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.
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.
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.