Four Pacific Union College alumni bestowed their wealth of knowledge and advice to the campus community in a special Colloquy program on Thursday, November 16. Dr. Eliazar Alvarez, ’84, Angelica Ramirez Dull, ’82, Scott Wendt, ’85, and Dr. Vaughn Browne, ’85, were the honored presenters for the morning, speaking about how a PUC education helped get them to the successful places they are today.
Dr. Eliazar Alvarez studied chemistry with a biochemistry emphasis at PUC, and went on to graduate from the School of Medicine at Loma Linda University. He has been practicing family medicine for over 20 years, and currently is part of Wheatland Medical Associates in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Alvarez shared his story as an immigrant from Mexico and the obstacles he overcame, and reminisced about his time at PUC. He worked at the front desk for Newton Hall and appreciated the college’s remote location, which he believes encourages students to become closer to one another. He appreciates that at PUC he made friends from all over the world and to this day he remains friends with many of them. “Open yourself to other cultures, you only risk expanding your mind,” Dr. Alvarez encouraged. “Remember in Christ there is no superior nationality. … In Christ, we are all one.” He closed by sharing a poem he had written.
Scott Wendt graduated from PUC with a theology degree and a minor in mathematics. He received his master’s of divinity from Andrews University and pastored for many years at several large congregational churches throughout southern California. After transitioning to teaching, Wendt has taught mathematics for the last 12 years at La Loma Junior High School in Modesto, Calif. He shared how much he appreciated the perspective on diversity PUC gave him and broadened his relationships beyond just his inner circle of family. Wendt shared hilarious anecdotes about seeing his friend Dr. Alvarez randomly through the years in places like the San Diego Zoo and the seminary at Andrews University. “When you’re here at PUC build relationships. Thirty years from now you won’t regret it,” he said.
Angelica Ramirez Dull was an education major at PUC, and also minored in Spanish. She spent a year abroad studying at the Adventist college at Sagunto, which would serve her well as she continued on to earn a master’s in bilingual education from the University of Texas at El Paso. Dull currently teaches Spanish at Kamala High School in Kamala, Wash. She shared her story of coming to PUC despite financial concerns, and is proud that six out of her nine siblings all attended the college. “Truly this is a place where the Holy Spirit is strong,” she said, saying that PUC transformed the direction of each of their lives beyond what they thought was possible. Initially Dull was put into remedial classes, but she challenged herself and succeeded and advanced with the support of the help she received from professors and tutors. She followed in her older sister’s footsteps and became a resident assistant at McReynolds Hall, and appreciated her dean’s support and desire for diversity of culture in the residence halls. Dull notes PUC helped prepare her for her professional career by bestowing her with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. “Out in the professional world, as an educator, it gets brutal at times, but PUC prepared me,” she said. “Thank you so much PUC because it is here I was able to have that peace and that calmness to be able to succeed.”
Dr. Vaughn Browne studied both chemistry and biology at PUC before going on to Loma Linda University, where he earned both an M.D. and Ph.D. in cardiac physiology. In 2003, he became an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where he has taught for the last 14 years. Dr. Browne also serves as the chairman of the admissions committee for the university’s School of Medicine. He talked about how his years at PUC, encouragement from professors, and serving for five years on the Angwin Volunteer Fire Department changed the trajectory of his career and helped shape him as an emergency physician. “PUC gave me the roots, the foundation for my entire professional and personal life. … There are so many ways this place has enriched me,” Dr. Browne said. “All the roots of what I do today began here, and I’m so deeply grateful for that.” He has conducted several research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health and is very active at the University of Colorado, where he works to increase the number of underrepresented students in medicine. “One of the things that I took away from PUC is the vision of the kingdom of God,” he said. “The kingdom of God is a place where people from every race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, cultural heritage, language, religion, socioeconomic background, and historical period are together, in harmonious and constructive relationships centered on valuing our core humanity and celebrating our diversity. Like a garden of beautiful flowers; alive, vibrant, fragrant, watered by the River of Life.”
Following closing prayer, students, faculty, and staff flocked to greet the services’ speakers to thank them for their profound words and to learn more about their accomplishments. Afterwards, junior and senior pre-medicine students attended a special luncheon with Dr. Alvarez and Dr. Browne, allowing them the unique opportunity to discuss college and get insider knowledge about the medical school admissions process.