A class in auto repair opened the door to a better life and career for College of the Desert’s first female Automotive Instructor, Dorothy Anderson.
Born and raised in Hollywood, Florida, Dorothy’s family relocated to Southern California in 1989. She rode the bus two hours to and from school each day, returning home promptly after classes to work on the family’s ranch. Dorothy struggled in high school. She eventually graduated from Continuation School and alternated between working low-end, part-time jobs and living on welfare to support her daughter.
She longed for a well-paying job and to become self-sufficient. Thinking she could at least save some money by learning to repair her own car, she enrolled in a community college auto mechanics program. Instead, she found her future. “The decision to enroll in the automotive program changed my life,” Dorothy says. “I was hooked from the first day.”
Like many students, Dorothy worked full-time while attending school part-time. Over the course of five years she mastered the skills and accumulated the credits needed to earn an Associate of Science degree in automotive technology. Dorothy immediately began working in a variety of auto repair shops in the area and also became a part-time instructor in the automotive program at College of the Desert.
A decade later, Dorothy joined the College as a full-time instructor, helping to teach and mentor students who struggle with many of the same challenges she faced so many years ago. As an instructor, Dorothy sees many students struggle with outside forces competing for their time and attention which can dampen their chances for success. She helps them organize their time and encourages them to stay focused on completing their studies, serving as an empathetic and truly knowledgeable mentor. “I know they can overcome challenges and succeed,” Dorothy explains. “Because it happened to me.”