#111 Misti Santana, Class of 2004, Transfer to University of California, Santa Barbara
(A.A., Business Administration
Not having much of an interest in school, I took a long break after I graduated high school in 1988. Thirteen years and three kids later, I found myself wanting a better life for my kids and myself, so I became a FT student at COD in the Fall of 2001.
Taking those first steps was terrifying. But the great staff and wonderful student resources here made the transition easy. The sense of pride that came with successfully working towards my goal changed the experience from a scary one to an exciting one.
We are truly a COD family, as I'm proud to say that not only me, but all three of my kids have also "attended" COD. The two youngest haven't earned a degree yet, but they did graduate from the amazing Child Development Center. We've all got a way to go towards reaching our ultimate goals, but we take it one step at a time, and couldn't have done it without COD.
When I moved to Palm Desert the summer of 1999, my first thought for furthering my career in an educational setting was College of the Desert. I was lucky enough to find a position at the college. In the office where I first worked, we assisted faculty.
Later I found a position as an administrative assistant in the Counseling office, and I worked into a career where I now assist students, which, even after 12 years at COD, is a heart-felt pleasure.
There are quite a few areas one can "Step Up” for COD. One in which I’m involved is giving a small donation of my monthly income towards the Margo Capuano Scholarship. Margo was a friend who worked at the college for 12 years. Soon after retiring, she passed away. I’m happy to be able to give in her honor.
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.