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221 Stories And Counting.

Kimberly Guest

#221 Kimberly Guest, Student
(Psychology AA-T)

Growing up with parents that struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, and being taken away from them, getting placed in foster care, and my mother dying, I had no clue where my future was going. I had gone down the same path and struggled with my own drug addiction for 10 years. I ended up getting pregnant, and that saved my life. I am a single mom. Being a single mother, I thought there was no hope for me. I thought my life was over and that I could never go to college or provide a better future for me or my son. I decided to apply to College of the Desert and my life changed. I had no idea about all the help and resources that were out there for people like me or that were in my situation. I am grateful for all the major help provided at the McCarthy Center where my son attends. I had no clue about raising a child, and what to do at certain ages, and the Child Center has been there for me, helping me, guiding me toward the positive ways of raising him since his first birthday. The CARE/CALWORKS program also encouraged me to stay in school and even come back after a few setbacks. They kept telling me to never give up. Without COD's help there is no telling where I'd be. I'm able to attend college now and work on providing a stable and better future for my family.

Paulina Larson

#220 Paulina Larson, Transfer to CSUSB Palm Desert
(Journalism and Marketing)

Paulina Larson was determined to go to college and succeed. After graduating from Indio High School, she was accepted by every college to which she applied but lacked the necessary financial resources to attend. Thinking her dreams of higher education might be impossible, Paulina enrolled at College of the Desert where she learned about the College Career Center. Counselors there helped her research her options and chart an academic path at COD which would prepare her for transfer while staying at home. One of the required courses identified was journalism so she decided to give it a try. The very first day of class, the professor asked if any of the students would be interested in the on-campus work program with the student newspaper. “By raising my hand, I found my life,” Paulina shared. “That day opened the door to my future and changed my life completely.”

Through work study, Paulina discovered the myriad of jobs available in journalism and media. Two years later, she had completed the required courses for transfer to California State University San Bernardino Palm Desert campus. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in 2011.

Paulina’s dream back then was to work for a high profile, luxury publication. When she saw an advertisement for an opening at a local publishing company she knew this was her chance.

“I was able to translate all of my coursework at COD into relevant work experience on the application,” Paulina declared. “I got a call back as a result.”

She started work shortly thereafter and three years later, this College of the Desert alumna is still floating on air, putting her skills to good use and full of enthusiasm for the future.

“I’m having the time of my life in the career of my dreams,” she said. “Thanks, COD.”

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#219 Alejandra Baragan, Student
(Student, Majoring in Early Childhood Education)

I am currently a College of the Desert student. I've been attending COD for the last three years. I am currently working at the McCarthy Child Development and Training Center. I enjoy what I do at the center.

#218 Joaquin Perez, Student
(Liberal Arts: Social Science and Behavior)

When I started attending College of the Desert back in 2010 and was not sure what I would be doing, I decided to study liberal arts with emphasis in Social Science and Behavior. It is now four years later and my journey has been anything but easy. I had a baby, got married, and moved out to be on our own. All this made school a bit challenging, but with the help that COD provides it wouldn’t have been possible. For example, the best thing that happened to me and my wife, who works and also attends COD, is the McCarthy Family Child Development & Training Center on campus. If the Center were not around to help we would have had a difficult time attending COD and furthering our education while having a child and having to work. The Center helps provide child care for my daughter while we are in class, doing homework, or even working. Now, because all of that was possible I most likely will be graduating in the spring of 2015. I plan to transfer to Cal State San Bernardino to get my Bachelor’s Degree in History with a teaching credential so that I can teach high school students and give back to the community through education.

Luke Horning

#217 Luke Horning
(Attended COD Summer Session to Get Ahead)

Luke Horning always wanted to be his own boss. After graduating from Palm Desert High School in 2005, he enrolled in San Diego State University and went to work painting houses on the side to help pay for classes. Luke’s goal was to complete college in four years so he sought out additional transfer courses that would advance his academic plans. College of the Desert (COD) offered the classes he needed in business and management so he enrolled in summer session to get ahead. “The professors were great and the classes were affordable,” Luke said. “I was able to work while attending which made it possible for me to advance my coursework.”

Thanks to hard work and the availability of transfer courses, such as those at COD, Luke earned his bachelor’s degree in business management in 2009 and opened Luke Horning Paint Company in Palm Desert shortly thereafter.

College of the Desert helped Luke advance his goals for higher education, career and a good life. He recently came back to COD to share his real life business experience with business students.

“I wanted to let students know that it is important to have both education and career goals,” Luke emphasized. “If they focus on completion they can succeed in business and in life.”

Luke is pictured with wife Heather Enos Horning, also a COD alum.

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