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258 Stories And Counting.

#33 Antoine (Tony) Clerc, Staff
(Adjunct Faculty Political Science & History Faculty Advisor - COD Student Veterans Organization)

College of the Desert has been a big part of my academic and professional success. I first enrolled at COD immediately after leaving the United States Army. With no clear direction about my future, COD gave me the opportunity to enjoy different experiences and explore different interests. Three years later, I graduated and moved to Northern California to attend the University of California, Davis.

COD was instrumental in developing my abilities in order for me to attend such a great university. UC Davis was a stepping stone for a master’s degree from Boston University where I studied Political Science, specializing in International Relations. Since 2008 I have been teaching political science and history classes at College of the Desert and I can credit my basic educational foundation to my years at this great institution. I cannot imagine a better way to give back to this community than by teaching in the same classrooms I sat in as a COD student many years ago.

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Sarah Lara-Toney

#32 Sarah Lara-Toney, Class of 2004, Staff
(I received my AA in Liberal Arts in 2004. Currently I work at the Foundation as the Title V Resource Development Coordinator)

My family moved to the Coachella Valley from overseas in 1999 and I came to COD because I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do after high school. I thought I wanted to be a Creative Writer, but ultimately majored in European and American History.

College of the Desert runs in my family! My sister was taking classes here when I graduated high school and suggested I fill out the application and take the assessment test. While I was obtaining my MA from San Diego State University my dad came to teach Psychology for the College as well.

It's amazing to see how much the campus has grown and changed over the years. It's been fantastic to rejoin the community where I took my first steps as a student.

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Richard Cardinale

#31 Richard Cardinale, Student
(Liberal Arts/Nursing)

I moved from New Jersey to the Coachella Valley in 2008 and six months later I was taking classes at College of the Desert. In my first career life I was working with computers when computers were first being developed. When my Dad’s health started failing I came out here to help my Mom with nursing responsibilities. I took a break one day, and went to the driving range at College of the Desert and before long I found myself speaking with the Golf Pro about taking classes at the college. So I started taking a golf class and basic mathematics.

Now I’m a full-time student getting ready to declare my major in Nursing. I have enough credits to graduate with an A.A. in Liberal Studies but nursing is what I really want to do. The college has helped me achieve my goal of a college education and degree and because of that I am a proud and successful student.

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Brett Baatrup

#30 Brett Baatrup, Student
(A double major in accounting and finance.)

I’ve had one career and am working on another as a double major in accounting and finance. I began attending COD in August 2010 and I’m on track to graduate in summer 2012.

Before I started at COD, I was in the Marine Corps stationed at 29 Palms. I did five years as a tanker. Wherever infantry goes we go with them as support. I’ve been to Iraq twice. I just finished my inactive reserve in June. I would consider joining back up. I miss it. I made great friends. But I do have good friends at COD, too.

It wasn’t until last year I really decided on my double major. Last year I took a finance class with Professor Cochran. He was a VP of a bank and a big trader. He really influenced me and I really enjoy my finance courses. I still really like accounting but want to do something with finance.

Thanks to COD and Professor Cochran, I’m looking forward to finishing up my college courses and getting out there to put my skills to work… again.

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Gilbert  Lopez

#29 Gilbert Lopez, Class of 2005
(Public Safety Academy)

I was making minimum wage out of high school and working two jobs. So when an opportunity came up in Code Enforcement for the City of Indio, I took it. It was there I was able to talk with reserve officers for various desert cities and I discovered I had an interest in law enforcement. So I put myself through the Public Safety Academy at College of the Desert. I graduated in spring of 2005 and was hired by the Indio Police Department.

I am the first in my family to attend college, so I see myself as a role model to the rest of my family, especially my children, nieces and nephews. My kids know they have to go to college, not maybe. I tell my kids that you can…it’s just a matter of wanting it and going for it.

Thanks to COD I think I’m a lifelong learner. I realize that life can change when you least expect it and I need to be prepared. If I could no longer work as a police officer I’d like to be a teacher, so I am working on getting my A.A. in Liberal Studies just to be a step ahead.

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