energy and insight from all age-ranges, and the desire to come together to learn, and to lift up Jesus!

What hopes do you have for the PUC Church and community in the coming months and years? 

My biggest hopes for right now is that this pandemic will cease, and that we have an opportunity to come back together as a church family to experience the love and fellowship that we have been missing all these months.  

The PUC Church welcomes you to join their weekly worship service each Sabbath morning at 11 a.m. Join at livestream.com/pucchurch

Alumni Profile: Robert Quiroz, Born For Service

By: Dana Negro

Robert Quiroz’s grandfather, Robert Moreno, served in the U.S. Army for 20 years; executing combat jumps in Korea with the infamous 187th Rakkasans, two tours in Vietnam, and was a purple heart recipient. Quiroz was named after him and knew at an early age he wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and serve his country. Just months after his grandfather passed away, Quiroz lost a close childhood friend to an IED in Afghanistan. As he grieved the loss of these two important people, he realized now was the time for him to take action. After a lot of prayer, Quiroz joined the California Army National Guard on March 29, 2011. 

Quiroz knew of PUC but it was only while reading Fearless, by Eric Blehm, the biography of Adam Brown, a Navy SEAL who died in Afghanistan, that an idea began to form. The book mentions a young man from Angwin, Calif., and that caught Quiroz’s eye. The thought of completing a college degree was very appealing and it seemed like he was meant to be at PUC. Once he returned from military training, he and his wife moved to Angwin and began attending PUC.  

Quiroz graduated from PUC with an associate’s degree in health sciences, ’16, and a bachelor’s degree in health communication, ’19, and spent this past year working as a staff member in the public relations office at PUC. Towards the beginning of the pandemic, Quiroz received a call from the National Guard informing him he would need to report for duty immediately. He left his wife and baby daughter and headed out to help serve his country and community during some of the greatest times of uncertainty. We talked with Quiroz to learn more about his experience serving on the front lines. 

What kind of regular training do you have to do to be ready to serve at any time?

The National Guard is unique. We are dual purpose, meaning; we train for our units’ federal mission and our states mission in case we called in for a state emergency. Different units have different responsibilities and roles in case of an emergency, and it depends on your MOS or Military Occupation Specialty. My first is 88M or Motor Transportation. I joined a unit that was being deployed to do route clearance in Afghanistan. A job where you find IEDs and save lives. I transferred to that unit and became a 12 Bravo or Combat Engineer. That deployment didn’t end up happening so I switched my focus to our state mission and trained CERF-P which stands for Chemical, Biological Radiological, and High-Yield Explosive Emergency Response Force Package. It is a homeland response to a disaster, natural or man-made. The unit I was a part of was Search and Extraction. We trained to enter collapsed structures and rescue people. It was hard work, but we were able to train with Urban Search and Rescuer Task-4 firefighters from the Bay Area. It’s very important for the National Guard to work with other agencies because we augment their abilities. In the end, we are citizen soldiers and are a part of the community we serve. 

You served while you were a student and a staff member at PUC. You are also married and have a young daughter. How do you juggle your responsibilities at home, in the classroom, and work with the potential to be called in to serve with little notice?

It was tough. Especially when I first started school at PUC. My unit was always training and sending me places during the quarter. I really had to make one-on-one connections with the faculty and explain my situation. Most were understanding and really helped me out! My commitments really made me learn to plan things out. I always knew I would be away at least one weekend a month and that was the week I really needed to get all my school word done. There were numerous times I was called away for duty and it interrupted school. Those connections with the professors really saved me. 

It also helps to have a wonderful partner. My wife is amazing. It’s tough on her at times. The military has given so much to my family, but it takes time in return. I’ve missed birthdays, weddings, and special occasions. When I was deployed for a year, I missed everything! Even her graduating from PUC in 2017. That was tough. She is a champ and I am blessed to have her in my life. 

This spring towards the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic you were called in. Tell us about that.

It was chaotic at first. We had warnings that we may be called up. My unit first tapped eight people for a mission to support the Department of Public Health doing what they called “symptom screenings.” Our jobs were to screen the workers for any symptoms of COVID-19. If anyone showed symptoms, they were sent home. It was important because our locations were vital data gathering hubs that tracked resources and numbers relating to COVID-19 in the state of California. These were operating centers that couldn’t afford to be shut down, due to an outbreak, because lives depended on correct numbers to allocate resources according to the most severe areas. It was long days, but I felt like I was contributing to the fight. We were put up in hotels in Sacramento for two months. It was weird being the only people driving around since Sacramento was shut down. It was the longest time I had been separated from my daughter. I saw her twice during my activation. In the end, I was grateful to be home safe and COVID free.

