By Kwuan Guerrero

This week we welcome the incoming freshman and welcome back returning students to a new year at PUC! In preparation for their final year, seniors took some time to look at how they have grown over their past few years in college. While reflecting on their experiences, a group of seniors shared some insight on their struggles, successes, growth and their good times here at PUC.

What have been some common struggles for you throughout college?

Jamal Armstrong: Sometimes it’s hard to balance friends with commitments to extracurricular activities, including worship. When you are involved in so many things, time management becomes important for keeping relationships healthy.
Angel Castillo: The most common struggle I’ve had is probably with finances. However, this struggle has been a blessing in disguise because it’s pushed me to pursue different job opportunities. Along the way, I’ve gained a lot of valuable experience and have learned to appreciate things more.
Dominique Townsend: Time management. I’m the type of person who likes to do it all. So balancing school, work, social obligations and self-care — like exercise, spiritual pursuits, etc. — have been a three-year journey.
Erika Michelle: Procrastination, staying organized, making myself go to colloquy, getting enough sleep and being away from close family and friends.
Kristine Perena: Trying to balance time. Going to a college that goes by the quarter system, you’re already bound to be chasing time with the back-to-back exams, homework and deadlines. Managing my time to balance school work, a job and social time has definitely been a learning process.

Looking back, what are you most proud of?

Jamal: I think I’m most proud of allowing God to use me and all my talents. I’ve always loved to sing but I’ve never allowed myself to do it. So I’m definitely proud that God allowed me to open up and become more confident in my voice to help others.
Angel: All the things that I’ve become involved with. I’ve been the vice president of Sol Club, an ambassador-at-large for two years, World Missions student coordinator, life group leader, lead student ambassador and now the PR marketing Vice-president for Student Association. Being involved in these things has provided me with experience that surpasses anything I’ve learned in the classroom. I encourage all students to become involved and get the full benefit of their college experience.
Dominique: I think the relationships I’ve made. When I look back on college 20 years from now I probably won’t remember my exact classrooms in Irwin Hall, but the relationships I’ve cultivated with my friends and professors are going to stay with me for a very long time.
Erika: I’m happy I took the time to recognize my strengths and weaknesses, and then chose to challenge my weaknesses and work hard at them until they became strengths. I’ve since made it a part of my lifestyle.
Kristine: My proudest moment is definitely getting accepted to, and not falling out of, the nursing program.

Who is someone here at PUC that acted as a mentor to your growth in college?

Jamal: Greg Schneider, he’s a genius. He’s so smart and he has so much in-depth information. He’s so genuine and you can just feel that he loves to teach.
Angel: I have so many: Jennifer Tyner, Juan Hidalgo, Brian Kyle, Brittnie Sigamoney , but I would have to say my biggest mentor has been someone not on this campus. It’s my camp director Jeremy Cruz from Pine Springs Ranch. Camp is the reason I am who I am. It is also the reason I even came to PUC. I’ve worked at camp for seven years now and in the two months I’m there I grow more than I do the rest of the year. I recommend all students to give summer camp a try and work there as a counselor, instructor or in any way they can.
Dominique: It’s hard to choose just one person, but I’ve worked so closely with Dr. Peter Katz. I think he’s really inspired me to push myself to my limits in terms of what I can produce in my creative writing and literary analysis. I love that I not only have such deep respect for all my English professors, but also that I can genuinely call them my friends. Their support gives me the courage to continue my journey in academia beyond undergrad.
Erika: Professor Sanchez, she really took the time to help sharpen my skills as a social worker and encouraged me in other areas of my life. She even took the time during a meeting to pray with me when some stuff was going on in my personal life. I can definitely say I’ve learned a lot from her and will continue to look up to her as a mentor in my life.
Kristine: Doug Wilson. He is always there when I need advice about school and my personal life and helps me see things in a better light.

What was your favorite freshman experience?

Jamal: Watching football in the lobby of Grainger with Kevin Canavan, one of my good friends who passed away not too long ago. That’s a memory I hold close.
Angel: My favorite freshman experience was going to Albion with Sol Club. Sol Club is the most active club on campus, thus making it the one with the most student participation. Going to Albion was amazing because I met some of my closest friends there. Even though it is the student organization of Latinos, all sorts of cultures are represented.
Dominique: I guess just going on drives with my friends. Since PUC is so isolated, we had plenty of time to listen to music, talk and make jokes on the way to wherever we were going. Those little moments told me so much about everyone in the car.
Erika: Oh man, that’s a hard one... probably when my friend/roommate Brittany and I went to the Fall Festival and wore sumo wrestler outfits and tried to fight in them. It was so funny, definitely one of my favorite experiences.
Kristine: The experience of becoming more independent and meeting friends that I now consider family. Being stuck on the hill is unfortunate some weekends, but it helps you to build stronger relationships with your friends.