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Emma Lopez de Delgado

#258 Emma Lopez de Delgado, Class of 2016
(AS 2016 - Architectural Technology AS 2016 - Architecture)

Emma Lopez de Delgado likes to work with her hands. Her father also worked with his hands, in the fields as a watermelon cutter, to provide for the family of eleven. As a child, Emma spent countless hours creating intricate paper cut outs and dreaming of becoming an architect. Her parents insisted she choose another path, concerned a woman would not succeed in a male dominated industry. So, after finishing high school, Emma put her dreams and aspirations on hold to pursue a vocational degree in computer programming, get married and make family her priority.

Years later, following a move to the Coachella Valley, Emma’s dreams of higher education and career returned. She enrolled in a class at College of the Desert, her sights set on an associate’s degree in

Architectural Technology. Even though financial and transportation obstacles made attending classes very challenging, she was determined not to set aside her dreams once again. Without access to a car,Emma hitched a ride with a friend to get to and from classes. She spent many hours on campus at the computer, making sure to complete her homework before returning home to care for her family.

Although attending college presented many challenges, Emma believes it was a blessing in her life. She credits support from family as her motivation to educate herself and become a better person. “I’m so grateful for my parents who set the example and made me the person I am today”, Emma says. “And for my sisters, who have always been there for me. And especially for my husband and son who have been by my side spoiling me, supporting me, and always ready to pick up the pieces every time I got discouraged.”

Emma also appreciates the many resources available to help students at College of the Desert, the wonderful staff who are eager to assist, and the professors who go beyond their responsibilities to help students succeed. Architecture Professor Bert Bitanga recognized Emma’s talent and determination early on and encouraged her to stick with it. “I’m very, very proud of her”, Professor Bitanga says. “There are many students we see each year in our classrooms, and then there was Emma. Every class she took with me, she excelled. I know how hard she worked and I am certain she will succeed.”

Two years after starting her degree program, Emma made it to the top of her class. She was selected student speaker, graduating with a 4.0 grade point average. At commencement, with more than 25 proud family members alternately crying and cheering her on, she delivered an emotional speech filled with hope and inspiration. “Never give up, she told the largest graduating class in COD history. You can believe in your dreams.” As Emma heads to Cal Poly Pomona to pursue a four year degree in architecture, she knows the challenges are not all behind her. But, she also knows hard work will see her through.

“I can say with certainty that dreams do come true because I am now one step closer to fulfilling mine.”

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Amy Hetherington

#257 Amy Hetherington, Transfer to CSULB
(ADN 2007 Nursing Nursing Faculty)

When I first arrived to the desert with my husband in 2000, I was unsure of what my long term career path would be. We had relocated from Bogota, Colombia and were not only new to the desert, but also to the U.S. I had an undergraduate degree in communications, but was unsure on this career path and could not identify employment opportunities. My first job as an adult in the U.S. was at a locally owned video rental chain. It was fun, it helped pay our bills, but it was not my preferred career path. I luckily had also trained in esthetics in Colombia and was able to eventually find work as an esthetician at a local spa. As I worked in this environment I was becoming very drawn to health sciences. A client encouraged me to look into a career in nursing. The following day was a pivotal moment in my life. I met with a counselor at COD, and soon I was on my way to my career as a nurse. I am forever grateful to the counselors at COD for helping me pursue my education. I am also indebted to the desert community for the many grants and donations given to COD; I was part of a local grant funded cohort of evening and weekend registered nursing program, and graduated with my ADN in 2007. I was able to then transfer to the CSUSB RN-BSN program, which later propelled me into a MSN program. Most recently I graduated from Brandman University with my doctorate in nursing practice and a clinical focus as an adult acute care nurse practitioner. I have worked in many roles at different hospitals and facilities locally in my ten years as a nurse. I am proud to say that I have returned to COD to be a part of the nursing faculty. I am delighted to inspire, educate and develop a passion for the nursing science in our future nurses. For me, it all started here at College of the Desert.

Dr. Amy Hetherington, DNP, APRN, AGACNP-BC

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Courtney Doussett

#256 Courtney Doussett, Staff
(Professor, Kinesiology)

From military forces to college courses, Professor Doussett continues to serve

It’s been a long and very interesting journey to where I am today, but it’s all been worth it to be able to make a difference at College of the Desert.

I served as an Arabic linguist and sergeant in the U.S. Army, where I spent five years in places such as Georgia and Egypt. Those years helped me find my calling. In the Army, I had the opportunity to develop a physical fitness and wellness program for soldiers that were either injured or needed help passing the physical fitness exam. I quickly realized that I wanted to continue to help people in a health and wellness capacity.

The most difficult transition for me was coming out of the military, having a family and two young kids, and trying to get back to school. I really struggled with just getting past the front gate. I finally took the advice of family members and friends to start small, so I began taking a couple online courses at San Bernardino Valley Community College. It took me several years as a part-time student to transfer to Cal State San Bernardino and start attending full-time. I don’t think it ever became easier, but I found more people that supported me along the way.

