Communication

Communication

The department of communication offers instruction in a variety of communication skills and principles that apply to mass media, public speaking, social media, small group, and interpersonal settings. Students are prepared for a variety of careers in one of America’s most dynamic fields.

Fast Facts

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Nearly 100 percent of PUC's communication majors who have applied to law schools have been accepted.

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Students conduct exciting research. In 2013, PUC students took the top two of four awards in the Lambda Pi Eta division of the National Communication Association convention.

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The B.A. in international communication includes a year of study abroad.

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A unique four-year degree in health communication prepares students for medical, dental, or pharmacy school.

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Communication is one of the top five departments at PUC in terms of the number of yearly graduates.

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Senior Seminar course prepares students for the job market by walking them through the process of building a resume and professional portfolio and preparation for professional interviews.

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Communication majors can gain entrance into a variety of graduate programs, including law, medicine, public relations, and M.B.A. programs.

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An internship is required as part of the coursework to provide real-world experience, with an internship coordinator who assists in the process.

Alum Lisa Breckenridge Enjoys Entertainment Journalism with Fox 11

Lisa Breckenridge

Lisa Breckenridge interviews celebrities for a living, on television, in the largest media market in the United States. She is entertainment and lifestyle anchor for Fox Los Angeles’s 11 Morning News, the Fox 11 News at 10 a.m., and the Fox 11 News at Noon and occasional stand-in for the anchors of these shows as well as the hugely popular Los Angeles morning show Good Day LA. It’s a pretty heady job for someone who claims she was the boring kid at PUC.

“I was the kid who never wanted to get into trouble!” she says, laughing. “I was the one who was always in bed by eight o’clock.”

Her only shenanigan, she says, was during her 1986 campaign for Student Association Social Vice President, when she dropped her skirt onstage as part of a skit about not resorting to sensational gimmicks to win the election.

She’s come a long way since then. There have been no recorded “wardrobe malfunctions” at any of her jobs on live television. She has also stepped into a life that could be described as a little less boring. “Whether I am on the red carpet getting a kiss from George Clooney or sitting across from Sarah Jessica Parker, it’s all fun,” she says.

Lisa graduated from PUC in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. As many college graduates discover immediately after finishing their degree, she found that she didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do. “I was going to go a different route,” she says, “and all of the sudden I realized that [journalism] was always something I had been interested in.”

After talking to her former professor, then-communication department chair James Chase, she decided to pursue journalism in earnest. He advised her on how she might get into the business. Her first step was an internship at KFTY TV in Santa Rosa. “I think I had maybe one or two days where they’d let me go out and report,” she says. She also took a summer program at Stanford University’s Mass Media Institute of Broadcast Journalism.

“I was going to go a different route and all of the sudden I realized that journalism was always something I had been interested in.”

Having grown up in Lodi, she had watched Sacramento’s KCRA channel 3 as a kid. After finishing at Stanford and doing reporting stints in Yuma and Reno, she came home to anchor the morning news on the station she had grown up watching. “My whole dream was to go to Sacramento to work at KCRA,” she says. “Once I got that I really felt like the goal had been achieved.”

She reported hard news—floods, earthquakes. She covered the Polly Klaas murder and trial. She served as an official state witness to an execution. One of the most difficult stories she ever reported was when a drunk driver killed a high-school student. “I remember knocking on that family’s door and asking if I could talk to them, and having to prepare the story for that night,” she tells me. “What was weird was to look back at my life more than a decade ago and realize just how painful those days could be when you were really watching the breakup of a family and the destruction of a life.”

So when she got the job as entertainment and lifestyle anchor at KTTV in Los Angeles, it provided a much-needed break from the crush of the bad news she had to report every day in Sacramento. “They created this position for me, which was really wonderful,” she says. “It’s fun! It doesn’t even seem like work.”

Some journalists in this situation may have qualms about switching from hard news to entertainment journalism. Lisa has a far different take. “The one thing that is nice for me now is not having to knock on someone’s door who has just lost a loved one,” she replies. “I’m doing lighter news now; it’s like being in the toy department. I get to have fun.”

