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PUC Forest Helps Sustain Habitat for California’s Rare and Threatened State Butterfly

By Laura Gang on September 5, 2023

Biology professor Aimee Wyrick always knew the PUC Forest was a special place.But until recently, she didn’t know just how special it was.Wyrick, a longtime Pacific Union College educator and dean of the school of sciences, was walking with her father through the forest this past spring, where she has spent countless hours studying plants and wildlife. They spotted something she’d never seen before—a black and yellow butterfly with a peach silhouette on both wings. It was a California dogface butterfly. Not only is it rare, but in 1972, it was officially named the California state insect. The butterfly wasn’t alone. Several other bright females and males quickly flitted about the wooded area, only pausing briefly to alight on dark purple blossoms with orange-tipped stamens. Wyrick had been surveying the PUC Forest, documenting rare native plants as part of a state-funded grant program. Last year, the state awarded a $5 million Cal Fire Forest Health Grant to the Napa Communities Firewise Foundation with PUC as a primary partner. Nearly $3 million was given to PUC Forest for wildfire mitigation — namely fuel reduction.In the process of forest thinning, it’s important to preserve certain trees and plants that may be threatened. One of these...
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PUC Receives Federal Grant to Assist Master’s Students Aspiring to Become Nurse Educators

By Laura Gang on July 21, 2023

It’s no secret that hospitals, doctor’s offices, schools, and more in the United States are facing a nursing staff shortage. More nurses are needed to replace those retiring. The good news is that college nursing programs are seeing a rise in students. However, more qualified nurse faculty are in demand to teach these new nurses.To help fill this need, on July 3, 2023, Pacific Union College received a grant of more than $203,000 from the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) for a Nursing Loan Faculty Program (NFLP). This grant will provide PUC with the resources to assist prospective MSN students financially. The loan program was created to help alleviate financial concerns for graduate nursing students interested in becoming educators.“As a former recipient of this grant during my doctoral program, I was determined to obtain this funding to support the nurse educator students enrolled in our new PUC MSN program,” said Kimberly Dunker, dean of the PUC School of Nursing and Health Sciences. “This is the perfect opportunity for nurses who want to teach in academia or the practice setting to obtain funding through this loan forgiveness program.”Funds from the loan program are available to accredited nursing schools to help...
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Mariano Looks Ahead To Leading Honors Program for a New Generation

By Laura Gang on July 9, 2023

For Milbert Mariano, starting a new role at Pacific Union College in July is like a homecoming.Mariano is set to become the dean of the new School of Arts, Humanities, and Professions at PUC. As part of those new duties, he is also taking over leadership of the Honors Program, which he was closely involved in early in his PUC career.Earlier this year, PUC announced a new three-school model. As leadership discussed the path ahead, Mariano became intrigued by the idea of transitioning from vice president of academic administration and academic dean to lead one of the new schools—especially because of the Honors Program. “I knew the Honors director was part of that,” he said. “It’s one of the things that really excited me since I had been a part of the Honors Program years ago.”PUC’s Honors Program is for high-achieving students who seek a more robust understanding of a complex world. Courses are based on primary text and discussion—an alternative to the traditional general education format. Students are encouraged to develop critical thinking skills, aesthetic appreciation, and spiritual growth. As he looks forward to the new role, Mariano said he wants to build upon the successes of his predecessors—Allison...
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PUC Sees Strong Gains in New Students for Spring

By Laura Gang on June 19, 2023

Editor’s Note: We are reposting this story with an updated headline that more clearly reflects its content.This year’s theme at Pacific Union College is “Revival”; certainly, there’s no better metaphor for renewal than spring. It’s a time when we witness the glorious rebirth of nature all around us. The sun finally casts its warm light after a long cold winter. Spring brings a revitalized sense of optimism.Likewise, there’s optimism on the horizon for PUC. This spring has seen the highest number of new students enrolling in the last ten years. Additionally, Economic Full-Time Equivalent (EFTE) enrollment has increased each quarter this year—something which has never happened before in the modern history of the college. Many factors have contributed to these successes. Kharolynn Pascual Smith, director of orientation, transitions, and retention, said the return to pre-pandemic conditions has made it possible for many students to move forward with their college plans. Pascual Smith, who focuses primarily on re-enrollment, regularly checks in with her students and helps them through difficult obstacles. That kind of personal care is another reason students are more likely to stay. Pascual Smith also cited the enrollment team’s “intentional approach in seeking out and cultivating potential students for...
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Pacific Union College Graduation Weekend Events 2023

By Laura Gang on June 14, 2023

Pacific Union College will host its 2023 commencement ceremonies from Friday, June 16, through Sunday, June 18.The college is proud to recognize the accomplishments of 219 students and will award 241 associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. The largest group is comprised of 145 nursing and health science students, followed by biology (21), visual arts (15), business administration (14), and psychology and social work (12).“We are proud of our high-achieving senior students, who give warmth and add friendliness to our campus, which builds a friend network for life,” President Ralph Trecartin said. “This diverse class is exceptionally dedicated to strengthening spiritual life throughout the community and being leaders to others in all services through worship, Bible study, and outreach. It is a joyous sight to see them learn with purpose, rise in faith, and serve with love.”In the class of 2023, 15 students will graduate summa cum laude, 17 magna cum laude, 45 cum laude, and 8 with honors. Four graduates are Maxwell Scholars, who were recognized as incoming freshmen for their outstanding academics and awarded full tuition scholarships based on their exemplary academic achievements and test scores. This year’s Maxwell Scholars are Melody Chana Park, fine arts major; Brenna Fillmore,...
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Remembering the Life of Allison Fox

