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.
I began my career at COD in 1978 as Coordinator of Developmental Education and went on to become Dean of Community Education and Resource Development while also serving as the Executive Director of the COD Foundation. I have also served on the Board of the Alumni Association and was elected to the Governing Board and served as Board President for two years. I had the great fortune to serve as the COD point person in the development of the McCallum Theatre, the Multi Agency Library, the Energy Technology Training Center and many other collaborative projects.
During my tenure at COD I was able to witness how the college changed thousands of lives, and how the college became more fully engaged and integrated with the cultural life of the community as well as play a central role in the economic development strategies of the valley. I will forever be a "Roadrunner" and, to this day, I continue to work with the college to increase college attendance in the valley.
I attended COD from 1991-1999. My first musical production with COD was "Annie." I was 11 and so excited to be a part of such a professional experience. It was the first of many at COD. The two mentors that had the biggest impact on me and helped take my performance to the next level were Dr. Darlene Romano and the late Michele Gaines. These two great women championed me from the very start and gave me the tools to pursue my dream professionally. They also gave me confidence in my performance which allowed me the freedom every actor needs to trust their instincts. Without their encouragement and leadership I would not have experienced the success I have achieved in my career.
My colleagues and I felt so fortunate growing up in the Coachella Valley and having such a tremendous theatre in which to perform in such a beautiful environment.
It has been great coming back to perform at "One Enchanted Evening" for such a great cause, to continue supporting the early Childhood Education Program over the last five years. Thank you, COD for everything you have given me which allowed me to pursue my dreams.
In 2002, I graduated from COD with an Associate Arts degree and transferred to UC Irvine, where I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre. Today I am happy to say that I make my living as a professional singer and dancer. I have performed professionally on cruise ships, for corporate events, conferences, regional theatre, and in other venues.
I met many amazing people at COD who inspired and influenced me including my drama coach and mentor, the late Michelle Gaines. Michelle motivated me to be and do my very best, both onstage and off. Her discipline, advice, and encouragement helped me to stay focused during the toughest of auditions, and molded my beliefs and thoughts about the entertainment business. It also helped me to hone my own skills and talents. If it hadn’t been for Michelle and other key supporters at COD, doors would not have opened for me to be doing what I love today.
In March 2012 I was thrilled to be one of the performers in One Enchanted Evening V, a Broadway-style performance to benefit College of the Desert’s Early Childhood Education Program. I was honored to sing the show’s finale.
Had it not been for the extensive training I received at College of the Desert, I don’t believe I would have built the foundation necessary to move onward and upward in my life and career. Thanks, COD.