When Sheila Trexler graduated from the nursing program at College of the Desert (COD) in 1973, she could have never imagined the twists and turns her career would take. As one of the first nurses employed at Eisenhower Medical Center, which opened that same year, Sheila still remembers the excitement of the hospital’s dedication ceremony. “Mamie Eisenhower was there, as were Bob and Dolores Hope,” she recalls. “It was magical.”
After working five years in the intensive care and emergency department at Eisenhower, Sheila was recruited to run a hospital emergency department in Las Vegas. In that role, she was in charge of administering care in many challenging situations, including the MGM Grand fire of 1980, considered the third worst hotel fire in modern U. S. history. She also continued her education, first at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, eventually earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, and later at the California Western School of Law, specializing in medical malpractice defense.
After earning her law degree, Sheila joined San Diego-based Neil Dymott Attorneys. But it wasn’t long before she was itching to get back to the desert so she talked her partners into opening an office in Indian Wells.
“If ever there were a desert rat, it’s me!” Sheila exclaims. “This office is my baby. A majority of my clients are physicians or other allied health care professionals, some of whom I worked with at Eisenhower all those years ago.”
When Sheila hears someone question the value of community college, she always tells them about the great education she received at COD.
“College of the Desert opened the door to my career in healthcare and changed my life,” Sheila says. “The faculty cared about students as people, as individuals. That makes all the difference.”