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Meet Student Chaplain, Ashley Garner 

Ashley Garner is one of PUC’s student chaplains this year. Through her previous roles with our campus ministries team and joining praise and worship, she fell in love with ministry- and wanted to take on more responsibilities by becoming a student chaplain. She’s been able to meet more people- and witness ministry and Jesus change lives.

Share with us what it means being a student chaplain.

Disclaimer: This is just how I would personally define student chaplaincy; others may have differing definitions! A student chaplain has the privilege and great responsibility to assist and guide individual students as well as the student body as a whole in spirituality. Being a student chaplain means to engage in many different types of ministry and serve the various needs of students, staff, and the community. Modeling Jesus, student chaplains should seek to serve the whole person: the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of those around them. I believe that a student chaplain has the responsibility to be a campus prayer leader/prayer warrior, consistently praying for others and for spiritual change on campus.

What made you want to be a student chaplain?

I first started getting involved with ministry in high school. I joined the praise team, the Campus Ministries team, and eventually became the Religious-vice my senior year. I started on the PUC Campus Ministries team last year as PR; and also got involved with PUC praise and worship. I fell in love with ministry through these roles and wanted to further my journey in ministry and take on a new role and a bit more responsibility this year as a student chaplain!

What are your responsibilities?

Under Campus Ministries, I am a general student chaplain, the women’s dorm/residence hall chaplain, and I am our PR (this is my second year doing that!). My responsibilities generally include but are not limited to: managing Campus Ministries and being a part of our team; assisting the Chaplain in various ways, serving on a spiritual life committee; being a spiritual resource for dorm staff and residents; and managing Campus Ministries social media and public relations. Moreover, I have a responsibility to my campus, Pacific Union College; my boss, the PUC Chaplain, Pastor Kent Rufo; my team, the Campus Ministries team; and to overall serve God in everything I do.

What are the challenges you have as a student chaplain?

The challenges I’ve discovered, specifically this year, are trying to reach the entire student body in a meaningful way that promotes spiritual change. I’d love to personally know every single person on this campus and their needs; however, this is, unfortunately, impossible for one person to do. Also, programming is a big part of our ministry, and it’s an awesome opportunity but I wish I had more opportunities to connect with people on a one-on-one, personal basis. It’s definitely been a transitional year with COVID-19 still impacting our campus and the way we do ministry, which has undoubtedly presented challenges for the past 2+ years.

What is your favorite part about being a student chaplain?

My favorite part about being a student chaplain is the relationships with people. It’s been amazing to get to know more people, work with those who share the same love for God and others, and to be a part of a community. It’s also a very rewarding job: it’s really cool to see someone be impacted by the ministry we do and to see lives change through Jesus.

What do you hope to accomplish as a student chaplain this year?

What I’d love to accomplish this year is to start meaningful spiritual change on our campus. For the past 2 years, life has been largely uncertain and challenging due to the pandemic. As we try to rebuild from that, I want to help create a safe community at PUC, where people can dwell with God and others. I want to help create an atmosphere and culture that people who experience our campus can say, “God is working here and God’s presence is prevalent”.

What advice do you have for someone struggling with their spiritual life? 

This is a tough question but so important. Firstly, I want to encourage those struggling. It’s certainly okay to struggle with your spiritual walk, and everyone— even the most devout religious leaders— struggle with their spiritual life sometimes. It’s okay to admit you are struggling and I think that takes courage and is admirable. Another piece of advice to specifically PUC students: utilize your resources! There are many resources for spiritual care here on campus. Talk to our Chaplain, a professor you trust, the counseling center, or even a student chaplain, Religious-vice president, or any student leader. We are here for you and we would love to assist you in your spiritual life, and we’d love to simply pray for you. Prayer is powerful!

What about being a student chaplain has prepared you for your career and other aspects of your future?

Student chaplaincy has prepared me for my career- in the sense that I’ve gotten to work with many different people from all walks of life, and I’ve gotten to build interpersonal skills. It’s also taught me a lot about fostering community in the workplace. I believe you can minister in any professional field, and being involved in ministry has taught me that and has also equipped me with skills to do so, although I still have a lot to learn. Being a student chaplain frequently pushes me outside my comfort zone, and I’ve developed leadership skills and learned to be more comfortable with public speaking. 

