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Aneta Cruz

#173 Aneta Cruz, Class of 2007
(Liberal Arts)

I often wonder what or who influences the path we choose to take in life and the decisions we make. Is it the obstacles that seem to occur so spontaneously and challenge us to be the best we can be? Or is it a multitude of people and their achievements we try to emulate? Perhaps there are as many answers as there are people in the world. For me, it was one singular moment that completely changed the direction of my journey.

In April 2007, only one month before graduating from COD, I thought I had my future planned out. With an acceptance letter from CSUSB in hand, I dreamed of joining the students of the Psychology Department and becoming…what exactly? Hmm. Not so planned out, after all. But it didn’t matter because that one single moment of clear lucidity which would change my destiny was about to happen. My epiphany came while I was reading William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” for my English Composition 1B. The story’s climax brought me to a state of complete awe and ushered in a flood of childhood memories. “I want to do that!” I remember saying to myself. “I want to paint with words, expand the limits of people’s imagination, make them live in different moments at the same time.” I have wanted to tell stories ever since I was a little girl growing up in the Czech Republic, with my nose constantly buried in a book. I admired the authors’ ability to portray an entire world within the four corners of a sheet of paper, and I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to write.

COD’s English Composition 1B revived my love for literature, and the college’s wonderful counselors helped me with all the necessary paperwork to change my major from Psychology to English. After graduating from the College of the Desert, I went on to earn my BA in English Literature and MFA in Creative Writing. And finally, as I’d promised myself, I became a published author. My debut novel, Heartbreak Hotel, was released in September 2013 by Black Opal Books Publishing, and my second novel, The Guardian, will be out in early 2014 by the same publisher.

My dreams don’t end with writing books, however. I learned from my experiences at COD that it is necessary to dream, and to dream BIG. My next big dream is to return to COD and pay it forward by teaching English and guiding others on their path to success.