Where were you sent? 

I was sent to Rancho Cordova for a few weeks. Our mission was to conduct symptom screening for the Medical and Health Coordination Center in downtown Sacramento. This center received data concerning COVID-19 from health centers all over California. Eventually, they went remote and we were sent to do the same thing but at the 115th Task Force in Roseville. The 115th were responsible for coordinating California’s National Guard response. They were receiving their information from the California Office of Emergency Response. Again, it was a logistics hub that couldn’t afford an outbreak of COVID-19.

What were you responsible for doing?

I was part of the group of eight that our company activated. I was in charge of the seven. We conducted symptom screenings at three separate locations. My job, in addition to system screener, was Non-Commission Officer in Charge or NCOIC. I handled information flowing in and out of our group. On ESAD (Emergency State Active Duty) orders many things have to be tracked daily. Food, fuel used, gallons of fuel put into the vehicle, miles on vehicles, who has the day off, who is sleeping where, among many other things. All that information had to flow up to a central person (me) and then I had to push that information up the chain of command. 

What was a typical day like?

At first, we would wake up at 4:50 a.m. to be on the road at 5: 25 a.m. Work started at 6 a.m. and went till 6 p.m. This was life for a while with no days off. During that time, we would put on some protective equipment and screen everybody who came in the MHCC. 

Once I moved to Roseville the cycle changed. I worked two days and then had one off but the actual work was the same. I also gave one of my days off to some of my crew at another location who had no days off. 

With degrees in health science and health communication, was there anything you learned in your classes or from professors at PUC that you were able to use while serving in the community?

I would actually like to thank professors Duncan, Vance, and Sung. Because of their classes, I was able to understand the various terms the personnel were using at the MHCC. My communication courses played a role in me better communicating with Army personnel. You really need to know how to approach people to effectively get your concerns understood. I was thrust into a unit where I knew nobody and only had one prior working relationship. In the end, we were part of a team, but it takes time to build that team relationship. The better you understand how to communicate across many levels and personalities the quicker you are absorbed into the team. Thank you to communication professors Rai and McGuire. Your  knowledge helped in many different ways!

What has been the most memorable part of serving during the pandemic?

I would say the people I met. They were from parts of the California National Guard I never would have had the opportunity to meet before. I met many people from San Diego, LA, Bay Area, and Northern California. It was such a diverse group that all jumped at a moment’s notice when our state was in need. It was really cool to see everyone playing a part and contributing to the success of the overall mission of helping the state function. I also got to share a hotel room with one of my buddies from my deployment. We were roomies again! 

Faces of PUC: Introducing PUC’s Newest Nursing Professor, Jenna Park

Jenna Park is a PUC nursing alum and enjoyed her college experience so much she’s back! Jenna is an assistant professor in the department of nursing. She started her position in July but is no stranger to the community. Jenna’s happy to be back in the Napa Valley, not just for the great restaurants, but being a part of the Pioneers family again. 

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

I decided to come back to PUC because I saw how close and supportive the faculty was even when I was a nursing student. I enjoyed my time at PUC and loved the community, so I knew I had to come back. Nursing school was the most challenging two years of my life, but it was also the most fun and exciting.

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

The best thing about being a part of the Pioneers family is I have the best nursing faculty team. Everyone has been so supportive and welcoming, and I feel like I adjusted fairly quickly to this new position. I also love how close I am to all my favorite places to eat!

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

Whenever I am away from the Valley, I always crave and miss Giugnis Deli. I don’t know what it is about them. There is so much nostalgia and that goodness just makes me want to come back for more all the time.

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

I’m not sure if it would be surprising, but I am obsessed with Disneyland, and I usually go at least once or twice a year. So it’s been tough to be away from Disneyland for so long due to COVID-19, but I am happy that they are staying closed for the safety of our community.

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

I’ve been so busy I haven’t listened to a lot of songs recently, especially since I find it difficult to work or study with music playing in the background.

Who is someone you admire and why? 

I admire my mother because she came to the United States and provided for the family, even though she barely spoke any English. She was a nurse in Korea before I was born, and she came back to the career almost fifteen years later in a whole new country with different rules, cultures, and languages. She is now a veteran nurse, and she has gained respect from all her coworkers, and many nurses come to her for advice. She is the definition of perseverance and hard work, and I aspire to be like her.

Favorite movie to watch? 

It depends on my mood. If I want something adventurous or fun, I’d watch something on Disney Plus. Maybe it’s Moana or maybe it’s The Avengers. But if I want something classic, I love to watch Pride and Prejudice.

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

Sleeping in or grabbing brunch at Gillwoods or Grace’s Table in Napa!

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.