What is your favorite weekend activity?

My favorite weekend activities are trying new coffee shops, thrifting, and yoga. I love coffee, and my favorite coffee shop near PUC is Soul Rebel Organic Coffee and Juice Bar in Calistoga. I also have been getting into yoga recently, and hot yoga is my favorite!

What do you enjoy doing outside of school?

Outside of school, I really enjoy hanging out with friends and family, playing sports, working out, and music (usually singing or playing the piano). I’m currently playing basketball intramurals, and my favorite sports are flag football and soccer. I make it a priority to move my body at least once a day, whether it is weight lifting, running, walking, or playing sports with friends.

What do you love about PUC?

I love many things about PUC. For one, the campus and the Napa Valley are beautiful; I love the trees, the sunshine, the sunsets, and even the fog and rain. I also love that there are so many opportunities here; for example, I’ve gotten to become a Student chaplain, a student-athlete on the women’s soccer team for 2-years, a member of the praise and worship team, a member of the Psychology honor’s society (Psi Chi), I was blessed to get a part-time job at Adventist Health St. Helena and I’m planning on serving as a student missionary next year! Through all of those opportunities, I’ve grown personally, spiritually, academically, socially, and professionally: I’ve met amazing people, traveled, made memories that are so special to me, and grown my relationship with God. PUC is pretty great. I’m honestly just so thankful that it was a part of God’s plan for me to attend here.

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. 

PUC’S Jujitsu Club: A Safe Space To Meet People & Better Yourself

PUC’s Jujitsu Club is more than learning martial arts. It’s a community that provides a safe space for everyone to be themselves, better their health, and have fun. Students and faculty meet on campus and travel to Albion once a year to get a change of scenery. Sarah West is president of the club and wants people to know that the Jujitsu Club is not as aggressive as they might think it is. She kindly answered some questions for us to learn more about the Jujitsu Club and why you should join. 

Tell us about the Jujitsu Club. 

Jujitsu club is not what you think it is. Yes, we are learning a martial art, yes, we do grabs, throws, and holds; but it is so much more. It’s a safe space to meet people and to get to better yourself. I feel the most balanced after time on the mat and have learned to respect my body. You also learn how to move in ways that help avoid injuries if one falls, and you have the chance to experience rolling and tumbling.

What made you decide to be a part of this club? What responsibilities does your role as president entail? 

I joined the jujitsu club because of PUC’s club fair. I had already been wanting to get back into martial arts and knew a little bit about jujitsu. My role is mostly to remind people when and where jujitsu is taking place and to help think of things to do as a club. It is a smaller club than most, which makes planning things a lot easier.

What are the goals for the Jujitsu Club this year? 

My main goal this year for the club is to make sure we can still meet safely. It’s hard to social distance when you, or your opponent, is in a chokehold, so making sure all members are being careful and taking precautions is important. 

Can you share any upcoming activities or events you have planned? 

The most exciting thing we have planned for the jujitsu club is the yearly trip to Albion with the biology club. Albion is a great change of scenery to the regular meetings of the jujitsu club, and we usually have a guest sensi join us. Last year we had our Sensi’s Sensi join us, and it was a fun experience for all. 

What is your favorite thing about being in the Jujitsu Club? 

My favorite thing about the jujitsu club is that the members can get to know each other better. Two-hour meetings twice a week is a lot of time to spend together, and with movie nights and Albion thrown in there, you get to know one another. I think this club does a great job at providing a safe space for everyone to be themselves and have fun. 

What do you want people to know about the Jujitsu Club?

The main thing I want people to know about the jujitsu club is that it’s not as aggressive as you might think. When I tell friends that I am in a jujitsu club, they make comments about not wanting to mess with me, for fear of my martial arts training. But jujitsu is not aggressive, it’s about learning to take what’s coming at you, and avoiding it/changing its course. 

