Tag Archives: college life

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! 

The Women’s Volleyball Team Shows Pioneers Spirit

By Richie Silie 

Times are difficult and that is a fact. But even in the midst of a global pandemic, our student athletes are finding ways to be good “teammates” to our surrounding communities. 

Members of our women’s volleyball team made the decision to volunteer at the COVID-19 testing site in Yountville, Calif. These ladies didn’t just help at the mobile clinic, they also passed out food, toiletries, and various personal health items to families in need. Overcoming challenges and working as a team are part of an athlete’s everyday life so it was no surprise to see the selflessness of our Pioneers. These incredible young people lead our athletics department by shining their light “all around the neighborhood.” 

The #PUCPioneersNation has really stepped up and shown they are proudly part of the larger Napa Valley community. Though we are more than ready to have all our students back on campus and regain a sense of normalcy, we are blessed to give back in as many ways as possible because that IS the Pioneers way! 

Follow us on Instagram at @pucpioneers!

PUC’s Department of Nursing Redefines the Clinical Experience for Students

The nursing profession as a whole is fundamentally about patient care so when teaching nursing students, interacting with patients is of the utmost importance. In the spring, when Napa County received shelter-in-place orders, the typical clinical experiences for PUC nursing students needed to be reimagined. 

Professor of nursing Tamara Tirado found an alternative to the norm: virtual clinical experiences that focus on real-life nursing issues and experiences. “It has been both exciting and challenging for students to learn how to navigate their critical thinking skills in the online environment,” Tirado explains. “Being able to integrate virtual experiences in our courses has helped us to overcome the obstacles brought on during this challenging time and still meet the learning needs of our students.”

Learn more about the department of nursing at puc.edu/academics. Our team of admissions counselors can answer any questions you have about the programs, or 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!

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!

Alumni Stories: Working Through A Pandemic

We have been living through this pandemic since March which means the last eight months of our lives have been very strange! We have been dealing with virtual learning, working remote, wearing masks, physical distancing, and finding new ways to communicate and socialize. We decided to reach out to some of our alums to find out how things have been going for them.

Larissa Church graduated from PUC in 2008 with degrees in History and English. She worked for PUC for many years as an admissions counselor and as the director of public relations. After years of volunteer work, she decided to pursue her passion for helping animals, full-time. We asked Larissa how her ner job was going and how COVID-19 had changed life at an animal rescue.

I’m the communications manager at House Rabbit Society in Richmond, Calif. I manage donor relations, fundraising campaigns, and social media. I’m also the editor of our biannual magazine, the House Rabbit Journal. I started in late summer 2019, and to say my first year has been a whirlwind is an understatement!

I was fortunate enough to already be working from home a week before the state’s shelter-in-place order came in back in March. My work had the foresight to close early.

Like every industry, COVID-19 has significantly impacted the animal rescue and sheltering industry. We’re also facing a second virus, specific to rabbits, called Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV). For the first time, it’s spreading in North America in both wild and domestic rabbits. At HRS, we’ve had to change everything because of both viruses. We’re now indefinitely closed to the public. We shut down our boarding services and are no longer offering grooming services, like nail trims. Our adoption process has moved completely online, with adoption counseling done over Zoom and a contactless curbside pickup. I have an app on my phone that makes it look as though I’m calling someone from HRS when in reality I’m sitting on my sofa at home!

Since the pandemic started, we’ve had an increase in adoptions and foster applications, which has been amazing to see. Our donors have been very generous too, despite everything going on right now. In July, we had a successful matching campaign where we $20,000 in just four days! It’s strange to realize I have now worked more remotely for HRS than I did actually in the office and I’ll be remote for the foreseeable future. It’s been difficult to navigate this new normal, both personally and professionally, but I’m so grateful to be working for an organization and a cause I deeply care about. I can’t imagine being anywhere else!

For more information or just to see cute bunny pics, follow HRS on Instagram at @houserabbitsociety.

Larissa and Craig Church adopted Pepper, this sassy queen, from House Rabbit Society on Nov. 9, 2019.

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. 

Highlighting Biology With Aimee Wyrick

PUC’s department of biology is well known for a rigorous lineup of classes. While the majority of biology students continue on to medical, dental, and veterinary schools there are other focuses as well. The department often ventures out of the classrooms utilizing our great location giving students the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways, while also allowing the professors to get to know their students better.

