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Pacific Union College Graduation Weekend 2019

By Becky St. Clair on June 14, 2019

Pacific Union College, Napa Valley’s only four-year college, will host its annual commencement exercises Friday, June 14, through Sunday, June 16.The college will proudly award 330 associate, bachelor, and master’s degrees to 309 graduates. The largest departmental groups are the nursing and health sciences (170 graduates from the Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs), business administration (42), communication (21), and psychology & social work (21).In addition, four graduating students are Maxwell Scholars: Michael Caster, management for medical professionals major; Alexander Chang, chemistry (biochemistry) major; Lauren Chang, English writing major; and Laurel Kwon, English writing major. Maxwell Scholars are recognized as incoming freshmen for their outstanding academic achievement, and are awarded a renewable scholarship based on their unweighted cumulative GPA and test scores.“We are excited to honor and celebrate our graduates and the future that lies ahead,” says Robert Cushman Jr., PUC president. “I look forward to meeting graduates, families, and friends here on beautiful Howell Mountain, where nature and revelation unite in education.”In the class of 2019, 17 students will graduate summa cum laude; 18 magna cum laude; 50 cum laude; 4 with honors. After California, which is home to 272 graduating seniors, Washington State and...

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Maria Rankin-Brown Named New Associate Academic Dean

By Becky St. Clair on June 11, 2019

Maria Rankin-Brown, who has served for the last four years as chair of the department of English at Pacific Union College, will find herself in a new role this summer, serving as associate academic dean for the college.An English professor for over 20 years, Rankin-Brown has taught at PUC since 2006. During this time, she has served as composition program coordinator, Publication Workshop presenter and then co-director, and department chair. Prior to her time at PUC, Rankin-Brown taught English as a second language for multiple organizations, developing curriculum and managing tutors and instructors. In addition, she has taught public speaking, composition, and communication courses.“I’ve been a student at PUC, a faculty member, a chair, and a co-director of a summer program, giving me insight into multiple arenas on campus,” she says.Rankin-Brown values trust as a key component to relationships and strongly believes in working hard to develop and maintain transparency within and across departments. She also values collaboration, taking into account different people’s strengths to benefit the whole.“My experience on Academic Senate has been transformative,” she asserts. “Watching the department chairs work together to problem-solve and support one another to work to provide students on campus with the best academic...

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Milbert Mariano Named New Academic Dean

By Becky St. Clair on June 11, 2019

In July, Milbert Mariano, currently professor of graphic design in the department of visual arts at Pacific Union College, will transition into a new role at the college. After nearly 25 years of teaching graphic design, 12 of those as department chair, he has recently been named the college’s new vice president for academic administration and academic dean. Mariano fills the role following Dr. Nancy Lecourt’s retirement after 40 years at PUC.Having also spent four years as a student here, Mariano’s intimate knowledge of and love for the college goes back nearly three decades. He holds two B.S. degrees—one in advertising design and one in studio art—and an M.F.A. from Academy of Art University in San Francisco.“Milbert is an established leader on campus,” asserts Dr. Bob Cushman, president. “He has credibility and trust with faculty and staff, and as chair he built a department culture that was collaborative and inclusive; a model we want to share and develop across campus.” Over the years, Mariano has served in several capacities on campus beyond his teaching and chair roles. Taking a deep and abiding interest in every area of campus, he has served on several student committees as advisor and sponsor, coordinated...

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Study Tour Mission Trip to Kenya

By Becky St. Clair on May 14, 2019

Mission work and academic credit is perhaps an odd yet really cool combination. Over spring break, a group of 30 students from PUC served in Kenya on a mission trip, along with several faculty and staff. The group helped with the construction of a secondary school for women and painting a new non-denominational Bible training center, along with teaching Vacation Bible School at a primary school and assisting in a nearby health clinic.The African environment also offered a wealth of learning opportunities of organisms, species, and ecosystems, quite different from what students were used to studying in Northern California. As a result, they were given the option of receiving credit for either Field Biology or Vertebrate Biology, both taught by Floyd Hayes, professor of biology and one of the faculty who went on the trip.“It was a spectacular trip!” Hayes raves. “I’m pleased PUC provides many opportunities for students to travel to distant destinations, learn about diverse environments and cultures, serve developing communities, and share their love of God with others.”See more photos and read more about the trip on PUC’s blog....

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Pieces of the Valley: PUC Hosts Napa Valley Film Festival Film Camp

By Becky St. Clair on May 1, 2019

In June, Pacific Union College, the Cameo Cinema, and Napa Valley Film Festival will host their annual film camps for high school students in the North Bay Area. Taught by professors in PUC’s department of visual arts, this popular summer intensive is sponsored by the Cameo in St. Helena and the NVFF as a way to inspire and encourage young people to go big with their creativity in film.“Everything is filmed here in the valley and works together,” explains Rajeev Sigamoney, chair of the department of visual arts and film instructor. “The NVFF is the biggest film festival in the region, the Cameo is the valley’s signature theater, and PUC is the one place that does film education and has the resources to support an event like this. It’s a perfect partnership.”The film camp covers two weeks in June, first a narrative camp from June 17-21, where students learn to tell a fictional story in film from start to finish, and secondly the documentary camp, where students film mini documentaries about local prominent figures. Prior to the first camp, in May, Sigamoney holds a two-day writing workshop to develop the scripts that will be used in the narrative camp; the...

