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In Service and Faith: The Inspiring Journeys of Two Couples in Adventist Education

By Laura Gang on March 14, 2024

For more than 140 years, Pacific Union College has been a pillar of education, preparing and supporting students for lives of service and leadership. Many alumni have embarked on remarkable journeys of faith and service, particularly as teachers. Among those educators are two couples who stand out as examples of the enduring impact of Seventh-day Adventist education and mission. In addition to their shared beginnings at PUC and a deep commitment to their faith, these couples have embraced their roles as educators, shaping hearts and minds with a passion driven by their faith in God and an unwavering dedication to excellence. Both couples expressed gratitude to PUC for giving them a strong educational foundation. They attributed their success as teachers to the guidance and mentorship of numerous professors, especially those in the education department, who supported them academically and spiritually.Matt and Kim Bennie work at Redlands Adventist Academy, where they take their responsibility as educators seriously. Each day, they strive to instill a love of Christ in their students.“My hope is that students feel God’s love and embrace their true identity of being children of God,” Matt said. “As students create in the classroom, we can connect all lessons back...
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America in Crisis: Dwight Nelson’s Message of Warning and Hope Amid Division and Threats to Religious Liberty

By Laura Gang on March 12, 2024

Dwight Nelson, the longtime Seventh-day Adventist pastor of the Pioneer Memorial Church, recently retired after 40 years there. Yet, retirement hasn’t dimmed his passion. Instead, he is focused on living on the brink of eternity, the soon return of Jesus, and the undeniable challenges facing America—specifically, religious liberty and the dangerous rise of Christian nationalism.“I’m grateful to be coming to PUC—because I believe young adults are the strategic key to waking America up to this critical moment in history,” Nelson said in an interview. “We as a nation are fractured on practically every level of life and culture—racially, spiritually, economically, politically, socially—and I’m convinced the young are God’s essential endgame move to bring healing to America.”On March 1-2, Pacific Union College hosted the Northern California Conference’s (NCC) annual Religious Liberty Summit. The event centered on three powerful messages from Nelson and breakout workshops featuring several prominent presenters, including two Superior Court judges, a community organizer, the chief of staff for a California state senator, and a historian. The weekend event culminated in a panel discussion, fostering thought-provoking conversations on pressing religious liberty issues.NCC has sponsored religious liberty events for several years—three annually on this vital cause. These include the spring...
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PUC Gains Approval to Expand Nursing Program to Sonora

By Laura Gang on March 4, 2024

Pacific Union College recently announced that it received state approval for a new nursing training partnership with Adventist Health Sonora. The PUC education center will further the college's goals of growing its nursing program and help meet the rising need for highly qualified healthcare professionals in the Tuolumne County area. “In order to expand nursing education to rural areas, hospitals must partner with nursing schools,” said Kimberly Dunker, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at PUC. “Because of the long-standing history between our Adventist organizations, we are able to not only partner but share the same values and beliefs for nursing education and talent acquisition.”The Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN) program will be open to Adventist Health employees and prospective students in the area looking to move into the nursing field. Pre-nursing classes will begin in April. The nursing program will commence in September.The California Board of Registered Nurses (BRN) and the Education Licensing Committee (ELC) approved the addition of 18 students to PUC’s nursing program at the Sonora site. This hard-won achievement results from a two-year collaborative effort by PUC and Adventist Health to establish a new nursing education center in an underserved area. Though California will...
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Construction Set to Begin on The Tonge Media Center in Fisher Hall

