I am a Coachella Valley native and I love our desert community. When I graduated from Palm Springs High School, I decided to attend College of the Desert, but wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life. I eventually determined that nursing was my path, but I also had another calling; the U.S. Army.
Once I was accepted into COD's nursing program, I found out I was being deployed to Germany. I informed COD that I was going to give up my slot in the program, but that I wanted to resume my studies when I returned, if possible.
I spent nine amazing years in the Army, first deployed to Germany in 2003. I served subsequent tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, where I worked as a surgical tech for the military doctors there. Of course, my time in the service delayed my pursuit of a degree, and when I returned as Sgt. Moreno, I decided to use my GI Bill and attend nursing school as I had originally planned.
Thanks to the support I received from COD's Veterans Affairs Program, I was able to transition back, and I received my degree in 2007. I am now working in the intensive-care unit at JFK Memorial Hospital. I love what I do.
There is no question that nursing is a challenge, but I look at it this way: I am working for those of us who didn't get to come home and realize their dreams. Thanks to COD, mine came true.
School had never been my thing. In fact, I tested out of high school early so I could go join the Marine Corps sooner. I was 17 when I went to boot camp. Over the course of the next five years, I went all over the country. I was trained to inspect and repair T/AV-8B attack jets. I did two years with the military police. I got married. I had a son. When my five year contract was up and it was time for me to get out of active duty, I realized that even with all my various trainings and certifications, I knew nothing about civilian life.
The transition from military to civilian life was hard for me. Finding a decent job was difficult. I didn’t have enough formal education to actually land a job in anything that I would consider career worthy.
After a few months, another employee and fellow veteran clued me in to College of the Desert, and the resources that were available to me with the Montgomery G.I. Bill that I had opted into during basic training, all those years ago. I went straight to COD the next day and went right to the Veterans Affairs Office. Ms. Prince told me about the Public Safety Academy Basic Peace Officer Training program. I decided right there that I wanted to make a career in Law Enforcement.
The PSA gives me a place where I can put my military training and experience to use in a manner that is also preparing me for a career in a field that I’m very interested in. The Veterans Affairs office helps keep me up to speed with all that I need to do to receive the maximum benefits that I’m entitled to. My family and I are extremely grateful for all that COD has done for us.
After graduating from COD, I moved to the SF Bay area and worked in the restaurant industry as a manager and consultant. I served in the U.S. Navy for two years during
Vietnam and afterwards earned my BS and MBA at CSU,Hayward. I began teaching business courses at COD in 1974. While working at COD, I also earned my Juris Doctor from the University of La Verne College of Law. My service at COD included division chair of several departments and Dean before retiring in 2007. I had the honor of coordinating the $346M bond campaign (Measure B) in 2004 and serving as the interim Executive Director of the COD Foundation during my last year at COD. I will always appreciate the wonderful life that attending, working and playing at COD provided for me and my family. Additionally, my wife, Pamela, and my son, Rick, Jr. are COD graduates.
I was serving two years in the Marine Active Reserves program, when a friend told me about the COD Public Safety Academy. I signed up right away. Before that, I had been stationed at Camp Pendleton, working in supply upkeep for the U.S. Marine Corps. My four year enlistment included tours to Iraq and Kuwait.
I felt that by becoming a police officer, I can ensure my children will grow up in a safe environment. I grew up in Indio, so I feel like I’m also keeping the place where I was raised secure.
Financial aid and veteran benefits have helped make costs to go to the Public Safety Academy affordable. It helps that COD is close to home and offers classes in the evenings. That way, I can work full-time during the day. At work, or at school, I’m never far from the children or my wife, Olivia.
I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. My parents were very proud of me when I joined the military. Now they’re doubly proud because I’ll be the first in my family to graduate with a college degree.
I’m grateful for all the support I’ve received from Veterans Affairs and COD.
Contractors used to call me for painting jobs. I worked at Starbucks, too. I enrolled in the Public Safety Academy at College of the Desert because I wanted more for myself and my family. Now, I’m in my third year at COD seeking to become a Firefighter Paramedic. I’ve always looked up to the firefighters, and what they contribute to us all. I too want to help people and save lives.
Fire Captain, Dela Cruz, at COD has been a great inspiration to me. He taught me, “If you want it, go get it.” He’d say, “Learn the material, so you will be successful.” I followed Captain Dela Cruz’ advice, and was very proud to get a scholarship from the Fire Academy for improved work, high grades and test scores. Earning a scholarship made me proud and helped me to continue to study hard.
Having a college degree is important to me. I look forward to accomplishing my goals and contributing to my community.