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258 Stories And Counting.

Pablo  Castro

#106 Pablo Castro, Student

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.

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Andrew Campbell

#105 Andrew Campbell, Student

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.

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John  Allen II

#104 John Allen II, Class of 2007
(A.S. in Fire Technology)

My dad, grandfather and great uncle were all firefighters. I wanted to be one, too. As a kid, my two younger brothers and I practically grew up in a firehouse. It was second nature, for us all, to pick firefighting for a lifelong career.

As soon as I graduated from Ramona High School, I took numerous fire tests until I was hired by the Borrego Springs Fire Protection District when I was 19. At the time, I put college on the back-burner to work full-time. But in 1993, when I trained to become a paramedic, that all changed for me. I realized I needed a college degree, if I wanted to advance and move up the ranks.

I’d gone to a couple of community colleges in the Riverside and San Diego region before that, but it was COD’s Public Safety Academy that really inspired me. I got my A.S. in Fire Technology there in 2007.

Today, I’m the Fire Chief of Palm Springs Fire Department. It’s been an amazing run. After decades of service, I’ve never grown weary of helping people in times of need and I haven’t stopped learning.

Every day I wake up, wanting to help my fellow man. It’s been a lifelong journey that I’m proud of.

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#103 Allison Feist, Student
(Theatre Major)

I have been attending Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa finishing up three years, and I am graduating this 2012 Spring Semester. The one field I have always been unable to fit into my Crafton Studies, is coincidentally also my major - Theatre. I started attending COD about a year ago to finish up my Theatre classes before I transfer, and ended up meeting some amazing teachers, making some great friendships, and getting a part in the spring play. I am so glad I decided to come to COD in conjunction with my other school.

Earnest Murphy

#102 Earnest Murphy, Class of 2009
(Communications Major)

I attended COD from 2007-2009. I was a member of the football team under Head Coach Dean Dowty and enjoyed every bit of my experience in Palm Desert .

While in high school, I never considered going to junior college. I actually looked down on people who decided to go to any JC. Little did I know that when my time came to graduate, I would be the next one to apply to a junior college. I didn’t go to community college because of grades or lack of acceptances to colleges and universities; I chose it because I realized that going to COD was the best choice for me.

I was only 17 when I graduated and realized that I wanted to play college football. I didn’t have any scholarship offers and felt that being a walk-on to any program would be tough so I sat and talked with my parents about what would be the best opportunity for me. Going to school out-of-state cost an arm or a leg, but community college in state would be beneficial to me not only for maturity and athletic purposes, but financially. So I made the choice and came to COD.

Over those next two years, I played football and was part of the best and closest team I’ve ever played on and wouldn’t have done anything different to change it. The coaches there kept their world and supported the players in any way they could and in return, as a team, we did our best out there on the field. We won 18 games in the two seasons I was there.

While at COD, I met a lot of lifelong friends that I still talk to daily. I brag about my time there. I tell people that I wish COD was a four year school because I enjoyed it so much and met some of the best people from different parts of the country such as Florida, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and even different parts of California.

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