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255 Stories And Counting.

Lee  Weigel

#128 Lee Weigel, Class of 1974

Attending COD helped round out my life after military service, start my new career and move forward in life.

I had just gotten out of the Navy, after completing three tours to Vietnam, when I came back home to Palm Springs, and joined the Police Department. In those days, you didn’t go to an Academy right away. They gave you a badge and a gun, and said, “Congratulations, you’re a policeman. Go, do your work.”

I could have easily done that. But there was this learning curve; and I felt like I was missing out on a lot. I wanted to continue my education, so COD was the logical place to go.

I’m happy to say my first college experience was at COD. I took College of the Desert’s police science classes, and graduated with an A.A. in 1974. From there, I went to the Police Academy; and it was all invaluable. I studied criminal and constitutional law, evidence collection and all those things to gain the knowledge to do a good job and advance. I moved up the ranks and I obtained my BA in Business Management. I had the privilege of serving Palm Springs as Chief-of-Police from 1997 to 2002. I also served on the Palm Springs City Council from 2007 to 2011. I have been a consultant and interim Police Chief in Desert Hot Springs and Banning.

College of the Desert inspired me to do more. Today, I am an executive for an international security firm. My wife, Marie, and I are experiencing life with two young, school-aged boys, Chris, 8, and Alec, 10. Learning never ends!

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Kippy Laflame

#127 Kippy Laflame
(Executive Assistant COD Foundation)

From Community College graduate to COD Foundation staff member.

In my second year of University my mother became very ill. Dad asked me, as the eldest, to come home and take care of my mother and seven siblings. After two years of nursing and motherhood the last thing I wanted to do was go back to school, so I didn’t, something I regretted for years. I moved away, went into sales and marketing and eventually got married.

When my husband was transferred to the U.S., I took the opportunity to go back to school and get my degree. I enrolled as a full-time, Business Administration, 36 year old student at Oakland Community College in Bloomfield Hills, MI and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

Apart from getting married, it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I became an Accounting Tutor as well as a Peer Tutor for an ESL Creative Writing classes. After my experience in the Community College system my self-esteem soared. I’ve just completed my first year as a staff member with the COD Foundation. I am thrilled that everyday my work helps students achieve their dreams too.

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Irene  Ferro

#126 Irene Ferro, Transfer to California State University Los Angeles
(education (ECE))

I have been attending COD since 2007. At first I wasn't sure what classes to take, even though I knew what field of education I wanted to get into. I started taking my general education classes and joining clubs such as the Latina Leadership Network club and Folklorico club. The club advisers answered my questions about classes or anything else.

As the years went by I got interested in more clubs such as World Beat Club and of course my favorite,the ECE Club. I'm still in that club as of right now. Our adviser,Mrs. Greene, has helped me out a lot with any questions that I have. Last semester I got my certificate for finishing the ECE fastrack and then I got into the Honor Roll. I was and am very happy about my achievements. I also got my assistant permit, but that's still on its way. What I'm going for right now is my AA and I hope to be done soon. The staff at COD have helped me so much, and for that I give thanks.

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Edgar Rivera

#125 Edgar Rivera , Student
(Drug and Alcohol Studies / Counseling)

I have come a long way in the past five years. I am a recovering drug addict who is looking to help and make a change in the addicted community. I feel I have a lot to offer this community with my life experiences and soon to be professional experience. I plan to graduate within two to three years and join the profession of Drug and Alcohol Counseling. I will be a first generation college graduate and my family and few friends are proud that I am achieving my goal.

Meg Walling

#124 Meg Walling
(Attended in the1970's and 2009-2012)

Mine is a modest story that will have some meaning to people who may be thinking about following life dreams at age 60. I visited the Coachella Valley on a post-college adventure 40 years ago, and stayed. I’ve always led a rather creative life, but it blossomed into a full-blown art career, thanks to College of the Desert.

I ran a pottery studio, painted needlepoint canvases, managed outdoor arts festivals and even got a Master’s degree in clinical psychology when my youngest left for college. For a decade, I had a private practice as a licensed marriage therapist. All the while, I looked at art through the lens of others.

The tables turned in 2007 when my appendix burst. I saw how life can end in a flash, and while recuperating, decided to go back to my passion. In the '70's, I'd taken every visual arts class that COD offered. This time, College of the Desert classes by artists David Einstein and Judith Cook inspired me. I've always been creative, but COD gave me the technical skills I needed to produce paintings and prepare for an art show.

Now, I’m selling my art through my personal website. My work has appeared in group gallery shows across the desert and it has been selected for several juried Palm Springs Art Museum exhibits. In 2011, I won The Art Colony Award at the Artists Council Exhibition, an annual show at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

What has COD done for me? It brought me back to where my heart is.

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