Tag Archives: teaching

To the Pioneers, With Love

A sincere love letter to the students of PUC from a guest lecturer
By Patrick Vogelpohl

In 2009, I drove a dying Honda Civic up Howell Mountain Road to teach my first class at Pacific Union College. I was a former real estate marketing manager and a freelance writer. I lived in a demanding marketplace filled with unforgiving bottom lines and deadlines.

But my first son was about to be born. My wife and I needed the money. Michelle Rai, the chair of the communication department and now a dear friend, needed someone to teach newswriting at the last minute. She took me to a classroom on the first floor of Irwin Hall, introduced me to about 25 young adults, and then left the room. The students and I smiled at each other for a few seconds until I began to lecture.

Strange things began to happen right away.

As I talked, the students paid attention. They took notes. They smiled at me some more. If they talked to classmates, it was about newswriting. At the end of class, some asked me questions about my lecture. Others simply welcomed me to the college. I thought I was being punk’d, but I wasn’t. These students were friendly and sincere. It was, for lack of a better word, weird.

I drove down Howell Mountain Road and thought, “That was the most pleasant work experience I have ever had.” So I kept going back. I eventually served as an assistant professor of communication. I even taught in the English Department. I became co-director of Publication Workshop and was an advisor for the Campus Chronicle. I got to introduce Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder at Colloquy. Currently, I’m serving as a guest lecturer in a public relations course.

Vogelpohl, center, surrounded by four of his most attractive students. Note their dewy skin.

Vogelpohl, center, surrounded by four of his most attractive students. Note their dewy skin.

In my time on the hill, I’ve learned a few things about PUC’s exceptional students. If you are an incoming freshman, here’s what you should know about your peers:

1. PUC students are active members of the Adventist church. Some are conservative Adventists. Some are liberal. Most students, however, regularly tend to their relationships with God. They go to (and enjoy) church on Saturday, as well as residence hall worship or other prayer groups. When a PUC student wrestles with her or his faith, their friends still accept them as a fellow child of God.

2. PUC students have fantastic skin. It’s not even fair! Maybe it’s because of the plant-rich diet. Maybe it’s all the rest on the Sabbath. Every PUC graduate could earn a modeling contract based on their skin alone. Could your skin be healthier? Then get up here. By the time you leave, your skin will be best described as “supple” or “visually delicious.”

3. PUC students are serious about learning. The vast majority of students actually attend class. The vast majority does homework. Group work gets done. Are there some slackers on campus? Sure. Do students work harder in some classes than in others? Of course. This a college filled with young adults, not study-bots. But I would argue that slackers don’t last too long at PUC. Why? See #4.

4. PUC students are ridiculously active. They study. Then they play on intramural sports teams. They play instruments. They double-major. They have jobs. They have internships. They learn to play instruments while at their internships. They have terrific conversations in the Dining Commons. They feed the homeless. They take day trips to San Francisco and the beach. If these kids weren’t so friendly and attractive, they would be annoying.

5. PUC students are very good at dating. First, they are friends. Then they attend vespers together. Nine years later, they have two law degrees, three kids, a cocker spaniel named Gary, and a nice house near the beach.

6. PUC students live long lives. I once met an alumnus that was 177 years young.

And finally, PUC students look out for one another. They even look out for their professors. I have had students bring me food and snacks during marathon grading sessions—students that weren’t even in my courses. When my kids have been sick, other students prayed for them without my asking. They just did it. Stuff like this doesn’t happen often in most jobs. But it can absolutely make the worst days seem brighter.

In short, you will go to school with the best people you will ever meet. Get up here. Fast.

Why an Education Major at PUC Worked For Me

Name: Brittany Rasmussen Brittany Rasmussen
From: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Major: Liberal Studies, Dual Credential
Graduated: 2013

I really enjoyed the education program at PUC. By far, the best parts are the labs and student teaching experiences. With an education major, you’re out visiting schools, observing teachers, and even trying out your own lessons right from the beginning, which is awesome! There aren’t too many majors like that. I was honestly scared to death when I went to my first lab (well, and the second one… and the third one… and the first day of student teaching… and the first day in my own classroom…) but I quickly became more comfortable and decided everything would be okay.

When I started college, I wanted to do it all. I was pretty ambitious. Fortunately, I chose education as my major, which is one of those majors that truly allows you to do it all, and the faculty were so supportive of my goals. My first emphasis was elementary education, but I talked with my advisor about adding a secondary credential to my program my junior year. In the end, I graduated with elementary credentials and six junior academy endorsements (which allow me to teach those subject up through tenth grade) and an ESL endorsement. The ESL endorsement is embedded in the California credential program, which is cool because a lot of other states don’t include it in their basic program. I also took the necessary classes so that I can add secondary (9-12) credentials to my certificate when I’m ready.

Last year, I taught 7th and 8th grades at Battle Creek Academy in Michigan. It was so fun and hugely rewarding. I loved it! However, my boyfriend (another PUC Education major) became my fiancé during the school year, so I needed to find a job at a school closer to where he lives. Several interviews later, I was hired as a high school teacher at Grand Rapids Adventist Academy. All those extra endorsements came in handy! I’ll also be taking a community college class and a CLEP test or two this year to add two full secondary endorsements to my certificate. When that’s done, I’ll be able to teach at any grade level, preschool through 12th grade. I’ve got a lot of different ways I can do my favorite thing – teach!

If you’re considering majoring in education, here are some things to consider:

  1. A career in education is pretty flexible – I’m still adding endorsements to my certificate.
  2. The education program at PUC gets you out there practicing your skills right away.
  3. Support is a huge part of the program. The professors are always willing to help.
  4. Everyone is fun and friendly – and who knows, you might meet someone “special”!

You might not be able to ‘do it all’ in college but you can choose a major that lets you do everything you want in a career.