I moved to the Coachella Valley in 2004 and was thrilled to join the COD family in 2006. I love my job and get to work with the most caring and dedicated faculty and staff around. I'm happy to StepUpForCOD and really enjoy reading the inspiring stories of our students.
My dad, Richard Pena, is a booster club member of C.O.D. and I remember going to all of the football, baseball, and basketball games as a kid. When I graduated from high school, C.O.D. was like going home and I have always felt like part of the C.O.D. family. While at C.O.D., I joined the school newspaper and the track team as a pole vaulter. As coincidence would have it, I met my future wife in the weight room at C.O.D. Although my wife, Letty, was from Coachella Valley High School and I was from Indio High School, cross-town rivals, at C.O.D. we were one.
After I graduated from C.O.D. with a A.A. degree in Liberal Studies, I transferred to the University of California, Riverside, where I graduated with a B.A. degree in Studio Art with an emphasis in photography. I became the photo editor of UCR's college paper. College of the Desert prepared me for success as they gave me a great foundation of knowledge and skills to complete my Studio Art degree program and launched me into my photography career.
After being a photojournalist for 21 years, I am now a freelance photographer living in Beaumont, CA.
Thanks College of the Desert, for being like family for me!
Upon graduating from Palm Springs High School in 1986, I planned to attend San Diego State University, but later decided to remain in the desert for personal reasons. Continuing my education was important, so I enrolled in classes at COD and also worked full-time.
At one point, I worked three jobs and carried a full load of classes. Ironically, this is when I performed my best! I was uncertain what I wanted to major in, so I took a very broad range of classes and discovered marketing and accounting principles came naturally to me. While attending COD, I also enjoyed playing on the volleyball team.
The counselors at COD were very helpful in getting me on the right track to transfer to California State University San Bernardino, Palm Desert Campus when it was still part of the COD campus.
I am proud to be a graduate of College of the Desert and am grateful I was able to gain personal and academic confidence without having to relocate away from the desert.
I'm returning to college after 32 years away.
My first go-round in 1976-1980 was in Agriculture with an emphasis in Pre-Vet medicine. Ultimately, I declared Animal Science as my major. It's a whole new world these days!
I'm climbing back up on my own feet after stumbling badly with a DUI back in Nov. 2008. After 32 yrs of drinking and driving culminating in a horrific crash where no one was injured or killed...and three years of unemployment, and sobriety, I decided to try college again. I was at a " REAL" Low!
My decision to try Theater Arts resulted in me auditioning for a play on campus and receiving an ensemble part in the spring production of Summer and Smoke.
My experience at COD so far has been amazing. Everyone I meet is kind and helpful!
When I thought I was lost in life, desperate, and alone...I now have a girlfriend, a full life of learning and commitment to excellence, part-time handyman jobs, and a supportive landlord who gives me a place to live while returning to school.
I owe, in part, my new found happiness to the College of the Desert and all who have been supportive to me! I no longer worry about the things I cannot change, I have the courage to change those things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference!
I still remember the thrill of seeing my first computers in elementary school. Today, I’m an entrepreneur and proud alumnus of College of the Desert (COD) and have been able to follow my passion all the way to the top of the high tech industry. But it hasn’t been easy. When I graduated from high school, I took the Greyhound bus to COD with nothing but a backpack and a trunk with everything I owned in it. Now I’m running Network Solutions Provider (NSP), one the fastest growing technology integrators in the country. And it started at College of the Desert.
As a basketball student athlete at COD, I learned discipline and determination and earned the Charles Spartro Student Athlete Award. I was able to put that drive to work after graduating and transferring to a four year college in northern California. I could see the Oracle Building from campus. That view became my vision for the future.
Nearly fifteen years later, I launched my own internet provider company and was able to land a series of partnerships with major telecommunications companies.
I was named among the top ten most influential African-American entrepreneurs in the United States by Inc. Magazine in 2011 and 2012, and my company also made Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 List the last two years running.
It was College of the Desert that helped pave the way for my future. Support from Donni Prince in the Veteran’s Office as well as Coach Springer and Coach Marman in the Athletics program helped encourage and push me to realize my dreams.