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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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Physics Students Present Posters at Conferences

By Becky St. Clair on July 12, 2019

In May, several PUC physics students attended two conferences by the American Physical Society (APS). At both events, students presented posters.“My Dad has a Ph.D. in physics, so even as a kid I had a fascination with the topic,” says Joseph Yang, who presented a poster with fellow student Dayton Brown. “Beyond that, I have always had a fascination with the nature of matter and the engineering mysteries physics creates. It's fun and highly conceptual which is right in my ballpark.”Yang and Brown attended the 50th annual meeting of the APS Division of Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics. Their poster presented research on molecular bond measurements, the abstract of which is expected to be published in the Bulletin of the American Physical Society.“Attending and presenting at conferences is an important way to keep current in your topics of preference,” says Vola Andrianarijaona, professor of physics at PUC. “The students will not be able to understand everything they hear, but they will be aware of the advancement from first-hand researchers, they will attend sessions alongside Nobel Prize winners, and will be inspired by other posters and student work. It is a form of education that cannot be achieved by staying on...

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Education and Inspiration: A Conversation with PUC Alum, Alex Dunbar

By Sarah Tanner on June 25, 2019

A self-titled “people person” with the singular goal of making a positive impact, PUC alumna Alex Dunbar has done just that since her graduation in 2014. After majoring in exercise science and completing an A.S. in health sciences, Dunbar then attended Loma Linda University School of Public Health, where she received her master’s degree in health education and promotion in 2017.Dunbar now works as a community education specialist in the public health branch of Shasta County’s Health and Human Services Agency, where her talents are directed primarily toward community education regarding the long-term effects of adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs. As the Strengthening Families Collaborative coordinator, Dunbar tackles issues such as neglect, abuse, and household dysfunction on a daily basis, and works to inform the public about the health risks associated with ACEs.Her involvement in this field is the culmination of a years-long process of education and inspiration.“My career actually took off before I even started working in the health field,” Dunbar explains. “PUC was not only where I received an education, but also where I received the opportunity to be an enrollment counselor. That experience trained me to be successful in my field when it comes to working with...

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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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The Next Generation: PUC Students Attend Women in Science Conference

By Sarah Tanner on May 21, 2019

Recently, a handful of PUC students attended a science-based conference for women. Its focus was on fostering young women interested in the STEM field and its various career options. Female students across PUC’s science departments were encouraged to attend the event and learn more about opportunities for growth in their area of interest.Junior chemistry major, Vola-Masoandro Andrianarijaona left the conference with a bolstered sense of potential.“With the help of mentors, and as long as I am willing to work hard, I can become a scientist,” she asserts. “Successful people overcome adversities and do not let those adversities get in the way of their aspirations.”Andrianarijaona also enjoyed the opportunity to meet other undergraduate women with goals similar to her own.“I think it is important to get as many people involved in science and research as possible,” she says. “In the past, women were not encouraged to enter the fields of science.”Andrianarijaona feels the long history of criticism and discouragement has undoubtedly prevented many intelligent individuals from making significant scientific discoveries.“This is quite unfortunate,” she says. “Bright minds, male and female alike, can contribute to scientific exploration and progress. By focusing events on women, we can work to reverse the idea that...

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