Category Archives: Student Profile

Faces of PUC: Frances Velarde 

Frances Velarde is a nursing major from Arizona. She found her calling to be a nurse and dreams of working in pediatrics. One of her favorite things about PUC is being in a welcoming community that helps her grow spiritually. 

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to be a pediatric nurse.

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

I always wanted to help people and educate others when I was younger and become a teacher, but today, I feel like my calling is to be a nurse instead, and I’m very passionate about it.

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 a lot of the people here in PUC are very wholesome. It’s nice to have a community of people that make you feel included and help you grow spiritually.

Where is your favorite place in the world?

Wherever my friends are because I feel happiest when I’m with them.

If you had to be trapped in a movie for a day, what movie would you choose? 

Crazy Rich Asians

What is something you’re passionate about? 

Music 

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

Daeho, because they have bomb food.

Faces of PUC: Beldina Opiyo 

Beldina Opiyo is a pre-nursing student from San Pablo, CA. She originally wanted to be a doctor, but now wants to be a neonatal nurse or a child therapist to help kids flourish. She chose to attend PUC because she wanted to grow intellectually and spiritually, and felt PUC would guide her through her journey. We are very happy Beldina is a part of our Pioneers family!

What is your dream job?  

I want to be a neonatal nurse if not I want to be a child therapist, I love to help the little ones and watch them grow. I want to help them flourish.  

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

I wanted to be a doctor when I was young but only for the money. I did not know what being a doctor entailed and what I wanted to specialize in.  

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

Everybody genuinely is here to grow and have a fun time and the way I see people support each other every day is very heartwarming.  

Where is your favorite place in the world?  

I have not been to many places yet but I love nature a lot. I think the place that I enjoyed nature the most was Yosemite.  

If you had to be trapped in a movie for a day, what movie would you choose? 

Emma by Autumn de Wilde   

What is something you’re passionate about?  

Dancing  

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

Golden Gate Park  

Faces of PUC: Anzarath Chavez-Duron

Anzarath Chavez-Duron is from Oakland and is studying Health Communications, Pre-Art Therapy. She chose to attend PUC because it was the best option financially. Being a PUC student has allowed her to create wonderful connections and relationships with her professors. 

What is your dream job? 

Something that’s fulfilling.

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

It’s very ambiguous! When I was a kid I was really set on becoming an animator for Pixar.

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

The fact that you can create awesome connections with your professors!

If you had to be trapped in a movie for a day, what movie would you choose?

 “The Cat Returns”

What is something you’re passionate about? 

Good stationery!

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

Half Moon Bay!

You Will Never Regret Studying Abroad

Sarah West graduated from PUC this past school year with a Bachelor of Social Work & Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Studies. One year during college, she enrolled in the ACA Argentina program and loved the experience so much that she wanted to do a summer program- so she did. Sarah recently returned stateside after spending the majority of her summer studying abroad at Villa Aurora in Italy. Although there were a few setbacks, she shares that you will never regret going abroad. 

Tell us about your time in Italy. 

My time in Italy was amazing, even with the few bumps in the road. I got COVID my first week there, so I had to isolate for a week. But once I was freed (tested negative), I was able to return to class with ease. The classes all students take are Conversation, Grammar, art for tours, art history, and Italian culture. If you are not in the intermediate level, then you also take Phonetics. With the ACA program, we visited Cinque Terre, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Venice, and Siena. All of them are day trips, except Rome, which is an overnight stay. 

What made you want to study in Italy?

I loved the ACA Argentina program so much that I knew I wanted to do a summer program before I graduate. So for me, it was between Italy and Spain. I had heard great things about the Italian cafeteria and that made my choice. I also had been to Italy once before and loved it, so I wanted to spend more time there. 

You’ve also studied in Argentina. How have these experiences been different from each other? 

