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191 Stories And Counting.

Tricia Gehrlein

#191 Tricia Gehrlein, Transfer to Univeristy of Redlands
(Attended part-time 1987-1994)

College of the Desert opened the door to higher education and changed my life. As part of a single parent household with limited income, I was no stranger to overcoming obstacles. My father died suddenly, when I was just sixteen. Picking up the pieces, I moved in with my sister to finish high school and then began searching for a job. I applied for and landed an entry level spot as a scheduler at Desert Hospital. Shortly thereafter, with no career plan in mind, I enrolled at College of the Desert (COD) hoping to find my future.

I was the first in her family to attend college. Like many of my fellow students, I had to work full-time while attending classes part-time. It was a struggle financially but I thrived in the supportive learning environment provided by the College.

It took me more than seven years to acquire the necessary credits for transfer to University of Redlands where I ultimately earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Management. In 2008, I was hired as Grants Manager at Desert Healthcare District.

Four years later the Clinton Foundation selected me to lead the implementation of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative as Regional Director in the Coachella Valley. I work with the community to facilitate the implementation of the Coachella Valley Blueprint for Action, identifying options and leveraging resources to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities across the region.

The lessons I learned during my years at COD helped me understand the value of exploring options and leveraging resources as I bring that experience to work each day with the Clinton Foundation.

I remember often that I walked the same path as many others who are struggling. Thanks to College of the Desert and others, I am fortunate to be able to now put my education and experience to work helping others meet and overcome obstacles to achieve a healthier and better life.

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David Graybill

#190 David Graybill
(Attended Art Classes )

We may live in a digital world, but for me it is paper that is my passion. As a working artist, I combine paper making techniques and use cotton fibers from recycled clothing to create jewelry and unique art pieces. My path to a successful career as a working artist began following graduation from Palm Springs High School when I enrolled in a series of paper making classes at the College. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Something just clicked with those classes. They opened my eyes, captured my imagination and flooded me with ideas about how I could use paper as a medium for my artistic vision.

For a time after I left the College cooking was my art form. But I kept dreaming about paper.

Putting what I learned at COD to work, I began experimenting on my own with casting and sculpture, looking at paper from every angle and trying to push the limits of my own creativity. Eventually, I found my way back to art and papermaking. The end result is a career as a working artist, creating one-of-a-kind works out of our Idyllwild studio.

We are frequent exhibitors at art shows throughout the Southwest and locally at the weekly Thursday evening Village Fest in Palm Springs.

And it all started with those paper making classes at College of the Desert. I credit Professor Kohl for teaching me that the only boundaries and limits we have are those we place upon ourselves. I continue to be a student of my own techniques, regularly learning new things about my craft to expand my vision and inspire my work.

College of the Desert changed my life. Art classes opened my eyes to the possibilities and support from faculty gave me the direction I needed to pursue my passion and realize my dream.

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Alison Lohman

#189 Alison Lohman
(Actress, COD Theater Alum)

I never dreamed appearing in College of the Desert (COD) musical theater productions would open the door to starring roles in Hollywood feature films alongside Michelle Pfeiffer, Renee Zellweger and Nicholas Cage. But that’s exactly what happened for me. I found my future on the stage with COD.

Thanks to College theatre arts faculty members Michelle Gaines, Darlene Romano and Lynda Shaeps, I was able to gain experience and confidence in a nurturing and supportive environment conducive to learning both career and life lessons.

These incredible COD women changed my life.

Armed with my local experience, I moved to Los Angeles immediately following graduation and started auditioning. I was successful getting work in commercials right away and soon landed an independent film. My first starring role in a major feature film came in the 2002 dramatic movie White Oleander where I was fortunate to receive critical acclaim, including Oscar buzz. Since then, I've been working steadily, including starring alongside Ewan McGregor in Big Fish and leading roles in Matchstick Men, Flicka and many more.

So much of the professional success I’ve experienced I owe to the great start, strong foundation, real world experience and support I found at the College. There is no substitute for having people believe in you.

Right now I am enjoying focusing on the best role I've ever had, being mom to our 3 year old son and 10 month old daughter.

I am so grateful to College of the Desert for providing me the opportunity to pursue a career and create a life that was well beyond my wildest dreams. Thanks, COD.