Anyone who has seen a broadcast of Good Day LA knows what she means. The show is renowned for its informal style and easy banter. “A lot of the times you know how we feel about things!” she says. “We do try and be unbiased, when need be, but on the lighter stuff, we figure people like our station because we have fun when we can have fun. I think our personalities do present in our stories probably more than what I ever learned they should.”

The topics and format of her work at KTTV are also conducive to her other important role: mom to a set of four-year-old twins. “I have the perfect mom job in that I am done by noon,” she says of morning show work. “I’m there to pick them up every day at 3:30 and I’m there with them all afternoon. And when I’m there I’m one hundred percent their mom. The good thing about my job is that once I leave the station, it’s done.”

Not everyone has an opportunity to find their dream job, but this “boring” PUC student seems to be one of those lucky few. “As long as they’ll let a 44-year-old woman be on TV in LA, I’ll be here,” Lisa laughs. “It’s more than I could ever hope for.”

A Law Career, From Court to Court: Brittany Cheney

Brittany Cheney

Brittany Cheney’s law career began on the Pacific Union College basketball court. “To do well in law, you have to be competitive,” says the ‘07 alumna. “It’s the same thing with basketball."

Brittany graduated at the top of her UC Davis School of Law Class of 2012, and was awarded the Law School Medal for academic achievement. After a successful internship with Downey Brand, the largest law firm in Sacramento, Calif., she was hired as an associate attorney in Downey’s family law practice.

While at PUC, Brittany was a member of PUC’s Lady Pioneers. The team’s games and practices taught her athletic skills…and persistence. Even when the team didn’t win a game, says Brittany, “we didn’t quit.” As a summa cum laude graduate of PUC, Brittany was also dedicated to her studies as an international communication major with an emphasis in Spanish and a business minor. Brittany also managed a complex fundraising campaign in the college’s Alumni and Advancement Office, raising $25,000—above the drive’s original goal.

After graduating, Brittany worked for two years in fundraising, advertising and other positions before deciding to attend University of California, Davis. The academic break gave her work experience that helped prevent burnout during law school. “Two years was long enough to want to go back to school. I was ready to give it three more years,” says Brittany.

Her basketball skills travelled with her to UC Davis, where playing the sport helped her remain balanced. The lessons she learned on the court still applied to her life as a law student. “Law school was really hard, and I didn’t always feel like I was doing well…but I’d been through tough things before, and felt I like wanted to keep going,” remembers Brittany.

“To be competitive in law, you have to be good writer. You have to be succinct, and get your point across quickly, or you lose your reader.”

During her first summer in law school she worked in the legal research department of Sacramento Superior Court. And before her third year, Brittany was also going to court. With the Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic, which gives legal aid to low-income domestic violence victims, Brittany represented actual clients in family law proceedings. She was one of only a few law students who spoke Spanish, thanks to time in Spain with Adventist Colleges Abroad, and put her bilingual skills to use. “The interesting miscommunications gave [clients and I] something to laugh about,” Brittany remembers.

Taking Sabbath off gave Brittany the rest she needed to succeed during the other six days of the week. Dedicated to her three-year law student career, she was surprised to find that she would graduate at the top of her class. In her commencement address to an audience of over 1,400, Brittany encouraged her peers not to “forget where you came from, or who helped you get to where you are in life, and don't forget to acknowledge their contributions." She added, "It will keep you humble and grateful for your life." 

Brittany credits her PUC English 101 classes from Dr. Marilyn Glaim for Brittany’s great start in college. Learning excellent writing skills prepared her to be a lawyer, before she began to seriously consider law as a career. “To be competitive in law, you have to be good writer. You have to be succinct, and get your point across quickly, or you lose your reader,” she points out.