The differences between the Argentina and Italy programs are the ability to travel. Italy is about the size of California, so with access to a car, bus, or train, you can really go anywhere in the county. Argentina on the other hand is about as long as the United States, and there are little pockets of towns/cities with nothing in-between. Argentina is good if your goal is to learn Spanish and experience the culture of Argentina. Italy, and I assume other European programs, are good for traveling, but more people will probably know English, so finding a push to learn the language may be a little more difficult. 

Describe your time in Italy in three words.  

Amazing food/travel. 

What have been your favorite things about studying abroad in Italy?

I have loved learning about different cultures and history of the countries. I also like meeting people. While I was at the school in Italy, I ran into someone who I had met at the school in Argentina, and that was one of the craziest things I will probably ever experience. 

Did PUC play a part in your preparation for Italy?

Yes, because one of my friends had done the ACA Italy year program, and she gave me some good heads up on what to expect. I was also able to conquer the hills of Italy due to the cardio of running around PUC campus. 

What would you say to someone who is interested in ACA?

If you are interested in it, DO IT. You will never regret going, and all was regret not doing it. There will never be a time in your life when you will live in Italy for 6 weeks or Argentina for a year. You grow so much as a person and have a better understanding of yourself and the world. 

Faces of PUC: Abby Harris 

Coming to PUC from Littleton, CO., is Abby Harris. She is an emergency management, pre-physician assistant student who dreams of one day being the personal surgeon for the Denver Nuggets. Abby’s favorite places are the mountains and the beach, which makes PUC the perfect location for her to have the best of both worlds.

What is your dream job? 

My dream job would be to work as a personal orthopedic surgeon for a professional sports team. One of the main characters in Grey’s Anatomy (the best show) was a personal surgeon for the Seattle Mariners, and ever since finding out that this was a real job, I’ve always dreamed of doing it. I would want to work for the Denver Nuggets because they’re my favorite basketball team, and basketball is my favorite sport to watch.

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

When I was younger, I wanted to be a part-time veterinarian/part-time artist. Sadly, my artistic skills did not develop as I got older, so that’s not a possibility anymore. I do still think that being a veterinarian would be fun!

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

Since being at PUC, I’ve enjoyed the beautiful campus and the kind people. Everyone that I’ve met so far has been so kind. Being a part of the Pioneers family has been a great experience thus far!

Where is your favorite place in the world? 

My favorite place in the world would probably be either the mountains or the beach. Even though they’re polar opposites, I love both so much. Back home in Colorado, you can see the mountains from almost everywhere, so I’ve always loved them because they remind me of home. I didn’t grow up around a beach, so now that the ocean is less than a couple of hours away, I’ve been loving it! Both the mountains and the ocean remind me of how amazing our God is and what an incredible creator he is.

What is something you’re passionate about? 

I’d say I’m passionate about living an active lifestyle. I spent most of my childhood outside with my brother, learning to play every sport in the book. When I was old enough to play sports at school, I made it my goal to play every sport offered and to put 100% effort into each of them. In high school, I played volleyball, basketball, and soccer, volleyball being my favorite. My dad gave his love of sports to me, so I’ve always loved watching and playing sports.

What have you enjoyed the most since moving to Northern California? 

The beautiful scenery and weather. The weather here is so nice, and it’s been great not having to deal with snowstorms every couple of weeks. It’s also been really fun to be close to both the mountains and the beach! I can spend one day at the beach and the next in the mountains snowboarding which is really cool. So far, my experience living in California has been super fun, and I can’t wait to explore even more.

Pioneers Represent at Student-Athlete Council Summit 

(PUC student-athletes Madison Kindred & Nathan Hiss on the far right, second row.)

The Student-Athlete Council Summit is a yearly event hosted by the commissioner of the Cal Pac, where representatives from all Cal Pac schools meet and come up with proposals to make the student-athlete experience better by addressing topics that need changing and revising athletic programs as a school and conference. PUC athletes Madison Kindred (women’s volleyball) and Nathan Hiss (cross country) were chosen to represent our college athletes amongst 10 of the 13 Cal Pac schools at this year’s summit to form the 2022-2023 Student Athlete Council at Cal Maritime in Vallejo. 

