As a child growing up in the desert, I had my share of difficulties; as many kids did. I grew up in a broken home consisting of my mother, a step father, and three half sisters. It was a hard life, but we all "made do" with what had been given to us. The weeks leading into my high school graduation were difficult as my father left the house just before the death of my mother. These events left my three siblings and I orphaned and seeking direction. Seeing that I had been raising my sisters pretty much their whole lives, I decided to fight for full guardianship. The courts ruled in my favor with many stipulations; one of which was to attend college.
I quickly enrolled in the Culinary Arts program at COD where I remained until I had fulfilled the requirements for an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Management. During my second year at COD, a performance by the COD percussion ensemble sparked a fire in me, causing me to pursue an Associates in Music at COD following receipt of my Culinary Degree. I have continued on to receive both a Bachelor's and Masters Degree, and am now working towards my Doctorate. I would never have had the opportunity to pursue advanced degrees if not for the educational beginning I received at COD.
As the proud Director of Strings at Palm Springs High School I am able to share my love of music with over 200 students each year while also serving as the Conductor of the Buddy Rogers Youth Symphony and the Strings Instructor for the Hi-Desert Cultural Center in Joshua Tree. As part of my efforts to give back to COD and the community, I perform as a percussionist for the Coachella Valley Symphony, a violinist for the Joshua Tree Phil Harmonic, and a guitarist at Our Savior's Church. My sisters have also gone on to do great things in their lives. One has graduated college, one is currently enrolled at COD, and the third is in high school working hard on her own education.
While life is not always easy, I know firsthand that it is your choice to determine the outcome. If you look at a person for what they are, that is what they will remain. But if you look at a person for what they could be, that is what they will become. I will always be grateful to College of the Desert for opening the door to a life of possibilities.
Jason Powell, M.Mus., BME., Doctoral Candidate. Director of Strings PSHS, Conductor-Buddy Rogers Youth Symphony