PUC Welcomes Back Students

By Staff Writer on September 22, 2015

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Summer break is officially over for PUC students. As classes begin, the campus celebrates the commencement of the new school year with the annual Week of Welcome (WOW) celebration. WOW events aim to introduce students to the PUC campus and community and include an exciting mix of academic, social, and spiritual activities.

“We are thrilled about the beginning of a new academic year at Pacific Union College with all of its wondrous possibilities,” said Dr. Heather Knight, PUC’s president. “The Week of Welcome is a very special time for students to experience the warmth and hospitality of the PUC community while having a lot of fun and bonding together.”

Even before the first 8:00 a.m. class commenced Monday morning, members of the campus community mobilized to invite the Lord to bless the new academic year. On Sunday night, individuals gathered in front of Irwin Hall to participate in the annual campus prayer walk. PUC Chaplains Jonathan Henderson and Shantel Smith along with PUC Church Pastor Mark Witas led students, faculty, staff, pastors, church members, and administrators in joint prayers. The group broke into five teams and travelled all over campus, praying for each building, its occupants, and PUC! Robell Nyirendah, Student Association Religious Vice President, closed the evening with another group prayer below the flagpoles.

By Monday morning, the campus came alive as students headed off to their classes. Some stopped to pose for quick selfies with friends they hadn’t seen since June. Ambassadors helped direct new students to Irwin Hall, Davidian Hall, and other buildings, making sure they felt comfortable navigating the campus. PUC t-shirts were seen everywhere, as Pioneers showed off their school spirit.

“I came to PUC because the campus is beautiful and the people are wonderful,” shared Allie Rosenthal, a freshmen business major. “My first day was amazing! The teachers are super awesome!”

Monday evening, students, faculty, staff, and administrators filled the Campus Center courtyard for a picnic of veggie burgers, potato wedges, macaroni salad, and homemade cookies. Campus clubs set up booths to promote activities and sign up new students for membership. The event drew over 1100 people.

“Events like this are what college should be all about,” said Nephtali Marin, a freshman film major. “You get to meet new people, eat, socialize, and see all the clubs. It reminds me that I am part of a family at PUC, not just a student.”

Week of Welcome festivities continue throughout the first week of school, giving students many opportunities to take a break from studying and socialize with one another. On Tuesday night, students will gather in the Pacific Auditorium to cheer on the Pioneers women’s volleyball team as they play Mills College. The event will also be a fundraiser for the Middletown High School athletic department to help replace athletic gear lost in the recent Valley Fire. Community members are invited to attend this event. The Student Association (SA) hosts an ice cream social for students in the Camp Center courtyard following the game.

Pioneers Men’s Soccer hosts a game against La Sierra University at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday. From 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., students will have a unique opportunity to partake in the ultimate Napa Valley experience—a hot air balloon ride above the campus.

On Thursday the entire campus will assemble for Opening Colloquy. Dr. Arnetha F. Ball, Professor of Education and the Co-Director of the Center for the study of Race, Ethnicity and Language (CREAL) at Stanford University, will be the featured speaker. SA hosts Midnight Madness on Thursday night. This annual pep rally launches the fall sports season with team introductions and inducts new students into the Pioneers Posse, PUC’s devoted fan base.

After classes let out on Friday, students can participate in Rebuilding Calistoga, a ministry where students help senior citizens with home repairs and other needs. This annual event is a partnership between PUC’s office of service and missions and Calistoga Affordable Housing. The same afternoon, Pioneers Men’s soccer hosts University of Antelope Valley for another home game beginning at 3:00 p.m.

The week concludes with a number of Sabbath activities. Many departments will host pre-vesper events for their majors. Chaplain Shantel Smith will speak for Friday night vespers and Pastor Mark Witas will preach for church. Following church, PUC Church members host “Food Around the Fountain,” a huge potluck treating students to home cooking and fellowship. During the afternoon, students can participate in Clearlake Homeless Ministries outreach or join a hike in the “Back 40.” The jam-packed week closes with “speed mingling” on Saturday night.

While the goal of WOW is to ease students' transition back to school, the events also have a deeper purpose. “This week of exciting activities provides the momentum for the rest of the school year as students experience a myriad of activities as they study, worship, and serve together,” adds President Knight. PUC is off to a great new year!