As SAC representatives, Madison and Nathan’s responsibilities are to ensure that the Cal Pac is responsive to the needs of PUC athletes and resolve the many issues student-athletes face. By doing so, they attended various meetings discussing leadership, emphasizing making a lasting impact on their school’s athletic department and those enrolled in the Cal Pac and NAIA. They met other representatives, participated in team activities, attended a speech by Admiral Copper, and worked closely with the commissioner to create plans and goals for each school. “Our goal at the university level is to represent student-athletes and work with administration to solve the issues that arise throughout the school year and implement lasting solutions,” said Nathan.

Out of all the sessions, the one topic that stood out to Nathan and Madison was mental health and how they can better support student-athletes by addressing their mental health needs. “This stood out the most because it was a universal problem across the schools represented at the summit. This is important to cover because of the extra stress added to athletes throughout their education and athletic careers,” shares Madison. Nathan added, “This topic was deemed as top priority in our council as each school’s athletics department has suffered from struggles arising from mental health.”

From what Madison and Nathan learned from the summit, they both will take action to create a SAC at PUC composed of members from each sport and meet throughout the year to resolve team and department issues and become leaders on our campus.

A Leap of Faith in Italy 

Natalia Gomez recently flew back to her hometown of Santa Barbara after spending most of her summer studying abroad at Villa Aurora in Italy. Applying through ACA (Adventist Colleges Abroad), she saw that she didn’t know anyone in the program but decided to take a leap of faith and go on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure before her senior year. By facing her fears, Natalia met amazing people on campus, learned Italian, explored new places, and indulged in delicious food every day. From her “HOT!, inspiring, and yummy” time in Italy, Natalia couldn’t have asked for a better study abroad experience.

How has your time in Italy been? 

My time in Italy has been great! I’ve been able to visit and explore a new Italian city every week as well as really familiarize myself with Florence. It’s pretty exciting to be living in Florence and find my favorite spots to study or get gelato. I have definitely indulged and gotten gelato almost every day I’ve been here. School in Italy is not structured the same as back home, and learning a new language comes with its challenges, but it has been a lot of fun learning a new language and immersing yourself in the culture. I’d definitely say that I’ve gotten the most practice with speaking in Italian through talking with salespeople or waiters at restaurants. I didn’t always understand what they were saying at first or even what I was saying, but it made for some funny moments, and after a few weeks, I got the hang of it. I’m definitely not fluent, but I’ve really enjoyed being able to speak with locals in Italian as best as I can. 

What inspired you to study in Italy?

I have to be honest, the foodie in me is what really determined me to study in Italy. I love pasta, and I love ice cream, and the thought of having the best of the best in Italy, on a regular basis? Sold! But of course, I also thought it would be really exciting to make new friends from all over the world. I really enjoyed going on an ADRA missions trip a few years back, and I made incredible friendships from that experience, and I was also hoping the same would come out of studying abroad! I actually took a really big leap of faith and decided to go abroad alone, without knowing anyone else in the program. And after my time here, I honestly would recommend going even if you don’t know anyone. 

Describe your typical day studying abroad.

My typical day abroad: I wake up around 7 a.m. to get ready for breakfast at 7:30 at the caf or a quick trip to a nearby cafe. Then I go to classes from 8:40-1:15, usually getting some snacks from the vending machines during class breaks. Once I’m out of classes, I run over to the caf for lunch to be in the front of the lunch line because lunch is the best meal of the day on campus! And after lunch, some friends and I take off to our favorite spots to do homework and study. Then we explore Florence or go shopping before dinner. If I don’t eat dinner in town, I go back to campus for dinner, but regardless- I will always go out with friends after dinner for gelato. Then it’s time for an ice-cold shower before bed, it’s so hot in the summer, that’s the only way to fall asleep peacefully. (keep in mind, I was in Italy during Europe’s record-breaking heat wave). I usually fall asleep around midnight. 

What have been your favorite things about studying abroad?

