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#138 Falon McLachlan, Class of 1984, Transfer to University of California, Santa Barbara
(CERTIFICATE/ALTERATIONS 1978 AA HOME ECONOMICS 1983 AA INTERIOR DESIGN 1984)

Community College can help all ages benefit from the opportunity to learn and discover.

I missed the chance to attend college directly out of high school due to financial and family demands. Our family moved from Los Angeles to Palm Desert in 1976. I soon started taking classes at C.O.D.

I first worked toward a Certificate in Child Development. My goal was to establish a Montessori School in the desert, similar to the one our daughter attended in Santa Monica. Again, economic and family demands made that effort impractical. I next acquired a Certificate in Alterations, always working and caring for family while taking classes. Originally, I hoped to become a teacher. I worked on an AA in Home Economics. The Home Economics course materials required a class in Interior Design, which led me to a career that brought together my artistic talents and skills in homemaking. I still enjoy my work in the field of design!

I received my AA in Home Economics in 1983, followed by my AA in Interior Design in 1984. I think my story shows the power of education to lead someone into a career. I found my future because of the College of the Desert!

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#137 Janette Price-Fletcher, Class of 1982
(A.A. Business Administration A.A. General Business)

I have been a teacher in Southern California for twenty years and began my education journey at COD. I studied business at COD, but soon realized that teaching was the right path for me. I have used the skills gained in my business courses every single day as a teacher. Not one class was wasted.

I had the pleasure of having excellent instruction and the encouragement of many fine professors and staff at the college. I am currently in the process of earning two Masters degrees -- one in education and the other in humanities. I am an "A" student in both universities and proud to say that my academic path began at a California Community College.

Thank you COD and all the staff and instructors who assisted me in achieving my goals.

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#136 David Mace, Student
(Art Classes for Professional Growth)

I'm taking art classes at COD for professional growth. As a game programmer, I'm relatively at the mercy of artists to do things 'right'; which never happens. So, then either I have to fix it, or try to get them to fix it. Eventually my aim is to do the art myself, and cut this annoyance out of my professional life.

Lisa Rossi-Gomez

#135 Lisa Rossi-Gomez
(A.A., Liberal Arts with emphasis on behavioral sciences)

At 50, I reinvented myself. Glutes. Lats. Pecs and Abs. Untold hours in the gym. I’m 110 pounds lighter than I was at 40. I feel better; look better. But COD was my saving grace.

That’s where I lugged a backpack stuffed with No. 2 pencils to take an assessment test and make mom proud.

I was that kid at Palm Springs High School’s Class of ’75 graduation who saw the valedictorian speak and thought, “I??=2ll never be one of those people.” I’d been that kid who started COD and quit in the first semester to get married, and become the only one in my family who didn’t go to college.

I was fine with it, until 50 rolled around. The kids were growing up; I kept thinking of mom. A COD alumnus, she went to school over-and-over as she was raising four kids. I was scared to death to go back, but took that first class in health anyway, and was amazed at my success. Mom said, “Lisa, I knew you could do it.” A few months later, she died.

The rest of the school year was a blur. All I remember is, COD kept me grounded. I turned in assignments, did my work and held down a full-time job. Plenty of times, I cried; felt terrified. But I never once thought of quitting.

I had COD professors who’d say, “It’s going to be OKAY.” I had wonderful support from my husband, son, other family members and friends. I even taped a goofy, “Never Give Up,” poster inside my textbooks a seagull getting its neck squeezed and its feathers ruffled by frog it failed to eat, to keep me from getting swallowed up in self-doubt.

Mom’s been my inspiration, but COD changed me. It gave me self-confidence, self-worth.

I would have never guessed in a million years that I would graduate from college with highest honors and be asked to speak. Well, mom, here I am. Here I am.

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Antoinette Canchola

#134 Antoinette Canchola, Student
(Retail Management Certificate Program)

I’m big on school. I always liked and did well in school. I even started college out of high school, but quit. The idea of making money was just too appealing to resist. Then reality hit: You can’t get too far on $6.96 an hour. I decided the only way I could go to the top was to get the tools I needed to set me apart.

My employer, Food 4 Less, and COD did that for me. I started at Food 4 Less as a courtesy clerk. Now, I’m a customer-first manager. Thanks to the retail management certificate program that’s offered by the School of Business, Technical and Workforce Education, I’m making enough as a manager to live comfortably. I have two new cars. I take vacations when I want. I can support my family. I have only been in my new position one year, and I’ve already interviewed for a promotion. My training at COD has helped me grow by leaps and bounds. It’s that learning and training that set me apart; what gave me a competitive advantage.

Food 4 Less paid for my tuition and books; and the California Grocers Association will be giving me an Awards Party and a $100 cash honorarium. But, what COD did for me is more priceless than that. I got to hear professors from the field tell me, “I’m not going to let you fail.” And that meant the world to me.

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