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258 Stories And Counting.

Ira Morris

#68 Ira Morris, Transfer to Cal-State University, Long Beach
(General Studies/Liberal Arts)

My attention was directed toward COD in 1987 by a high school classmate. After taking a tour of the campus and the surrounding communities of Palm Desert and Palm Springs, I chose to attend COD.

I enrolled at COD and played football for the Roadrunners, which prepared me sufficiently to pursue upper division collegiate studies. I was able to earn athletic scholarship offers and interest from various universities, culminating with my decision to attend Cal State University, Long Beach. The faculty and coaching staff of COD imparted lessons and advice to me which I cherish to this day!

I eventually graduated from CSULB with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. I am presently a Sergeant with the Orlando Police Department in Florida, entering my 14th year with the agency.

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Ernesto Gutierrez

#67 Ernesto Gutierrez, Class of 1989
(Liberal Arts Degree)

My experiences at College of the Desert were second to none. As a former COD Football player and Alumni, the lessons learned helped me shape who I am today.

I definitely benefited from scholarships offered to me during my college years. Playing football and attending college went "hand in hand" for me. The support received by all of the football coaches helped me achieve many of my goals in life. I learned how to work hard in order to obtain what I wanted in life. Playing football was a stepping stone to education and real life.

Most of my teammates were going through the same experience as I was, and many of them would have never had the opportunity to attend college and succeed in life if it were not for the football scholarships they received.

I owe a lot of who I am today to College of the Desert and the football coaches. Thank you COD…

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Dean Dowty

#66 Dean Dowty, Class of 1989, Transfer to Utah State University, Staff
(I received my AA in Liberal Studies from COD. I am currently the Head Football Coach and Athletic Coordinator.)

I came to College of the Desert to play football and get my education. I had many choices of other community colleges to choose from, but I liked COD's football program; so I came here.

The time I spent at COD is very dear to me. I made lifetime friends and the football program and my instructors helped me grow as a man. I was lucky enough to earn a full athletic scholarship to Utah State University where I graduated with a BS in Communications. I immediately came back to the desert as an assistant coach.

I have worn many hats at COD, but I believe as a coach I have had the most impact on young students. Athletics has allowed me to have a positive influence on many young men that without athletics would have probably not continued in school. I am so proud of the student athletes that have played for COD and gone on to finish their education at a four year college. We have had many do just that.

COD is a great place for students to grow academically and socially. I am a Roadrunner!!!

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#65 Kevin Vest, Class of 1990
(A.S. Electronics Technology, now Capt. Palm Desert Police Dept.)

My college experience started with COD while in the USMC stationed in Twentynine Palms back in 1987. Little did I know that it would lead to a new career in law enforcement that combined my interest in technology and the criminal justice system.

After completing my AS degree in Electronics Technology at COD, I continued my education and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration of Criminal Justice from National University and transferred to Cal State San Bernardino for a Master’s degree in Public Administration in 1992. I believe that education is a life-long endeavor and earned a certificate in Crime and Intelligence Analysis from UC Riverside in 2011. To this day, I am still taking courses at community colleges because I love merging modern technology into law enforcement.

My life has come full circle now since I have returned to the place where I started college so long ago. It seems like just yesterday I was enrolling at COD for the first time.

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Oscar  Fonseca

#64 Oscar Fonseca, Class of 2002, Staff
(I received a Liberal Arts, Associates Degree in 2002. I am currently the Upward Bound counselor in the main campus, serving the west valley high schools since May 2009. )

My educational journey began in 1989 at the age of seven, when my parents decided to move to the Coachella Valley. My Father, an accomplished upholsterer, and my Mother, a seamstress, decided to raise my sister, Laura, and me in the desert. We moved to the City of La Quinta in 1992 where my parents still have their home.

In 1999, I graduated from La Quinta High School and was accepted to CSU, San Bernardino, Long Beach State and UC Riverside. My Father, being the smart man that he is, had a conversation with me, and as a family we decided that I would attend College of the Desert (COD). I attended COD because of the cost of attendance and so that I would be closer to my family. Little did I know that my Father also knew that every student takes approximately two years of general education, and COD had the better price per unit, I believe it was $13.51 per unit at that time.

On August 19, 1999, I walked on the campus of College of the Desert as a student. I was scared, confused and lost but I also understood that my educational journey was starting in a place that would give me a chance to succeed. Like many student’s I began my college experience taking remedial courses like Eng. 50, Eng. 55 and Reading 50. My journey seemed long and difficult, but when you have professors like Linda Morante, Richard Rawnsley and Gary Bergstrom, I understood that this world had people that cared for students like me.

I was also introduced to the ACES program and people like Adell Bynum, Khanh Hoang and Adrian Gonzales who took me under their wings and became true mentors of my educational journey. These six individuals are the back bone of my educational success.

In 2002, I graduated from COD with my A.A. degree in Liberal Studies. I then transferred to California State University, Fresno and graduated with my B.A. degree in Liberal Studies in 2004. I continued my education at the same institution and received a M.S. degree in Counseling and Student Services in 2008.

The main reasons why I returned to COD was to serve my community. I want my students to see that a local kid, who graduated from La Quinta High School, attended COD, left the desert for eight years and after completing his Master’s degree has returned to make a difference in his community. I want to be an example of persistence and drive.

I feel that getting an education at College of the Desert has given me the ability to inspire others to say “If he can do it, then I can do it TOO.”

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