By Laura Gang on February 26, 2024

Thanks to two recent grants, Pacific Union College’s Department of Visual Arts will begin this spring to construct a new and innovative media center.The Tonge Media Center in Fisher Hall will house an advanced audio and video studio with state-of-the-art technology and equipment. The center will provide high-quality video and audio production access to the entire campus community. Other components of the center will include an office, kitchen, dressing room, and various equipment storage rooms.The primary objective of The Tonge Media Center is to offer film majors invaluable hands-on experience with the latest technology and methods. The center also addresses a longstanding need at PUC for a streamlined content creation process.“The Tonge Media Center will allow Fisher Hall to become the heart of all media created and produced on PUC’s campus,” said Rajeev Sigamoney, chair of the visual arts department. “Not only will film students in visual arts benefit from the state-of-the-art technology, but every department, student, and employee on campus will have the ability to create and publish professional-level media with much greater ease than in the past.”Many other PUC departments frequently seek to produce polished videos for their web pages or social media platforms. Until now, they’ve had...
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Loma Linda Students Share How PUC Prepared Them for Medical School

By Laura Gang on February 22, 2024

Pacific Union College alumni Andrew Fay, Drielly Martins, and Eva Yankee, all biology graduates, are currently pursuing medical education at Loma Linda University School of Medicine. They attribute their early success in medical school to the solid foundation established during their time at PUC.Each one praised the guidance and educational support provided by PUC’s biology department and professors and said their courses equipped them with the necessary skills and knowledge they would need to navigate the challenges of medical school.The three students graciously answered questions and shared valuable advice for current PUC students regarding study habits and personal growth.What inspired you to pursue a career in medicine?Drielly Martins, originally from São Paulo, Brazil, attended Centro Universitário Adventista de São Paulo. Her interest in medicine was kindled in high school during a biology class when they studied the human body. “I was also drawn to a career in health care for the opportunity to serve others,” she said. “I specifically chose to pursue an MD degree because of the more intensive training and learning that comes with being a physician.”Andrew Fay grew up in Redlands, California, and attended Redlands East Valley High School. He said his grandfather, a neurologist, influenced him...
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From PUC Treasure Hunt to the Mission Field: Sean Brizendine’s Journey to Ministry and Service

By Laura Gang on February 16, 2024

Sean Brizendine’s path toward the ministry had an unexpected beginning—a treasure hunt at Pacific Union College.In 2007, a campus-wide email presented Sean with an intriguing challenge: "Find the Top 20 Reasons To Be a Student Missionary and Receive $20." The task was straightforward—locate all the reasons scattered around PUC's campus, then present them at the chaplain's office.Sean wasted no time. He dashed from building to building, meticulously searching until he found all the reasons and wrote them down—ultimately clinching the prize as the first to complete the mission.As he claimed his reward from then-PUC Chaplain Anita Davies, a question lingered in Sean’s mind. “‘You’ve kind of piqued my curiosity,’” Sean recalled saying, “What do I need to do to become a student missionary?”Davies explained that he would need to complete a required form and be a Seventh-day Adventist.Sean was captivated by the proposition. He was a devout Christian who believed in the seventh-day Sabbath and attended PUC, but he was not a Seventh-day Adventist.Sean grew up in Modesto, California. His parents had Adventist backgrounds, met at Andrews University, and married in the Alpena Seventh-day Adventist Church. However, they later left the church after enduring several trials, including the loss of...
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PUC’s Student Success Center Supports and Empowers All Students

By Laura Gang on February 12, 2024

In the realms of professional sports, health care, education, and beyond, learning and the pursuit of knowledge are constant. Whether it involves embracing new techniques, adopting fresh strategies, or seeking improvement, the journey toward personal development and excellence remains ongoing.Pacific Union College’s Student Success Center, formerly known as the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC), is committed to providing personalized support and enrichment for every student. Its primary mission is to aid students in discovering, exploring, and building upon their God-given, unique strengths and gifts—not only in academics but holistically, across all facets of their lives.The newly appointed director of the Student Success Center is Kharolynn Pascual Smith. With extensive experience as an educator and advisor, Pascual Smith brings a multifaceted perspective to her leadership, further building upon the groundwork laid by the TLC. Her vision and commitment focus on reshaping the role of the center and enhancing its impact on the diverse needs of PUC’s student body. Pascual Smith, who previously served as PUC’s director of orientation, transition, and retention, said her passion for Adventist education is the message of grace and the truth about God’s design and purpose for each life. “Our value is not outside of ourselves. We...
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Week of Worship: PUC Students Share Personal Testimonies of Wholehearted Devotion to God