Surprisingly meeting new people has been my favorite thing! I’m actually a pretty shy person and studying in Italy without knowing anyone seemed scary at first. However, I’ve met amazing people while being here, from students to teachers and the volunteers who work on campus! I’ve had so much fun going out with everyone here that I’ve actually already made plans to travel and go out with some new friends after returning home! 

What will you miss the most about your time abroad? 

That’s tough, I miss so much! But I’d have to say exploring Florence in the afternoons after school was the best time. Practicing our Italian, finding new places, trying new foods – just adventuring without a plan was so fun! Some of the funniest memories came from us just taking advantage of our time and exploring. Was there an afternoon where at one point there were dark clouds and lightning off in the distance? Yes. Did we have jackets or umbrellas? Nope. Did we get caught in a rainstorm and end up running in the rain all over the city? Yes, we did, and it was one of the funniest nights ever. Truly just do it all!

Recommend an Italian dish or restaurant. 

Medici’s has the best gelato and this has been confirmed by multiple locals! I went here almost every day of the summer- all the flavors are amazing! Although I’d have to say that Stracciatella is my favorite flavor of gelato, and this was the best place to get it. Everywhere else I went did not compare.

What would you say to someone who is interested in ACA?

Just go for it! Don’t let any of your fears or worries stop you from having once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It sounds so cheesy, but when else will you have the opportunity to be 18-22 ish running around a foreign city with friends, trying new foods, seeing beautiful landscapes, and learning about another culture? It’s probably one of the last times you’ll have a summer camp type of experience before you graduate and start working.

Faces of PUC: Nathan Hiss 

Nathan Hiss is a biology pre-med student from Orinda. One of his favorite things about being a PUC student is that everyone is always ready to help him out when needed. Nathan dreams of being a dermatologist and enjoys outdoor activities, such as fishing, hiking, and running. 

What is your dream job?  

My dream job is to be a dermatologist. 

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

Ever since I was little, I always wanted to be a doctor like many members of my family. When I was a baby my parents got me a toy doctor set and my favorite tool was the reflex hammer.  

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

My favorite thing about being a part of the Pioneer family is the inclusivity of everyone. Everyone is so warm and welcoming, and always ready to give help when asked! I always have someone to help me with schoolwork if I get stuck on a difficult topic! 

Where is your favorite place in the world?  

My home and hometown are my favorite places in the entire world. There is nowhere I would rather be than where I am right now! 

What show are you bingeing these days?  

Every Friday after my last class and before vespers, I watch an episode of Deadliest Catch. It has been one of my all-time favorite shows since I was 4. 

What is something you’re passionate about?  

I am very passionate about fishing, hiking, and running. I really enjoy outdoor activities so anything pertaining to heading into nature is game.  

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

A great place to go to in the Bay Area on the weekend is Stinson beach. The sand is soft, there’s good parking, fun running trails, skid boarding and great food. My favorite food spot is definitely the Siren Canteen and I would highly recommend going there. It is a 5-minute walk from the beach and has the best food.   

Kickin’ It With Santiago Hernandez, Men’s Soccer Manager

Coming from Talladega, Alabama, is PUC’s Men’s Soccer manager, Santiago Hernandez. Majoring in Religion, with an emphasis in Health Professions, school keeps him busy but that didn’t stop him from becoming interested in his position as soccer manager. Santiago knew he wanted to help coaches be ready during practices and be a part of the journey of creating a better team, sharing great memories, and making new friends through soccer. 

Tell us about being a team manager. What does a typical day on the job look like?

Being a team manager has been fun. If there are 2 practices in a day, there is a morning session (2 hours) and then an evening session (2 hours). Some morning sessions are used for soccer athletes to be in the weight room for strength and conditioning for approximately 1 hour, and then the second hour of the session is used for futsal (indoor soccer). The general typical day on the job, if the sessions are at the soccer field, then I arrive at work 30 minutes before the session starts to set up for practices. I bring the mannequins, ball bags, training pinnies, cones, and fill up the water jug in order to ensure soccer athletes can stay hydrated while at practice. During practice, I may help with some of the training drills, or maybe standing behind the goals and collecting any balls that may go past the goal in order to make sure no ball is lost and to make sure there is always plenty for practice. Once practices have ended, I stay approximately an extra 30 minutes to clean up, put all the training gear back into the storage room and pick up any trash that may be around the field.