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“The Best Professor I’ve Ever Had:” Robin Vance Named Educator of the Year 2019

By Becky St. Clair on April 25, 2019

PUC’s 2019 Educator of the Year (EoY) was announced during Colloquy, and Dr. Robin Vance, professor of biology, received the award for the second time. The first time he received the award was in 2009.Vance has been teaching at PUC since 2001, when he accepted an offer to join the faculty in the department of biology. Previously, Vance taught for 12 years at Union College in Nebraska, including chairing their Division of Science and Mathematics. He brings with him bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees from Loma Linda University, and a Ph.D. in physiology.The EoY is chosen by the students. They vote for professors who have had tremendous impact on their lives. The award is always a surprise when it is announced, and is always received with resounding applause and cheers. During this event, the previous year’s EoY, who this year was Dr. Peter Katz, professor of English, presents a speech, and both colleagues and students of Vance took some time to “roast” the much beloved professor.“Dr. Vance’s tests are always challenging,” said Jefferson Richards, biology major and pre-med student. “For example, those of you who have taken Systems Physiology have experienced the joy of the infamous multiple multiple choice, where...

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Student Art Exhibition to Open at Pacific Union College

By Becky St. Clair on April 15, 2019

The department of visual arts at Pacific Union College welcomes the community to their annual student art show, April 18-June 16. The opening reception is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, in the campus’ Rasmussen Art Gallery.Several students will display original art pieces in the show, in a variety of media. Marina Maia, freshman fine art major, will have three pieces on display, all of which she completed during her winter quarter drawing fundamentals course.“One of them, done in pastels, is a surrealist piece of a blue eye melting into clouds,” Maia explains. “It was inspired by a photo a friend of mine sent me of his eyes. I told him that the undertones of his eyes reminded me of those in the clouds after the rain cleared, so I made this to prove it.”Professor Rajeev Sigamoney, chair of the department, says that the student art show is an opportunity for students to realize that what they’re doing is actually serious, professional work.“Often, it’s easy to think of college coursework as just an exercise in academia,” he says. “But when your homework ends up showing in an art gallery, gets seen by hundreds in the community, and receives criticism...

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Physics Students Assist with Research at National Lab

By Becky St. Clair on April 15, 2019

Last quarter, a few PUC physics students were given the opportunity to visit and assist with research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee. The idea was to give the students hands-on research experience in order to explore what research is like in a laboratory setting.PUC is one of three collaborative institutions working with ORNL and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to investigate X-ray-induced charge transfer.“This concept is not completely understood, due to lack of data,” junior chemistry major and trip participant Vola-Masoandro Andrianarijaona explains. “The research we’re doing seeks to better understand cosmic ray background.”To do this, there are two different sets of measurements that must be considered: the rocket measurement (aka: “all sky survey”) and the laboratory measurement. The former is done by NASA, the latter by ORNL, using the same rocket.“The laboratory measurement requires the ion beam to simulate the ions present in space that contributed to the data in the all sky survey,” Andrianarijaona details. “Then, the data from the all sky survey and the laboratory measurement will be compared to determine if the ion beam produces the same ions that are present in space.”While at ORNL, Andrianarijaona and her fellow PUC students...

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Rational & Reflective: Students Produce Online Current Events Journal

By Becky St. Clair on March 18, 2019

Eventorum began as the brainchild of 2015 PUC alumnus David O’Hair. Over a breakfast conversation in Greece that summer, O’Hair proposed his idea to Howard Munson, chair of the department of history, and in January 2016, Eventorum became a reality. Today, the website, designed by students in a 2016 web design class taught by design professor Milbert Mariano, is a developing current events journal, highlighting student-written articles edited and vetted by the department of history.“Eventorum is an opportunity for PUC students to get additional academic writing experience on topics that interest them, are current with their lives, and can help better-inform our campus as a whole,” Munson explains.Once a quarter, he meets with his students, who pitch ideas to the room. Once everyone settles on a topic, they set a deadline, and begin their research and writing process. The end goal is one article per student each quarter—source footnotes required.“I stress the idea that our job is to draw attention to current events, with consciousness of relevant history, and to inform rather than advocate,” Munson says. “We strive to maintain objectivity and to avoid political polarization.”Though there is no monetary motivation for getting an article published on Eventorum, Munson says...

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A Rich Future: Music Students Attend National Convention

By Becky St. Clair on March 18, 2019

Last month, the department of music took several students on a field trip to Anaheim for the 2019 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) convention. Asher Raboy, professor of music, vocalist, and PUC’s resident artist, organized the trip for two reasons. First, he wanted his students to gain insights into the kinds of employment opportunities that exist for music majors.“There are a lot of jobs in music,” he says, “but the traditional jobs—classroom teaching and performance—are getting rarer. It’s important that our students experience the wealth of modern opportunities so they can make wise choices about their futures.”Secondly, Raboy wanted his students to be energized by meeting successful professionals who are creative, energetic, and entrepreneurial by nature.“At worst, our students can find a new and powerful purpose to their major,” he says. “At best, they start to network and make connections that last a lifetime.”Though the event lasted six days, to avoid missing too many classes PUC’s students attended only for the weekend. During this time, they were able to attend concerts, talk with music professionals, listen to presentations, meet performers, and explore a plethora of products related to the music industry. NAMM exhibitors and presenters filled the entire Anaheim...

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