Convince me to join the Jujitsu Club in five sentences. 

If you want to join the club so that you can defeat all your enemies, this is not the club for you. If you want to learn about balance, have a chance to increase your heart rate and decrease stress, and get to know fellow students and faculty here on the holy hill, this is for you. Jujitsu also gives you some skills on how to stay safe out in the real world. 

Faces of PUC: Kimberly Dunker, Chair of Nursing & Health Science

In honor of National Nurses Day- we wanted to introduce you to PUC’s new Chair of Nursing and Health Science, Kimberly Dunker. Having received her AS and BS from Atlantic Union College, she has been a nurse for 22 years and has worked in a variety of clinical care areas. Before coming to PUC this past fall, she was previously the dean of nursing at Fortis Institute in Nashville. Kimberly not only holds academic positions but is a SIGMA advisor and author for new nursing educators and served in accreditation roles. She is excited to expand the nursing department and give students more healthcare opportunities.

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

I am here at PUC to continue to lead the Nursing and Health Science Departments. I am hoping to elevate nursing practice for those that want to join the healthcare profession.

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

As the chair of nursing and health science, my programs are the gateway to allow those who want to seek healthcare the opportunity to do so. I am excited to expand the nursing program offering online opportunities.  

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

So far we really like anything that is vegetarian-friendly. This area has so many good restaurants it is hard to pick. The English Muffins at Model Bakery and incredible as well as the local cuisine in the St. Helena Farmers market.

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

I can sew. 

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

Trust in you by Lauren Daigle

Where is your dream vacation? 

A vacation is one where I don’t have to cook or clean. Would love to do that anywhere actually. I love to travel. The next place I would love to go is Germany, Austria, Switzerland to do the sound of music tour.

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

Cleaning up from the weekend and preparing for the upcoming week.

Benefits of Taking Summer Classes 

PUC offers a variety of summer classes, workshops, and seminars. Many high schoolers and undergraduates take summer classes because it gives them a head start on checking off their credits and ensures they graduate on time. Taking summer courses at PUC also cuts half the price on classes and boarding. Here are six other benefits of taking summer classes. 

Finish Gen Eds Sooner 

A great way to finish your general education courses sooner is by taking summer classes. This allows you to take up more mandatory classes your major requires from you during the regular school year.  

No Overloading 

Taking summer classes will knock out other courses you have to take during the regular school year, which can give you a lighter course load so you won’t have to worry about overloading on credits. 

You Can Graduate Early 

If you want to begin your college career sooner or want to finish undergrad faster, enrolling in summer classes can help you graduate sooner. Taking summer classes will help you check off your courses and lead you one step closer to graduating early. 

Fewer Classes

Since you’re required to take a number of credits each quarter, summer classes allow you to focus on just one or two classes at a time. No need to worry about juggling too many classes at once.

Explore Your Passions 

During the regular school year, you’re focusing more on core classes. Summer classes are an opportunity for you to explore your passions and take fun electives. You won’t only be earning credits, but getting the chance to see if you want to major or minor in your passions. 

Bump Up Your GPA 

Summer classes can help bump up your GPA and accelerate your academic career. Increasing your GPA will look great on college applications and can help you earn scholarships.

Check out PUC’s summer classes. To speak with someone from our admissions team, call (800) 862-7080, option 2, or email admissions@puc.edu

Meet Assistant Director & Chief Flight Instructor, Ji Yoon

With today being Teacher Appreciation Day, we wanted to introduce you to Assistant Director and Chief Flight Instructor Ji Yoon. We have been delighted to have her at PUC for the last year. When she’s not teaching- she enjoys spending time in nature and playing tennis.

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

I was looking for schools whose mission statements are in line with my values where I can provide hands-on training to aspiring young aviators. PUC was very high on my list of desirable choices. 

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

The opportunity to spend a lot of my time in nature where I can be myself under the thousand stars, meditate, and pray. 

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

Giugni’s Deli! It was the very first meal I had in town. 

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

People are surprised by the fact that I can rent & fly an airplane in Hawaii and do an island-hop myself. 