Upper-division classes from journalism professor Lynne Thew were also “incredibly important,” adds Brittany. She practiced paying attention to details, because others would, too. “Be accurate in your grammar and spelling, the things people gloss over and don’t pay attention to. Work hard not to have mistakes in writing, so that you can be taken seriously,” says Brittany.

Now Brittany tells students interested in law, “You’re not just going to earn a degree; you’re going to enter a profession.” A law degree “gives you a boost into all sorts of jobs,” and is also a significant responsibility and investment of time and finances. Brittany suggests that students “get as much as experience as possible with research and writing; they’re the two most important things” for a law degree.

In a high rise-building overlooking Sacramento’s Capitol, Brittany is writing at a new professional level. She’s bringing her PUC Pioneer persistence to a different court — but putting the same Covered Wagon spirit to work as Downey Brand's newest associate attorney.

Aren Rennacker: Athlete, Scholar, and Servant

Aren Rennacker

Every so often, a student comes into a school with extraordinary talent and makes it difficult for his professors and peers to say goodbye. This year, Pacific Union College graduated a particularly outstanding student whose excellence in athletics, academics, and service has made him a virtual superman on campus.

So when Aren Rennacker was named the 2011 California Pacific Conference (Cal Pac) Male Scholar Athlete of the Year, no one on campus blinked twice.

Cal Pac Commissioner Don Ott said, "To say that I am impressed with all the nominees is a tremendous understatement. Moreover, the two individuals we are honoring have accomplished the incredible academically, athletically, and personally. They all represent the finest traits of Champions of Character, and we look forward to seeing how they continue to impact our society."

I wasn’t willing to sacrifice grades, basketball, or any of my commitments of service. So I prayed about it a lot, and God worked a lot of things out.”

The honor is given to a student athlete who has completed their four years of athletic eligibility, displayed excellence in the classroom, exhibited the five core values of the Champions of Characters initiative, been a significant contributor to his or her own team, and has been involved in the community and on campus.

Rennacker’s achievements are numerous. He just graduated summa cum laude from PUC with a degree in public relations, was named “Major of the Year” by the communication department, and was awarded the “Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges” award.

During his four years at PUC, Rennacker did everything humanly possible to better himself in his college experience. On top of being a star athlete, an accomplished student, and a head resident assistant for Grainger Hall, Rennacker found time to lead KidzReach, a campus ministry where students volunteer on a weekly basis to serve as mentors to high-risk children and teens. “I wasn’t willing to sacrifice grades, basketball, or any of my commitments of service,” Rennacker says, who participated in the ministry for three years. “So I prayed about it a lot, and God worked a lot of things out.”

This focus on stewardship led Rennacker to accept a position as a youth pastor at the Oceanside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Southern California, where he seeks to form a “strong, solid, consistent” youth group. The twenty-one-year-old will not be much older than his constituents—a fact for which his solution is to “grow a huge beard so I look really old!”

Though for most of his life Rennacker dreamed of pursuing a career in sports writing, he realized after his second year of high school that he had a much greater desire to do ministry. So when Oceanside Adventist Church approached him about possibly joining their pastoral staff, Rennacker was immediately on board. “High school was when I grew most with Christ, and I know that is a pivotal time in everybody’s spiritual journey,” says Rennacker.  “So I certainly liked the idea of helping others do the same.”

Rennacker, who was raised in Sacramento, Calif., says that the move will take a lot of adjusting. Going from being a full-time student to living on his own and paying bills as a full-time pastor in a strange new city is not an easy transition to make, even for someone like him. Rennacker points out that while everyone in Oceanside loves surfing, the “NorCal boy” is not a beach person. “All the kids love it down there, and I’m coming in, as pale as you can imagine,” he jokes. “I’ll learn to love it soon enough.”

As Rennacker follows his call to ministry, he steps up to the challenge of guiding young people to Christ—a task that is trying and often discouraging. While he understands the difficulties that may lie ahead, Rennacker has faith that God will lead him through it all. “I see the incredible impact God has had in my life—literally all of my successes are traced back to finding Him,” he says. “I know how faithful He will always be to me.”