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258 Stories And Counting.

Jim  Berg

#116 Jim Berg, Staff
(President’s Circle Member; Dean, Arts & Sciences)

I believe in the mission of the community college so much that I work at COD, and I give a portion of my salary to support the college. COD is THE place in the Coachella Valley to start or re-start your path in higher education. The faculty and staff care about student success, and they change lives every day. I am proud to work with them and support them daily.

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Robert Dennis Enriquez

#115 Robert Dennis Enriquez, Student
(Psycology as a transfer student from University of Southern California.)

Passionate, hardworking, loving, dedicated and forgiving are a few things that I have been described to be. I am passionate in what I set out to do. That is why I am back in college at the ripe old age of fifty five. I have always believed in a hard day’s work and sometimes nights. My position as Director of Disabled Student Services at the World Education is my passion and venue to help others faced with a disability. My dedication is to myself in being the best husband, father, grandfather and community leader as humanely possible. It was not always this way.

It has been twenty years since I was involved in a life threatening boating accident which left me completely blind. During a race to Catalina Island I crossed a wake of a 400,000 ton oil tanker. The impact of the wake flipped my boat while traveling at 85 miles per hour. I was fished out of the sea and helicoptered to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California where I spent the next ten days in a coma clinging to life. When I woke up I was surrounded by names without faces. I did not remember what had happened and I was unable to see. The accident left me blind.

After ten months of recovery I knew I was faced with many new challenges in life. I sought help in dealing with my limitations. The recommended treatment allowed me to become better aware of what my limitations were and I was able to set new personal goals. I enrolled in classes for the blind at the Braille Institute of Los Angeles, California where I learned to manage my life as a newly blind person. I then became an instructor of sensory awareness and mobility training. I enjoyed the opportunity to help others who were faced with similar challenges as me. I was then honored with an invitation from U.S. Congressman Marty Martinez to work in Washington D.C. as a congressional lobbyist for the rights of citizens with disabilities. My experience in the Capitol was very fulfilling as I sincerely believe I made a difference in thousands of lives of those living with disabilities.

In year 2000 I was chosen as a candidate for experimental optic nerve reconnection surgeries. After twenty four successful surgeries I am now partially sighted with 20/500 sight in each eye. Today, with the assistance of technology I am able to appreciate the success of a new career and the furthering of my formal education. It is my goal to continue to be of service to those who are challenged with a disability. I am confident I would have not had this opportunity if not for the professional help I was able to receive and for those who believed in me.

Now, it is my turn to give back to a community who was there for me when I was in need. As a doctor of psychology I will continue to work with those who are newly faced with a disability. This specialty is needed in our aging community and I have my sight on filling that need. In addition, the difference I can make through education using my personal experiences, developed skills of motivation and a formal education I will be able to better reach out to thousands of citizens faced with blindness to encourage them in pursuing their academic goals. This is my promised legacy and it can be realized with your investment in me. Together we will make a difference.

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#114 Linda Krajewski, Staff
(Adjunct Faculty, Psychology)

I truly enjoy having the opportunity to help COD students reach their hopes and dreams.

#113 Elizabeth Goold, Transfer to Cal-State University, Long Beach, Staff
(Assistant Director of Clinical Services)

I am currently the Assistant Director of Clinical Services at College of the Desert. Community college is why I am here today. It led to my Bachelor's and then my Master's degrees.

I was born the daughter of a diplomat, which led to traveling around the world and changing countries every few years. When I was 11, I asked to go to boarding school, in England, and my parents agreed that this would be best for me and my siblings in order to afford us more stability. Between the ages of 12 and 22, I had decided to make England my home. However, I was caught working illegally and forced to move to the U.S. I never considered the U.S. as my home as I had only lived here once before as an elementary school child. It was the first time I had experienced culture shock.

Four years later, I found myself the single parent of two children and a high school drop out without any job skills. Realizing my desperate situation, I enrolled at Pasadena City College and earned my RN degree. I could have never imagined that I would end up one day in such a wonderful job at COD. Believe me when I say, "If I can do it, you definitely can!"

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Dr. Sherry Ellison

#112 Dr. Sherry Ellison
(general education and psychology)

COD was the first step on the path to my successful career as a clinical psychologist. I was 39 years old and had always worked in the hospitality business. One day a server asked me to read a term paper she had written for a class at COD. I was so surprised she was attending college. She told me it was really fun and I could do it too. Astonished, I told her I had no formal education except a high school diploma. "Go speak to a counselor, they will help you" she advised. So I did.

Giving a lot of thought to what I would like to do I decided to pursue psychology. When registering for the first class I had made the goal of becoming a clinical psychologist.

This seemed over zealous to family and friends since I hadn't even taken one class yet and it would require a Ph.D. Well, eleven years later I received a Doctorate of Philosophy degree in psychology.

My career has been not only exciting but very fulfilling. I have worked at the Betty Ford Center. I currently work at Desert Regional Medical Center in the emergency department doing crisis intervention, and have a private practice as well.

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