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

Light Switch by Charlie Puth because it’s the most played song on the radio lately.

Where is your dream vacation? 

Home where my Mom cooks for me.

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

On the tennis court.

The Value of Spanish Studies at PUC

Terah Ramos is a senior studying for a BA in Spanish Studies and a BBA in Marketing. When she first came to PUC as a freshman, she was a biology major, but that all changed when she found out about the study abroad program Adventist College Abroad (ACA). On a whim, Terah decided to study a year abroad in Spain and take that opportunity to learn Spanish Studies and found it practical because everything she’d learn could apply to her chosen career path later on. 

Terah generously answered some questions for us to learn more about PUC’s World Languages program. 

What do you like about the program?

I love my professors. They are extremely dedicated and profoundly knowledgeable. Not only are they good at what they do, but they are also very helpful and caring. I know people who just visit the professors in the World Languages and Cultures department just to have a chat. It’s easy to tell that the professors are passionate about their jobs and want you to succeed.

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

(1) Learning a language is one of the most rewarding things you can do – the idea that you are able to communicate with an entire group of people you would not be able to understand/converse with otherwise. I love speaking to people in Spanish and seeing their faces light up because it means that I’ve taken extra effort to understand them.

(2) Language is closely tied with culture – it’s impossible to learn a language without understanding the cultures that speak it. As with every language, Spanish is full of colloquialisms. For example, “Aguas!” is a slang phrase commonly used in Mexico – essentially meaning “look out!” in English. The term stems from the time period before modern sewage treatments in Mexico when people would shout a warning (“Aguas!”) before throwing their dirty water out the window. Mexico has a ton of cool slang phrases like these, which kind of give you an understanding of the history and humor of the culture that make it into a widely used modern language. This is just an example from Mexico, but there are unique sayings that differ with each Spanish-speaking country!

What class have you enjoyed the most, and why?

My favorite class was definitely Advanced Language Studies taught by Professor Gregorutti. I’m really interested in Linguistics, so this class constantly blew my mind. We learned about language acquisition – how humans are able to become aware of and understand language. It was so insightful and philosophical!

Can you give any advice to high school students who are interested in pursuing a major in World Languages? What should they expect or prepare for?

If you’re planning to pursue a Spanish Studies or another World Languages major, you’re likely going to spend a year abroad. It’s very important to stay open-minded, embrace mistakes, and become accustomed to discomfort. It is more than worth it!

Why would you recommend this program?

I would recommend this program because of its practicality. When paired with another major (which is doable and even encouraged!), a language major not only prepares students for communicating in the workforce but everyday life as well. I feel that other majors may not be as applicable or usable in the real world as instantly as a language major.

Can you share any advice with students interested in your major?

Practice what you’ve learned as often as you can – find someone you can talk to in your target language/share the information you’ve learned in class. It doesn’t hurt to supplement this major with a minor or perhaps even another major, and most importantly – keep an open mind!

Visit our website to learn more about the Department of World Languages. Our admissions counselors can answer any questions you have. Call (800) 862-7080, option 2, or email admissions@puc.edu to speak with one of our team members to see what the world languages program can offer you. 

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. 

Alumni Profile: Marnie Breckenridge, Performing Thoughts, Hopes, & Dreams

Marnie Breckenridge is an internationally acclaimed soprano from St. Helena. Growing up, she loved singing and was a natural performer, and her teachers throughout high school and college told her that she could do this professionally. While attending PUC, Marnie majored in music and performed solo many times for vespers and church, which helped her understand what it takes to perform. Since graduating in 1993 with a BS in music, she has been traveling the world working in opera and theatre, performing at Carnegie Hall, and winning the prestige’s San Francisco Conservatory of Music Alumni of the Year award in 2013.

Tell us about being an internationally acclaimed soprano. What do you enjoy most about what you do? What’s the most challenging? 

