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Lisa Rossi-Gomez

#135 Lisa Rossi-Gomez
(A.A., Liberal Arts with emphasis on behavioral sciences)

At 50, I reinvented myself. Glutes. Lats. Pecs and Abs. Untold hours in the gym. I’m 110 pounds lighter than I was at 40. I feel better; look better. But COD was my saving grace.

That’s where I lugged a backpack stuffed with No. 2 pencils to take an assessment test and make mom proud.

I was that kid at Palm Springs High School’s Class of ’75 graduation who saw the valedictorian speak and thought, “I??=2ll never be one of those people.” I’d been that kid who started COD and quit in the first semester to get married, and become the only one in my family who didn’t go to college.

I was fine with it, until 50 rolled around. The kids were growing up; I kept thinking of mom. A COD alumnus, she went to school over-and-over as she was raising four kids. I was scared to death to go back, but took that first class in health anyway, and was amazed at my success. Mom said, “Lisa, I knew you could do it.” A few months later, she died.

The rest of the school year was a blur. All I remember is, COD kept me grounded. I turned in assignments, did my work and held down a full-time job. Plenty of times, I cried; felt terrified. But I never once thought of quitting.

I had COD professors who’d say, “It’s going to be OKAY.” I had wonderful support from my husband, son, other family members and friends. I even taped a goofy, “Never Give Up,” poster inside my textbooks a seagull getting its neck squeezed and its feathers ruffled by frog it failed to eat, to keep me from getting swallowed up in self-doubt.

Mom’s been my inspiration, but COD changed me. It gave me self-confidence, self-worth.

I would have never guessed in a million years that I would graduate from college with highest honors and be asked to speak. Well, mom, here I am. Here I am.