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#188 James Tidd II
(Alumnus, attended 2002 - 2005)

Hi, my name is Jimi and I enrolled at College of the Desert (COD) after exiting the military in 2002. My original intent was to major in computer programing or something along those lines as I knew the direction in which technology was heading. COD did not offer courses at the time and the closest I could get to working with computers was Digital Design and Production.

While attending COD, I was working as a security guard at night, which allowed me to attend classes by day. I also had a family of 4 at home to take care of during that time. After 3 years of hard work, having not yet graduated, I left COD and continued to pursue a career in the field of security. In 2008 I was hired as a Security Manager for a country club in Indio, California. With a management position in security, I left the Digital Design and Production field behind forever, or so I thought.

In 2010 a former employer who I had worked for as a security guard while attending COD, contacted me asking if I would interview for the position of Creative Director in their Administration Department. They knew I had gone to COD in the past and knew I had taken the courses for the position they were trying to fill. After the initial interview, they offered me the position.

I did not decide right away, but returned home and talked it out with my family. After careful thought and lots of prayer, my family and I made the decision that I would leave the security field behind, and move forward in this new venture.

The knowledge and insight I gained from COD has continued to bless me throughout the years, even to this day.

I have been the Creative Director at Palm Desert Greens Country Club now for the past 4 years. I maintain my church's website, and I continue to grow in different aspects of my life. I can honestly say that God has truly blessed me and my family.

I would like to thank the following faculty members at COD for their help and support during my time there as a student:

Donni Prince - Veterans Specialist, David Acquistapace - Associate Professor Digital Design and Production, Judith Cook - Art Professor, Rick Rawnsley - Associate Professor English.

Thank you all for your hard work and dedication to ensure that I left with more knowledge, than that with which I came in. I'm grateful to have shared part of my life with each of you.

Thank you.

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Glenn King

#187 Glenn King, Class of 1984, Staff
(AA Liberal Studies and Director, Network Service and Telecommunications)

COD taught me to play music and work in electronics, gave me an education, found me a wife and gave me a great job to support my family. What can I say about how important College of the Desert is to its students and community? It’s been a part my life for 40 years…

My life at COD began in 1974 after graduating from Indio High School. I was thinking of a career as a music teacher and became a student in COD’s excellent music program as a woodwind major. To help pay for tuition, I landed a job at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway as a steel worker inspecting cables, tramcars and towers. The pay was great and after a year and a half I decided that I would not continue with my planned teaching career. However, working at the Tram kindled a new interest in electronics and in 1980 I returned to COD to enroll in their Circuitry Analysis program.

Before completing my degree, in 1981 I began working at the Desert Sands Unified School District as an electronics technician. I had left COD a second time but it didn’t take long before I realized I missed taking classes and playing music so once again I found myself back in the COD music department performing in the Jazz band, Symphonic band and whichever musical or entertainment event they had. I still took a couple of standard classes here and there and, in 1984, finally graduated with an AA in Liberal Studies. In 1986 I met my future wife Lisa while performing in a dance show call Jazz in 3D. I played in the band while she danced on stage in Theater One now the Pollock Theatre. In 1988 we were married and are raising 4 wonderful children.

In the late 1980’s, personal computers came into education institutions and as an electronic tech I was asked to open an Apple Computer service center within the Desert Sands maintenance department. That expanded into building Apple local talk networks and Novell networks for PC’s at school sites and administration. In 1994, I was deeply involved in a multi-million dollar project to engineer a district-wide microwave computer network which connected all existing DSUSD campuses together. The project was completed in 1996 and in 1997 it received an award from the Smithsonian Institution for “Visionary Use of Information Technology.”

Then in February of 1998 I found myself back at COD, this time as an employee. The college wanted to upgrade their antiquated computer network and I became the Director of Network Services and Telecommunications. In June of 2000, the COD Alumni Association presented me with the “Alumni of the Year Award”. At the awards ceremony I heard whispers of “I Love You” from the audience as the notorious computer virus of the same name has just wreaked havoc with the campus email system.

Now my children are attending COD, getting their education and planning their careers. Ryan and Sarah have already completed their course work, Regan just started and Danny enters this fall.

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