By Laura Gang on February 6, 2024

Throughout the years, Pacific Union College has been blessed by the powerful messages of pastors and guest speakers during special events such as week of prayer and vespers. But Student Week of Worship holds a unique significance, allowing students to speak authentically from their hearts to their peers.From Jan. 22-26, PUC hosted its annual Student Week of Worship in the PUC Church and Paulin Hall. This year, five students representing different years and majors shared testimonies and reflections on the college’s overarching theme of the school year, “All In.”The daily services began with Campus Chaplain Arturo Lopez warmly welcoming students, followed by student praise bands leading out in song. Most days, the student speaker was given a gracious introduction from a friend or peer.On the first day, freshman theology major Jacob Duran delivered a heartfelt message titled “What Do You Hold in Your Hand?” He began by asking students to reflect on how they respond to calls from friends, then transitioned to the profound question of how they respond to the call of God. Drawing parallels from the stories of Jonah and Moses, Duran explored their different responses to God’s calling. He then shared his own story of answering the...
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The Appeal of Angwin: The Small College Community with a Big Heart

By Laura Gang on January 25, 2024

Driving through the world-renowned Napa Valley along the Silverado Trail reveals breathtaking views of rolling vineyards and lush green and gold trees—all surrounded by coastal mountains. Near the town of St. Helena, turn to ascend Howell Mountain and appreciate the beauty of its wooded tapestry.Near the summit, the forest clears, revealing the campus of Pacific Union College—the vibrant heart of the idyllic community of Angwin.Home to a mere 3,000 residents, many of whom are employed by the college, Angwin offers a unique sense of community beyond the workplace. In Angwin, everyone feels like a cherished member of an extended family.The community has much to offer residents:Safe neighborhoods with friendly residents provide families with a safe environment for their children to play and explore freely outdoors. Proximity to a wealth of outdoor and recreational activities, including cycling, horseback riding, hiking, trail running, and on-campus amenities, including a gym, track, tennis, and pickleball courts. Additionally, dirt bike riding and water sports are readily accessible nearby. Enjoying the charm of small-town and rural living all within driving distance of world-class dining and cultural experiences in St. Helena, Napa, and San Francisco. Convenient access to high-quality healthcare services within a 5-minute drive. Opportunities for...
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Record Turnout Set for PUC’s Annual Academy Basketball Tournament

By Laura Gang on January 22, 2024

Pacific Union College, in collaboration with PUC Preparatory School, is set to host the Pioneers Invitational Academy Basketball Tournament from January 24-27. This year marks a record turnout for the annual event, featuring participation from 17 academies and 32 boys and girls teams representing schools in California and as far away as Hawaii and Maine.Matt Lee, one of the event organizers and athletic director at PUC Prep, expressed his enthusiasm about the turnout. “We've never had this many schools here for the tournament before, and I'm really excited about all of the energy on campus,” said Lee. “Playing on all three courts creates a great atmosphere and allows a lot of great basketball to happen in just a few days.”The four-day tournament kicks off with the first boys and girls games on Wednesday morning at the Pacific Auditorium. In addition to the games, there will also be a 3-point shooting contest on Friday afternoon. A special award ceremony for participating teams is scheduled for Saturday night, followed by the final championship games. The list of participating academies includes: Armona Union AcademyBakersfield Adventist AcademyCentral Valley Christian AcademyEscondido Adventist AcademyHawaiian Mission AcademyKolbe Trinity PrepLoma Linda AcademyMile High AcademyMonterey Bay AcademyMountain View AcademyNewbury...
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