Can you share some examples of how you keep your athletes motivated during the season?

One of the things I do most is follow up on the athletes throughout the season, that may be once a week, or once every 2 weeks. I will have conversations with them and ask how they feel, after game day, talk to them and ask how they were feeling during the game, and just find ways to improve. I feel that by talking and listening to them, it keeps them motivated cause it shows that I care and support them. I may give them advice at times, not only that may be needed for the game, but also for life. Another way to keep them motivated is to ask them what goals or objectives they want to accomplish for each game, and for the season. Letting them know that if they need my help with anything is also another way to keep them motivated as I remind them of the goals each individual wants to accomplish and merging that with the team goals.

What is your favorite thing about being team manager?

Being a part of this journey, helping create a better program, and being able to enjoy great experiences with the team. 

What do you like most about being part of the Pioneers family?

The diversity of the Pioneers family is one of the things I like most. Seeing different people of different backgrounds, and just coming together not just as a team, but becoming a family is one of the things that excites me most and knowing that each member of this family is willing to work excites me and makes me have a desire to work harder everyday.

What advice do you have for someone interested in being a team manager? What skills are needed? 

An advice I would give someone if he or she is interested in being a team manager is to be willing to work everyday. Do more than what you are expected to do. Some skills that are needed would be a strong work ethic, punctuality, willingness to possibly do extra work, good communication skills with coaching staff and athletes, and I think it’s better as a team manager to know how to play the sport so you can help athletes if they need extra help outside of practice hours

What are the values of your team?

Some of the values my team has is that they are determined, passionate, eager to win, and have a great work ethic. 

Describe being a team manager in three words

Fun, exciting, enjoyable

Faces of PUC: Danika Saucelo 

Danika Saucelo is a nursing student from Antioch who has worked as a CNA and aspires to become a nurse practitioner. She loves helping patients, giving the best care, and connecting with them. To relax from school and work, Danika finds taking nature photos calming.

What is your dream job? 

As of right now, my dream job would be to become an RN (Registered Nurse). But I also aspire to hopefully reach the level of becoming a Nurse Practitioner. This career is so versatile and I would be able to experience long-lasting connections with my patients by providing basic preventative health care. As I am already working as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), being able to help patients with everyday activities, providing the best possible care, and also building connections with patients, is something that I would love to continue doing in the future.

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

When I was younger, I already knew that I wanted to be involved in healthcare. Around 6th grade, I had planned on wanting to become a Dermatologist. It was within the healthcare career, and I was really interested in skin, and how the skin can be prone to certain cancers or diseases. 

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

My favorite thing about being a part of the Pioneers family is the constant feeling of being welcome. Ever since I first visited the campus, I knew that I was in a safe, peaceful, and welcoming environment. Everyone was beyond helpful and respectful, and it just gave me an overwhelming feeling of happiness. 

Where is your favorite place in the world? 

I think my favorite place in the world would be Lake Tahoe. I always go there to camp with my family, and you just can’t beat their crystal-clear water. It’s getting more and more crowded, but I love going there.

What song have you been listening to on repeat?

Dynamite by BTS has been my go-to song lately. It’s such a mood-booster and it always makes me happy whenever I listen to it!

What is something you’re passionate about?

Singing and photography are some things that I am really passionate about. I love listening to music, so singing is just something that makes me happy. I’m not an expert photographer or anything, but taking pictures (especially in nature settings) is something that I find to be calming.

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

A place I would recommend to go to the Bay Area would probably be Bethel Island. It’s a wonderful place to go if you love boating and swimming. Plus, they have this amazing place to eat called “Sugar Barge Restaurant & Bar.” Their fish-n-chips are AMAZING!