To give you more insight into the great community within this department, Aimee Wyrick, Chair and Associate Professor of Biology, gladly answered some questions for us. 

What is your favorite thing about teaching in your department?

My students and colleagues! I am blessed to work with a great team and I get to teach really interesting and fun classes. 

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

Biology is part of an amazing network on our campus and so, at our core, we are all #onePUC. However, our department is unique (beyond the obvious) in that the curriculum we teach has tangible real-world applications. We also have a lot of hands-on opportunities that range from activities in Clark Hall labs to local and distant field trips. 

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

As a small college, the professors have a genuine interest in student success. Biology classes aren’t easy but the faculty are here to provide support, guidance, and mentorship. Faculty support of our students builds their confidence and helps them to develop the ever-important “soft skills” alongside the critical knowledge for whatever career a student pursues. We also have a very successful peer mentorship program – the BIOneers – that partners new students with returning students.  

What are some cool things your department is doing? 

Of course, much of our “normal” operations are on hold right now but we look forward to having students back on campus soon and continuing with the following: Most Biology faculty have active research programs and provide opportunities for any student that is interested and eligible to participate in undergraduate research experiences. Our department sponsors frequent domestic and international field biology courses and research trips (Alaska, Brazilian Amazon, Honduras, Fiji, Micronesia, Mexico, and Kenya). Many of our classes utilize the PUC forest, Howell Mountain Farm, and Albion Field Station for field biology opportunities (and research) 

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

Where do I start? Most recently we learned one of our graduates (class of 2009) was just named an Assistant Professor of Pathology at LLU School of Medicine. Another graduate (2012) is working on a Ph.D. at UCSB in the areas of Spatial Ecology, Remote Sensing, Land-use Change, and Deforestation. Yet another graduate (2015) is an entomologist earning a Ph.D. at Utah State University. And a recent graduate (2020) starts her first year at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University. We have so many accomplished alumni and it’s too bad I can’t tell you what they’re all doing! They make us proud and we cherish the memories of their time in Clark Hall. 

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

We are well known for our pre-professional program preparation. A majority of our majors continue to medical, dental, or veterinary school. Though our graduates are blessed to have a variety of excellent teachers across campus, the science faculty prepare students for the rigors of medical and dental school. We have a number of classes that are specifically tailored to the pre-professional student (e.g., histology and advanced human anatomy) that our graduate’s report is professional-school level. 

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

We have a focus on building community in the department of biology and being part of the BIOneer Mentorship Program is a must-do for new students. New students can look forward to meeting and getting to know a bunch of cool people (including the Bio professors) and getting to know the nooks and crannies of Clark Hall. A new student shouldn’t be surprised to meet (and learn) the names of our reptile menagerie, like Fred the Burmese python. 

This is Fred!

For more information about the department of biology or any of our other academic programs visit our website

Remote Learning Etiquette

By: Ally Romanes

We’ve all learned a lot about remote learning the past few months which is great since many of us will continue with it this fall. Here are some great tips for proper online learning etiquette from a PUC student!

Look Presentable 

Even though you’re at home, you should still consider how you present yourself to your professors and classmates. If your video is on, run a brush through your hair, wear appropriate clothing, and pay attention. If you will just be using auido, it’s still a good idea to get ready and dressed every morning to help keep you in a routine.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings 

Make sure there is nothing behind you that will be distracting to others and yourself. This could be other people, pets, or things in your room like a pile of messy clothes. Find a quiet, well lit place that will keep you focused in class and far away from distractions. 

Mute Yourself!

Once you log in to the virtual classroom, make sure to mute yourself. Most of the professors ask students ahead of time to mute, but there will still be some people who forget and end up having noise in the background that disrupts the class. 

Don’t Interrupt 

If you have a question during a lecture, don’t talk over your professor. Either type it in the chatbox or wait until the professor is ready for questions. Some professors don’t mind students asking questions during the lecture, but it’s best if you wait until they are finished. 

Respond Back 

When your professors ask you to respond to questions, please do. Whether they want you to speak up, respond in the chatbox, or give a thumbs up/down, make sure you respond to them. 

Remember, taking online classes isn’t just a learning process for you, but also your professors. They are working hard to give you the best remote learning experience. If you have any questions, concerns, or difficulties with your classes, do not hesitate to email your professor. These are challenging times but we are all in this together. 

