#248 Mara Papalas, Class of 2015, Student
(Liberal Arts AA, Specializing in Health Education and Nutrition. Currently working on my Fitness Specialist Certificate.)
I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, spent most of my early life in Michigan, and then moved with my family to Kansas City where I graduated high school. I started college at the University of Iowa, transferred to Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and began my singing career at the same time.
Throughout 13 years in Nashville, I worked many different jobs, while at the same time singing with several bands, and performing solo gig performances as opportunities arose. Also, while in Nashville, I even worked and performed at the renowned Bluebird Café. Then I moved around the country (Santa Monica, Colorado Springs, Tucson) and relocated here to the desert about four years ago. Singing has always been my passion and dream in life. Over the years I have sung with about six bands and recorded my first professional CD, Soulshine. I had a very strong voice and thought I was invincible.
Then, in October 2013 my life changed. I lived right next to the Union Bank on El Paseo that had a major fire. By February, I started having severe vocal cord discomfort. At this time I was doing sales and marketing for a time share company. After many trips to doctors and some misdiagnosis, I was placed on a six week vocal rest and consequently had to go on disability. I could no longer work at my sales jobs. Rather than lamenting that fact, I made the best of my situation.
I had driven by College of the Desert (COD) many times, but it was during this period of my life that I decided to turn in and see what other options there were for me. COD has been terrific in helping me get a handle on the next part of my life. So, I enrolled in classes, graduating in May 2015 with an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts, specializing in Health Education and Nutrition.
After that, I began studies to acquire a Fitness Specialist Certificate. At the same time, I became a certified health coach with Take Shape for Life, working with many clients helping them slim down as they learned how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I am now an exercise and fitness “nut” and want to work for the greater good and continue making a difference in people’s lives. I also pursue volunteering, most recently with Incight Disability Sports, Coachella Valley, and helping with wheelchair tennis at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens. I am committed to my new passions---health, wellness, and giving back to the community!
College of the Desert opened up a whole new world to me. If it were not for College of The Desert and KCOD, I would not currently be the morning show host on MIX 100.5 or the production director for RR Broadcasting. I always secretly dreamed of being on the radio, but I didn’t know where to start. After working in retail for 13 years, I was abruptly laid off and found myself searching for a new and exciting career. I had always wanted to be on the radio, but didn’t think that there was path to a career in radio in the Coachella Valley; until I heard that College of the Desert had a radio station.
Born and raised in the Coachella Valley, I began my career at COD after graduating from Palm Desert High School in 2001. I was a full time student for 3 semesters, but couldn’t find a subject that I really connected with, so I began working full time. I would fit classes into my schedule where I could, but didn’t really know what I was working towards until I heard that College of the Desert had a radio station. As soon as I could, I signed up for “Writing for TV and Radio,” and “Intro to Radio,” which as it turns out, were two classes that would earn me enough credits to graduate.
One afternoon, in my “Writing for TV and Radio," class, Bradley Ryan, a local morning show host visited to talk about careers in radio. He left his card behind in case anyone was interested in an internship, and I jumped at the opportunity.
So, while honing my skills at KCOD and producing my show “The Alternative Stew,” which would end up winning an IBS award that year, I also began an internship at RR Broadcasting. Over the course of the next 4 months, I did everything from sales assistance, to production assistance, to promotions assistance. I learned a lot, and learned it fast. As my internship concluded, so did my career at COD. I graduated and began working at RR Broadcasting as a part time weekend DJ. Within a year, I was doing mid-days on MIX 100.5 and was promoted to production director. A little less than a year later, I was given the morning show on MIX 100.5
In under 3 years, I was able to go from unpaid intern to morning show host, and it would not have been possible without COD. Not only did their radio classes help me focus on the important skills that I would need to be successful, but having access to KCOD and being able to produce my own show gave me the confidence to sit in front of a microphone and open up to the world.
COD, its faculty and staff, especially Professors Gloria Rodriguez and Laurilie Jackson opened the door to a brand new career for me. I not only earned an Associates in Liberal Arts at College of The Desert, but I gained the skills and confidence needed to pursue a job in a very competitive industry.
#246 Christina Corrales-Cotto, Transfer to California State University, Fullerton, Staff
(Studied Administration of Justice;
Staff Member TRIO-DSPS Program)
COD Leads the Way for Me. I have always loved school and been enthusiastic about learning. College of the Desert was the catalyst for me to manifest that love of learning. At College of the Desert I developed a true appreciation for the faculty, staff, and students which made my experience that much greater. I developed the necessary skills to become a confident and successful student. I went on to transfer to California State University, Fullerton, where I received my Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice.
Upon graduating, I returned to the desert and began working as a teller; this began my unlikely career in banking. As life would have it, this career led me back to what I love doing most, learning in a college setting. I achieved my Master of Business Administration from the University of Redlands. I am thankful for my experience at COD, which serves as a reminder that I can be a person who leaves a positive impact on the lives of others. I want to give back the way so many did for me when I was a student. My inspiration to help students has led me back to where it all started for me, College of the Desert! It is a pleasure to be serving as the secretary for the TRIO-DSPS program at COD. I enjoy my job and supporting students to achieve their educational goals. I look forward to each day that I get to help others! Thank you, COD!
During my freshman year of high school I decided to drop out of school and look for a job. I always regretted my decision but didn't feel I had what it took to go back and secure an education. In my 30's I decided to give it a try and walked onto the College of the Desert campus. I was scared and nervous, to say the least. However, I quickly saw that I had tremendous support from all the staff and within a very short period of time I secured a GED and within two years I was walking across the stage to receive an AA in English.
From COD I transferred to UCR and secured a BA in English and shortly thereafter I secured an MA in Psychology. Currently, I am working towards a PhD in Clinical Psychology. I can honestly say that everything I needed to learn in order to succeed I learned at COD. I will forever be grateful to College of the Desert and for the support of every staff member that believed in me when I doubted myself.
After high school, I wasn't really qualified to get into any colleges so I decided to join the Army and put in 4 years. Upon completion of my service, I was ready to give education another try and see what would come of it. Not knowing what I wanted to major in, I took a variety of courses and, with the help of Donni Prince at the BIGHORN Golf Club Charities Veterans Resource Center, I got into the class that changed my life. I took English 1A with Professor Tapleshay and my love for literature and English was born. After a few years of ups and downs, I graduated from College of the Desert and will be completing my education in Montana. Thanks to COD, my love and passion was brought out in the form of literature and writing.