I can’t say enough amazing things about the counselors, instructors, fellow students, and family that helped me through the process. The G.I. Bill afforded me the opportunity to complete my college education and the Veteran’s Counseling Services helped me stay on course.

As for what led to teaching? Something clicked. It’s really that simple. I had to get field work hours as part of my bachelor’s degree program at CSUSB and ended up doing classroom observations at a local elementary school. I knew I loved the teaching part but still wasn’t exactly sure it was the direction I wanted to go until I ended up interning at COD in the Kinesiology Department. The students, the atmosphere, the discussions. That was it for me. I knew I wanted to teach college students. It felt like home. And it still does.

I am proud to step up for COD, which has helped me pursue my career and can help you, too.

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Veronica Daut

#255 Veronica Daut, Staff
(Counselor in General Counseling)

My first experience at College of the Desert was being a life guard for two years (when they had a pool on campus). I loved seeing the college environment. I went on to study sociology and first worked in Social Services. Then I completed my Master’s in Educational Counseling and I am nearly finished with my Doctorate in Education.

Born and raised in the Coachella Valley, and being an alumni from Indio High School, I knew that I wanted to give back to my community and could accomplish that through education. Currently I am a counselor in general counseling here at COD. I wanted to return and “pay it forward”.

The best thing about COD is being able to work with the local high schools and talk with their students. I used to be in their same situation and I can say that I am a product of the Coachella Valley. I always tell students that they can start at COD and transfer anywhere as long as they put in the work. I also tell students, “What do you want to be? Find out what it takes to get there. It may just be a class, a certificate, an Associate degree or more; but, do what it takes to be the best at it”.

The benefit of education is that it has opened so many opportunities for me in life. COD is a strong foundation to provide those educational opportunities at low cost, if not free. Education allowed me to become a counselor and assist students with their educational journeys. Without education I would not meet the requirements to do the job that I love.

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Warren Horton

#254 Warren Horton, Class of 2016
(Journalism)

College of the Desert served as a guiding light that helped me as a student complete a long sought after life goal.

After 43 years, graduating on May 27, 2016, from College of the Desert was a highlight in my life.

I was born in Long Beach and have lived there as well as Lakewood, Needles, Garden Grove and Indio. During my high school senior year, I was the youngest on-air DJ in the Coachella Valley for a local rock radio station (KREO, 1400am), in Indio. I joined the USAF eight days after high school graduation in 1968, and was honorably discharged as a sergeant in 1972.

When I was discharged from the Air Force, money was scarce so I attended COD to get paid as a veteran and returned to work at KREO. I took a second job at Master Computer Company in Coachella operating the computer system. I was fired from there because I did not have sufficient knowledge of RPG programming. So, in the spring of 1973, I began my studies at COD majoring in electronic technology. Some of the classes I took at COD were EMT, and computer programming (Fortran and RPG). I stopped attending COD in 1975, to enter the work force.

Over the years I held various jobs such as: a certified paramedic for an ambulance company, part-time county firefighter/engineer, audio/sound technician, construction superintendent, computer programmer, copier technician, and a county deputy coroner. I was contracted by Libbot Pool Service of Palm Springs to develop software to manage their pool service company.

I also worked for Allied Communications Inc. (ACI), an audio company in Cathedral City. While I was a student at COD, in the ‘70’s, I actually worked for ACI for years. The owner had asked Dr. Sheneman for a student from the electronics class to intern and possibly go full time. This was a great experience. While there, I got to work with and know Glenn King who is currently the Director of Network Services & Telecommunications at COD. Meeting Bob Hope and Vice-President Gerald Ford was a plus.

I was hired as a deputy coroner and began that career in 1988, at the age of 38. Eventually, the department began to move in the direction of computerization. Once again, in 1997 there was no cost-effective software available to run the department. Utilizing the programming classes I had taken at COD, and my self-taught Basic Language and Alpha Software Xbasic, I was assigned to write a complete software package that would track coroner cases for the entire county, from Riverside to Indio to Blythe. The current Director of the COD Public Safety Academy, Neal Lingle, was my supervisor at the time the software was developed. If not for my COD programming classes, this would not have happened. I retired in 2010.

Before I retired, my sergeant was, and still is, the president of a non-profit western reenactment group called Gunfighters for Hire. When I was getting ready to retire, I was asked to join the group and subsequently requested to be the media officer, since I was computer literate, could take pictures, and could also develop websites.

Having obtained some 60+ units already at COD from 1973 to 1975, I thought it would benefit the organization if I went back to COD to actually learn something about being a media officer. I started back in the spring of 2013 and changed my major to journalism. Most of my classes were dedicated to that major.

I really enjoyed the TV/Film Production classes with Prof. Michael Gladych. His style of teaching replicates the real world of filmmaking. I can’t thank him enough. I was also involved with The Chaparral newspaper during my last two semesters as production manager, and will continue for the fall 2016 semester.

Although my journalism degree has been earned, my journey will probably still continue. As a “senior citizen”, I really enjoyed the learning process and seeing how it has changed over the last 40 years.

It is never too late to get an education. Persistence does pay off. Embrace it and enjoy it.

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