A Letter From PUC’s SA President

Hello PUC,

Hi everyone! My name is Lewis Govea, this years’ PUC Student Association President. I am a senior music major looking to attend pharmacy school in the future. My PUC journey started fall of 2017 when I came to PUC as an aspiring biochemistry major. My efforts to power through my chosen major were thwarted by passion and the desire to be as well rounded as possible, so I switched my major to music with voice being my primary instrument.

My passion for music began very early. I have been in choirs and plays my entire academic life and have continued to grow as a musician. My musical experience ingrained within me the value of teamwork, so I continue to seek out groups that work together for a common goal. This desire, to be a part of something larger than myself, is what drew me to student government. I joined PUC’s Student Association fall of 2019 as the Social Vice President, where I took my skills as a team player and refined them into being the skills of a team leader. I found leadership to be one of my core characteristics. I planned fun events, like Bob Ross Paint Night and a concert where I invited The Voice alum Jej Vinson to sing. I felt like I was making an impact on campus, but I also felt limited to the social lives of PUC students rather than being someone who could affect actual changes to campus life and culture. This is what made me run for president.

School is starting and it might feel like there is no end in sight to this pandemic. I can already sense the walls of my bedroom pressing inwards, but I still don’t give up hope. Hope for better days and for when I can see the kind and loving faces of my friends again. If I begin to feel stagnate, I will push myself to fight for a cause. That cause will be to do everything in my power to make everyone connect to a community that loves them and will support them through these difficult times. This quarantine has been tough, and nobody expects you to just pick up where you left off. Heal. Rest. PUC SA is doing the work to make those dreams a reality. 

Until we meet again,

Lewis Govea

SA President

Tips For A Successful First Year

Today is the first day of classes and if you’re a freshman, EVERYTHING is new. We hope you’re excited but in case things feel a little overwhelming, here are some simple tips to help make this year a successful one. 

Go To Class 

This isn’t high school, no one is going to make you attend your classes, and skipping your early morning lectures for some much-needed sleep might sound like a great idea but you know what? Go to your classes. You’re here for a reason, to learn! 

Meet Your Professors

Your professors want to get to know you so introduce yourself. You will make a good first impression and if you need help in the class, they’ll already know who you are. A great thing about PUC is most of your classes are small so you’ll have lots of opportunities to get to know your professors better. We know taking classes remotely can make this a bit difficult but definitley try anyway! Send emails or schedule some time to video chat. 

Don’t Use Your Phone During Class

It’s as simple as that. It’s a bad look if you’re on your phone while your professor is teaching. Even if your professor doesn’t have rules about phones being out, it’s still good not to be on it during class, EVEN if they can’t tell you’re using it! 

Take Notes 

It’s essential to take notes during class so you remember what you learned. Your professors will be throwing a lot of information at you, so keeping notes will help you stay on track and prepare for tests. Find some classmates to share notes and study with.

Use Google Drive 

Google Drive is a great way to keep your files backed up. From writing your notes and papers in Google Docs to doing group assignments, Google Drive will help keep all your files safe in one place. Plus, it’s free! 

Eat Well 

Eat well so you can feel well. College requires a lot of energy so make sure to add vegetables and fruits into your meals every day. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and stray away from energy drinks. 

Have Good Communication With Your Roommate (if you’re on campus)

Whether your roommate is someone you already know or a match your dean made, you need to make sure you have good communication. Living with someone can be tricky so be sure you allow open communication so you can live peacefully. 

Network 

Try to get to know the people in your department, even the faculty. Not only will this make your years at PUC better, but it will also help when you need to find a job or internship. The more people you know, the bigger your network will be. 

Keep Your Social Media Clean

Speaking of networking, you should always think about keeping your social media clean. When you start applying for jobs, employers might examine your social media accounts to get a glimpse of who you are. From Facebook to Instagram, they will see what you post, share, and are tagged in. Make sure your platforms reflect the kind of person you want to be.

Check out our social media tips for more information. 

Take Care of Yourself 

It’s very important that you take care of yourself. Besides eating well, get enough sleep and exercise. To do your very best, you must take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually. Remember, you’re not alone! If you’re struggling, reach out to your RA, a dean, a faculty, or some friends. 

Happy first day of classes!