Octavio Rocha always wanted to be an architect but had to overcome many obstacles on the way to achieving his academic and career goals. He came to the Coachella Valley in 1995 in search of a better life. He enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) summer classes at College of the Desert (COD) and then took the assessment test and talked to a counselor about charting an academic path toward a degree in architecture.
Like most students at the College, Octavio juggled the difficult and competing priorities of working full time while also enrolled in classes. He attended COD on and off, working in local restaurants to support himself. Many times he didn’t think he would be able to make it through. Counselors and faculty mentors at the College provided encouragement and the confidence he needed to continue. Summer internships in the office of local architect and COD Adjunct Faculty Instructor Lance O’Donnell also provided critical real world work experience. With discipline and determination, six years later Octavio had met and surpassed the obstacles that had at first seemed unsurmountable.
“Access to quality instruction and relevant work experience allowed me to accomplish my academic goals in order to graduate and transfer to pursue my four year degree,” Octavio says.
Following graduation from College of the Desert with an Associate Degree in Architecture in 2001, Octavio transferred to Cal Poly Pomona where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture in 2006 and began work as a professional architect. In 2008, like the majority of community college alumni, he returned home to work in the desert where it all started because this is where he felt most comfortable. “College of the Desert helped make my dream a reality,” Octavio says. “It changed my life.”