There’s something truly exhilarating to me about embodying a character in an opera or theatre work— singing their thoughts, hopes, and dreams — being an advocate and vessel for the music as well as for the journey of the specific character and the overall gestalt of the opera — it really floats my boat! When I’m on stage, in costume, making LIVE music with a huge group of people within the machine (takes so many people to make it happen – from costumers, makeup designers, set designers, director, lights, orchestra, conductor, other singers, etc.) it feels as if we, together, can stop time and offer insights on how to change the world with our intentions and vibrations for that moment/hour/performance time. I believe in theatre as a way to enlighten us and awaken us to the many and varied ways in which we can evolve to be better, more empathetic, and loving humans.

I also truly enjoy traveling and seeing the world…but only for about 3 days solo (having my thoughts to myself (silence) and sleeping in — skipping the 6:30 AM wake up and carpooling to school). But after a little time alone to get the lay of the land in the new city, I miss my husband (Alex) and two children (Gus, 12, and Alexa 10) way too much. The biggest downside to traveling and being away for long periods of time is the loneliness. However, when the kids aren’t in school and have a moment to join me, there are many wonderful educational experiences for them to soak up.

What inspired you to become a singer?

I’m not sure exactly what inspired me to become a singer. I think I have just always been one. Like it’s just who I am. Marnie the singer. My parents tell me that I was always singing. I used to line my stuffed animals up in my bedroom as a 7-year-old and sing to them for hours and hours. I would make up stories and sing those stories to them….tears streaming down my face in dramatically imaginative moments and all. I wanted to be “the next Barbra Streisand” when I grew up. Haha! But as I went to PAJA (Pomona Adventist Junior Academy) then MBA (Monterey Bay Academy) then PUC – my dear teachers always encouraged me to sing solos…and a few of them here and there even said little things like, ‘you could do this professionally’, etc. But instead of Contemporary Christian or Broadway, I leaned more towards Classical as I came from the liturgical world of singing in church. Mom was an organist and also sang (beautiful mezzo-soprano voice). Also, my mom’s cousins (a few times removed) were the Hooper family as well as Maurita Phillips Thornburgh. Wayne Hooper wrote such beautiful songs. Maurita sang a lot of his music. She inspired me to think about classical singing as that was the style she had mastered so beautifully. And I was more moved and got more goosebumps while listening to classical music and opera, so that’s the direction I went. I had studied pre-med for like 5 minutes my freshman year then realized quickly I needed to succumb to my own natural talents and leave o-chem, phlebotomy, and biology tests to someone else.

You’ve performed at Carnegie Hall. Can you share with us what that experience was like? 

Carnegie is a great hall. The acoustics are just splendid. Easy place to stand and express knowing the sound will carry in that perfectly reverberant place. When I was a sophomore at PUC, our Pro Musica group sang in a large choir (with other schools) at Carnegie Hall in John Rutter’s “Requiem”. I remember sitting in the audience while another choir was rehearsing, and I said to myself, “I’m going to sing solo in this hall someday”. When it finally happened, it was for the soprano solos in Mozart’s “Coronation Mass”, and mostly it was a really fun experience. I got the new gown, did the hair and nails, took cheeky photos in front of my dressing room with my name on the door…the whole deal. But a funny thing happened- in that the conductor forgot I had a long cadenza (a florid addition to the end of a phrase) towards the end of my first aria, and he just sped on through to the next music as I was singing my cadenza! I had to stop singing it mid-vowel and jump to the new spot in the score. My heart SANK in at moment. Here I was making my Carnegie Hall debut, and the conductor jumped on my line! He made it look like I messed up! It was so sad! So I just kept going — which has been my motto: JUST KEEP SWIMMING (thanks, Dory). But let’s face it, Carnegie Hall is just a HALL. We assign so much ego attachment to things. Yes, I am a professional, and I “deserve” to sing in big important HALLS throughout the world. But would I be any less of a pro singer and actor had I not sung there? Consider, if you will, all of the amazing people who never get to sing in Carnegie or Davies Symphony Hall or at the Metropolitan Opera but they deserve to! It is a numbers game for sure. It’s who you know/where you are in that moment, etc. I only say all of this because although it did feel special to sing at Carnegie, and I’m happy that my life goal came to fruition, I’ve actually had much more artfully fulfilling experiences in little churches at the end of dirt roads, out under the stars by a campfire, or in a teeny theatre with no budget to pay their singers, etc. than at that big important hall. Were those other experiences any less important? I don’t think so.

