2019

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PUC Signs Trail Agreement with Open Spaces District

By Peter Lecourt & Becky St. Clair on August 30, 2019

For years, the trails of Pacific Union College’s forested lands have been known mostly by word of mouth; even locals are sometimes unaware of the college’s 35 miles of recreational trails through more than 850 acres of rich biodiversity and striking beauty.

Now, thanks to a new trail license agreement between PUC and the Napa County Regional Parks and Open Spaces District, PUC’s forest is now open for those who wish to enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding through PUC’s coastal redwoods, Douglas firs, ponderosa pines, oaks, bay laurels, and Madrones. They may even see a rare Napa False Indigo or hear the calls of the threatened Northern Spotted Owl.

This agreement means PUC’s forest will be incorporated into the district’s set of open spaces parks in Napa County.

“Growing into the future, PUC is excited to partner with the Parks and Open Spaces District to the mutual benefit of our organizations,” says Peter Lecourt, forest manager for PUC, “and to the local community who cherish the PUC forest.”

While this license will not change the essential character and unequalled ecological value of PUC’s forest, it does represent a major milestone in both the history and future of the PUC forest.

Last year PUC

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Summer Service: Health Education at the Farmer’s Market

By Lauren VandenHoven on August 28, 2019

Sandy Sargent, PUC’s director of Health Services, has spent her summer engaging with community members by starting conversations about health at farmer’s markets in Napa and St. Helena. Twice each week, she and her team tackle different seasonal concerns, some of which include stress, sun protection and water safety, allergic reactions, hydration, and diabetes awareness. They presented the issues through evidence-based visual aids from well-known sources like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), along with hands-on teaching tools: a pool with rubber ducks for the kids and using a mannequin to teach learners of all ages how to practice CPR.

“The most important thing for me is to dialogue with people and educate them about basic health concerns that are surprisingly overlooked,” Sargent says. “We have something to offer—a way to be a part of the community, an opportunity that would not only bring exposure to PUC, but also give something back.”

The work isn’t just about raising awareness on a variety of health issues; it’s about connecting with a wide array of people and ages.

“It’s a chance to be visible,” says Sargent. “It’s rewarding, and it creates relationships at a community level.”

She shares stories about teaching a little boy how to

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Pacific Union College Ranks #2 on PayScale's 2019-20 College Salary Report

By Staff Writer on August 26, 2019

Pacific Union College announced today that they rank second on PayScale’s 2019-20 ranking of associate degree schools which provide the best return on investment after graduation.

“The majority of the highest earning two-year programs are schools with strong reputations and a specific focus in nursing and healthcare professions,” PayScale stated in its release of this year’s rankings. This includes PUC, which trails the #1 school by a mere $200 in average mid-career annual pay.

“Our A.S. graduates are receiving a well-deserved return on their investment with an excellent Adventist education at Pacific Union College,” says Milbert Mariano, academic dean at PUC. “We are proud of our them as well as our professors who are clearly preparing them for meaningful and rewarding service.”

PayScale, Inc., is the world’s leading provider of on-demand compensation data and software. Their 2019 annual College Salary Report included alumni salary data of 3.5 million respondents, representing more than 4,000 colleges and universities across the U.S.

“Higher education is a major financial decision, both in terms of the cost of attending the institution as well as the potential for future earnings,” notes Sudarshan Sampath, PayScale’s director of research, in the company’s release of the rankings. “Our College Salary Report can be

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From Pioneer to River Cat: PUC alum announces for Sacramento’s MiLB team

By Sarah Tanner on August 13, 2019

PUC alum Justin Smith graduated in 2006 with a degree in business and a passion for sportscasting. The voice of the Pioneers during his college years, Smith developed a love of announcing that recently helped land him a position with the Sacramento River Cats as a regular announcer for their minor league baseball games.

“I’ve been interested in announcing since my senior year of high school,” Smith explains. “My experiences at PUC taught me the basics of speaking loud and clear to a large crowd, and having an Adventist education is something that helps you wherever you go.”

Each River Cats game requires five or six hours of intense focus, including time before and after the game to run through scripts, become familiar with the batting line-ups, and prepare for the first pitches, national anthem, and interactions with other announcers.

When asked what his favorite aspect of announcing is, Smith said it was the fact that he could share his skills with his local high school, and contribute to their basketball and volleyball games.

“I get the most joy from announcing at Sacramento Adventist Academy’s games. My primary focus is on that school. The River Cats position is a great opportunity, but I find

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PQ Rise: PUC Hosts Inaugural STEM Event for High Schoolers

By Becky St. Clair on August 8, 2019

For 24 years, PUC has hosted PacificQuest annually during the summer, inviting high-achieving middle school students to campus to participate in various STEM activities to enhance their knowledge and interest. The program was an instant success with both participating teachers and students, and has remained hugely popular over the years. The only downside? Once a student graduates 8th grade, they can no longer attend PacificQuest.

“The PacificQuest students and parents have been asking for years for a similar program for academy and high school students,” says Aimee Wyrick, chair of the department of biology and event coordinator. “With the support of PacificQuest alumni and union schools, we finally had the resources to make it happen this year.”

And so, in July, for the first time ever, PUC hosted PQ Rise, a similar program to PacificQuest, but for high school students.

“I loved the three years of Pacific Quest I did so much, that when I saw an opportunity to do it for another summer, I was ecstatic,” enthuses Sofia Rasi, sophomore at Monterey Bay Academy.

Though she wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, Rasi suspected the classes would be slightly more challenging and the curriculum enriched. She wasn’t disappointed.