By Laura Gang, Ally Romanes, and Herbert Ford on June 8, 2023

Pacific Union College and the Angwin community are deeply saddened by the loss of Allison Fox, PUC alum, access services librarian, and Honors program director, who passed away surrounded by her family on May 9 in Angwin, California.“Allison did a fantastic job taking care of our Honors students and making sure they had a great academic experience at PUC,” said Milbert Mariano, PUC vice president for academic administration and academic dean. “She did an excellent job preparing each of our students for the life of a Christian scholar. I am proud of the work she did and know many will miss her zest for life greatly.” Fox was born at St. Helena Hospital to Cheryl and Chuck Fox. She grew up in Angwin, along with sisters Heidi and Lizzie. She attended both PUC Elementary and PUC Preparatory Academy and was a lifelong member of the PUC Church. When she started college at PUC, Fox was a student worker for two years in the campus bookstore. She then worked for two more years at the Nelson Memorial Library, often in the archives with the Walter Utt collection. In 2001, she graduated from PUC with a B.A. in English. Fox moved away from her...
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Susan Bussell is Pacific Union College’s 2023 Educator of the Year

By Laura Gang on May 18, 2023

Professor of Nursing Susan Bussell was honored as Pacific Union College Educator of the Year at a special Community program in the PUC Church on May 18.Milbert Mariano, vice president for academic administration and academic dean, said Bussell demonstrates the highest level of professionalism and expertise in her field. “She's a true advocate for nursing education, and her enthusiasm for the profession is evident in her work with students,” he said. “She has a gift for inspiring and motivating her students and has been a mentor to many young nurses throughout her career as an educator.” This year marks the second time in the college’s history that a professor of nursing has been selected as the Educator of the Year. Last year’s honoree, Professor of Nursing Serah Choi, spoke about her journey from being a nurse to becoming an educator and looking to Jesus as her mentor. She reminded students that a little progress every day can eventually yield significant results.Mariano and Choi presented Bussell with a framed certificate, balloons, and a bouquet of sunflowers and red roses. She was also honored with a superhero cape and a lightsaber—all traditional gifts bestowed on the college’s previous honorees. Bussell’s husband, Ty,...
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Angwin to Angwish Trail Run

By Laura Gang on May 18, 2023

After a four-year hiatus, the annual Angwin to Angwish trail run made a triumphant return to Pacific Union College. Due to wildfire threats and the COVID-19 pandemic, 2018 was the last time this event was held.But early on a sunshine-filled Sunday, May 7, 100 runners of all ages from the college and in the greater community gathered atop the mountain to run and have fun. All funds from the race went to support the PUC department of athletics.Race director Abraham Garrido, also PUC’s head coach for both men’s and women’s cross-country teams, said he was surprised and excited about the number of participants. “They all had a great time, and that's something that stood out,” he said.Angwin to Angwish, which began in 1974, is a beautiful forested trail run through PUC’s backwoods property. This year’s event offered four races of varied difficulty and terrain. A 10k, half marathon, and 30k took runners up and over the aptly named “Angwish Hill.” There was also a 1-mile fun run for kids.“PUC has managed the forest well, opened it up to the surrounding area; it’s a huge community asset,” said Napa County Supervisor Anne Cottrell. “It’s great to feature it as part of...
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PUC and Adventist Health Expand Nursing Program to Lake and Mendocino Counties

By Laura Gang on May 17, 2023

Pacific Union College and Adventist Health have announced a new partnership to better serve rural communities in Central and Northern California, including in Lake and Mendocino counties. This collaboration will further the college's goals of growing its nursing program and help meet the rising need for highly qualified healthcare professionals in these areas. “Partnering with nursing schools is the best way for hospitals to ensure there is a pipeline for recruitment of nurses,” said PUC Department of Nursing Chair Kimberly Dunker. “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 of Science in Nursing (ASN) program will be open to Adventist Health employees and community members in the local areas of Lake and Mendocino counties looking to move into the nursing field. Classes will begin in September. Judson Howe, president of the North Coast Network for Adventist Health, said creating a local nursing workforce is one of the organization’s top priorities. “The nursing program at Pacific Union College creates an additional avenue for our community members to receive a world-class registered nursing education,” Howe said. “Adventist Health North...
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PUC’s Ninth Mission Trip to Fiji: Building Relationships with Service and Love

By Laura Gang on May 4, 2023

In March, over spring vacation, a group of students and faculty from Pacific Union College traveled to Mana Island, Fiji, for a 10-day mission trip.It’s been nearly a decade since the first PUC trip to this remote location. Mana is very small, with only a population of about 500 people. Each mission trip has focused on meeting their needs in a variety of areas. A deep connection between PUC and the community has developed with each return trip to the island.Under the leadership of former Missions Director Fabio Maia and two co-leaders, Biology Professor Floyd Hayes and Nursing Professor Sandra Ringer, this year’s mission trip included 12 nursing students and three non-nursing students. Nicolette Piaubert, a nursing professor at PUC, also went on the trip and helped lead healthcare services.“This year, we focused mostly on providing medical and dental care for the residents of the island, working as a team with American and Brazilian health care professionals,” Hayes said. “We also provided laptop computers, snorkeling gear, solar power systems, Vacation Bible School, and trash removal.”At a spring Week of Prayer program in April, Ringer told students about the recent trip to Fiji and said there is virtually no healthcare on...
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