What opera have you enjoyed the most performing? 

My most performed operas are Cunegonde in “Candide” (Based on the Voltaire) and Lucia di Lammermoor. Both have special places in my heart. They are challenging to sing, and both tell interesting stories about young women who were subjected to their ‘lot in life’ without choice. Cunegonde experiences every embarrassing and belittling thing in life yet emerges on the other side a more wholesome and evolved human. Lucia di Lammermoor is forced to marry a man she doesn’t love so the insanity of it all drives her to murder him then she dies immediately afterward — not before the townsfolk and her family realize they should’ve been nicer to her. 

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

We had great fun singing all types of songs and styles of music in Pro Musica with Dr. Jim Kempster and even performed a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, “Trial By Jury”, while I was there. The many times I was able to get up in front of the whole school to perform solo for vespers or church really helped me get a strong foothold in understanding what all it takes to perform. I was also fortunate enough to be able to tour with Dr. Leroy Peterson and a string quartet to Norway and Sweden (which included current PUC orchestra conductor Rachelle Berthelsen Davis).

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

I enjoyed just about everything about PUC. What fun years those were. The combination of independence driving myself around in a car in the gorgeous Napa Valley filled with fantastic friends having hilarious adventures with a home base of an excellent institution of higher learning whose teachers were supportive, kind, and encouraging? That’s what I would call an exquisite combo!

What are your hobbies? 

For many years, I have said, “I don’t have any hobbies” because I truly didn’t have time to! With everything I had to learn about how to be an opera singer, it felt like I was continuously reading books on opera, studying languages (Italian, French, German), memorizing the next pieces, etc. My hobby was STUDYING! But now, I like to include attending my children’s sports/theatre performances, hiking, ballet barre workouts, interior design/decorating, letter writing, and practicing calligraphy as hobbies! 

Faces of PUC: Alexis Jenna Torres 

Alexis Jenna Torres is a nursing student from Vallejo. She dreams of becoming a pediatric nurse because she loves working with children and seeing them grow into their full potential. Her favorite thing about being a Pioneer is how supportive and caring the community is, which makes Alexis a great fit at PUC because she has such a caring heart. 

What is your dream job? 

My dream job is to be a pediatric nurse. I grew up with many siblings, and I am the oldest, so I’ve had a lot of experience with kids. Throughout high school, I’ve taken classes that allowed me to gain more experience working with children and, I fell in love with the idea ever since. My favorite thing about working with children is seeing how they can grow to their full potential and being able to build a close connection with them. I hope to bring light into my patients’ day and give them a reason to smile!

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

When I was younger, I actually wanted to be a teacher but, with more background on that, I realized it wasn’t quite for me.

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

When I first attended PUC, people were so welcoming and friendly on campus. The staff was so helpful, but even the students were easy to talk to and get along with. My favorite thing about being a part of the Pioneers family is that I love how everyone supports and cares for each other. I now count PUC as my second home. 

Where is your favorite place in the world? 

My favorite place to travel to is Hawaii, specifically Oahu. I love tropical destinations because the weather is always beautiful. It is lively no matter where you go there, and there’s so much to do! Usually, I go to the beaches, but other than that, my family and I go to a Luau which hosts shows like hula/Tahitian dancing. They also provide great food. 

What show are you bingeing these days? 

I am currently watching a comedy show called New Girl, but I would recommend Grey’s Anatomy! 

What is something you’re passionate about?

Something I am passionate about is being close with family and spending quality time with them. The most important thing in the world to me is family. My family has always been my biggest supporters, and they’ve always shown me so much love. They helped shape me into the person I am today. Without them, I would not be me. 

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

Lately, I’ve been going to San Francisco. There’s always plenty of things to do there, whether it’s actual activity places or even sight-seeing places. If you’re a foodie like me, I recommend trying Korean corn dogs at this new restaurant called Stix! A really good picture spot would be the Conservatory of Flowers also.