“I must say, our activities felt

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Inspired Success: PUC grad sets academic record at LLU

By Becky St. Clair on August 6, 2019

David Ruckle was born into a family of physicians: his dad, his mom, five uncles, and three aunts are all medical professionals. Needless to say, it was a path he found to be a natural one when he enrolled at PUC as a pre-med student. He chose business as his major.

“Business taught me how to manage a team and my time, helped me improve my collaboration skills, and gave me the tools to successfully handle my personal and business finances,” he says.

Ruckle recalls one experience stemming from a group project in a class taught by former business professor John Nunes. When Ruckle approached Nunes with frustrations about the project, Nunes talked him through the situation.

“He coached me through how to work better with other people, and how to motivate a group,” says Ruckle. “He helped me find ways to inspire success and to encourage others to be contributing members of a team. This was helpful because medicine is a very team-based career, with several people all working from their specific areas to achieve the best patient care you can get. I won’t forget the lessons Nunes taught me.”

After graduating from PUC in 2015, Ruckle went on to Loma Linda University.

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Alumni Spotlight: Danielle Nelson, Ph.D.

By Sarah Tanner on August 6, 2019

Danielle Nelson, a psychology student from PUC’s graduating class of 2014, just received her Ph.D. from Palo Alto University after extensive hands-on training at Stanford University and the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital.

Reflecting on her time at PUC, Nelson recalled the training she received in the fields of statistics, clinical work, and research as being on-par with the instruction her peers from Ivy League institutions received.

“I worked closely with Dr. Bruce Bainum on a research project that examined social eating behaviors in women,” she says. “We went on to present the project at the Western Psychological Association Conference in 2014 and won the Psi-Chi regional award for the research. Many undergraduate students do not have the opportunity to helm research in such a substantial way, but PUC provided that opportunity, which helped me monumentally in my doctoral training.”

In regards to her time at Stanford and the Children’s Hospital, Nelson quickly climbed the ranks to work as a neuropsychological assessor for children with learning disabilities in mathematics, and worked in the pediatrics department at the L.A. hospital in the Assessment, Consultation, and Evaluation track.

Nelson’s choice to pursue a Ph.D. was also largely influenced by her experiences at PUC.

“After working with my professors

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PUC Alum Lands Residency at Harvard

By Sarah Tanner on July 31, 2019

Biochemistry major and member of PUC’s graduating class of 2015, Daniel Amponsah has become the first Loma Linda University graduate to accept a residency at Harvard Medical School after completing his courses in medical school this year.

Amponsah credits professors such as Aimee Wyrick in biology and Marie Pak in chemistry for preparing him for the challenges medical school presented. While at PUC, he also participated in a variety of non-academic activities that helped take his transcripts to the next level--extracurriculars such as participating in student government, being a chemistry TA, and working with the Gospel Sabbath School on campus.

As he reflected on his time at PUC, Amponsah encouraged current medical school hopefuls to “always study hard and do well, as cliche as that sounds. Challenge yourself while in college, participate in events, and remember to have fun.”

He continued, “Work hard, study hard, pray hard and everything will work itself out.”

As he looks towards the future, Amponsah plans to complete his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital with the title of Harvard Clinical Fellow. He is currently focusing on internal medicine and hopes to specialize in interventional and structural cardiology.

“I am looking forward to amazing learning opportunities from some of the top

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PacificQuest 2019: Middle Schoolers Experience STEM at PUC

By Larissa Church & Becky St. Clair on July 18, 2019

Pacific Union College held its annual PacificQuest program June 23-28, welcoming two dozen high-achieving middle school students to campus for five days of fun-filled and exciting learning in STEM: science, technology, engineering, and math. The program is designed to provide gifted students with the opportunity to explore college-level courses and encourage them to pursue a college education.

This summer, PacificQuest offered students three exciting hands-on classes: Chemistry, Computer Programming & Game Development, and Technology.

“This year’s PacificQuest group was fantastic,” says Aimee Wyrick, chair of the department of biology. “One of the biggest values of this experience is that students get to know people from other schools and expand their horizons. They get a chance to learn beyond the typical topics covered in the classroom, and get to work with like-minded students on fun projects.”

Chemistry, taught by Kent Davis, chair of the department of chemistry, explored the idea that properties of matter are a consequence of the three-dimensional shapes of molecules.

Computer Programming & Game Development, taught by Chantel Blackburn, associate professor of mathematics, gave students the opportunity to learn about coding through an introduction to the computer language C#. Students created their own versions of the popular 1990s computer game, Minesweeper, brainstorming

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Community Care: Local Nursing Grads Share Their Stories

By Becky St. Clair on July 12, 2019

It’s no secret Pacific Union College’s largest program is nursing, and that the department thrives on preparing medical professionals for successful, productive lives of service and care.

Whether they are working in the operating or emergency room, hospital or clinic, PUC nursing grads enter the workforce with confidence, experience, knowledge, and a heart both for the people they treat, and for those they work alongside.

“These new grads embrace our mission of inspiring health, wholeness, and hope,” says Susan Collins, talent advisor in talent acquisitions at Adventist Health St. Helena. “When we hire them, they continue expressing that kindness through their patient care. We are blessed they are now a part of our team.”

Additionally, many of these PUC nursing alumni choose to stay in the area, having developed relationships with medical clinics, hospitals, and residents in the valley, and established connections within their field. This gives them the confidence to enter their roles with spirit and energy from Day One.

“I find the PUC new grad is eager and ready to learn,” says Heather Anderson, department nursing director for MedSurg and surgical unit at Adventist Health. “They embrace the challenges the day brings and learn from each event and encounter.  We

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