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260 Stories And Counting.

Stella Baker

#25 Stella Baker, Student, Staff
(Adjunct librarian/student learning digital design skills)

I’m a writer and a librarian. I’ve got academic degrees and certifications and all the “stuff” that says I’ve achieved my education and success. Therefore, I’m beyond what COD has to offer. Right?


Because of huge changes in publishing caused by eBooks, it’s a whole new world for writers now. I decided to jump into this new world. lLast summer, I became my own publisher. I had to hire a graphic artist for the cover and book formatters for the interior of the electronic and paperback editions; not inexpensive, but necessary to produce a professional product.

As a small business with limited capital, I can’t keep doing that. I need to cut production costs without cutting the quality of my product. As a life-long library person and reader, I had a natural “feel” for covers and also for computer text, but I didn’t have the specific skills to do what had to be done.

Until now.

I’m auditing a PhotoShop class. Because I’m focusing on book cover skills, and receiving excellent help from the instructor who understands my goal, it’s been a great way to meet my business needs. Next semester I plan to audit another class to learn the skills for internal book formatting.

COD has given me an affordable way to pick up the specific skills I need to chase my dream. Thank goodness, because dreams don’t stop after the first degree and neither should one’s education.

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Thomas Lopez

#24 Thomas Lopez, Student
(Art, Emphasis in Graphic Design)

As the first in my family to complete high school or go to college, there is a lot of pressure on my shoulders to succeed. Prior to my academic pursuit in the fall of 2009, I was quickly going down the wrong path, and had more than my share of major legal problems. But my luck was about to change.

I had run into a fellow Navy veteran who told me to come down and check out College of the Desert, and that I could use my G.I. benefits to go to school. When I came through the door I didn’t know what to expect and signed up for a certificate in Digital Design and Production. After completing my first semester and making the Dean’s List I realized that higher education could be my calling. Since then, I have maintained a good GPA and have been on the Dean’s List every semester.

As I excelled in my studies and began doing quite well, I decided to change my goals and go for an associate’s degree. Over the next few semesters, I continued to do well and became a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society of which I am now currently the President.

With just two more semesters remaining here at COD, I have almost completed all of the necessary courses to transfer to a four year institution and pursue a bachelor’s degree and eventually a master’s degree. The one thing I am proud of more than anything else is the impression that I have made upon my children. They eagerly look forward to college and want to do good academically as their father has.

The choice to return to school has not only benefited me, but my family as well. Thank you to COD for “Opening the Door” and changing my life!

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#23 Jim Hummer, Staff
(Executive Director of the COD Foundation)

I am constantly amazed by the stories of the College of the Desert students and alumni. Since joining the Foundation, I have seen and been impressed with the many ways our students and graduates touch the lives of everyone in the Valley, making our community one of the premier places to live.

Education is not only the ticket to a better future for each student, but it enhances the quality of life for everyone in the Valley. With over 80% of our graduates and students residing within 1-2 hours of the Community College they attend, our Valley is truly a reflection of the scores of COD success stories written each and every day. I am honored to be a small part of the "Success Story" of the College of the Desert.

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#22 Anthony Panzica, Student

I was raised in a military family and lived on many different Air Force bases during my childhood. When I was 19, I started a career as a professional James Dean lookalike which I enjoyed for 15 years until retiring from the entertainment business in 2002.

In 2003, I started a non-profit drunk driving program in the Long Beach area of Los Angeles called the "Scooter Patrol". The Patrol transported potential drunk drivers home in their own vehicles for free by stowing a small, motorized scooter in the trunk of the drunk person's car, driving them home and then after dropping them safely, removing the scooter from the trunk and driving off to the next call. In the six plus years we were in operation, we transported over 12,000 people home safely and worked many major events where alcohol was served including the LA Weekly Music Awards and the premiere of the Warner Bros. film, "Beerfest".

After the economy took a bad turn, I decided to shut down the Patrol due to lack of donations which were needed in order to run the non-profit organization. The decision to close down the program was what led me to decide to go back to school and finally get my bachelors degree in Biology which is something I have always dreamed about doing. After looking around the Los Angeles area for suitable schools, I realized that the cost of living there would be far too high and that is when I drove out to Palm Desert to take a look at College of the Desert. I am very happy that I decided to attend COD and have been very happy since I got here over a year ago. I will be transferring to Cal State Channel Islands within the next 18 months and will always be thankful to all the great people at COD who have made my experience here one that I will always remember.

Below is a link to an article that was written about Scooter Patrol:

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#21 Andrew Roth, Class of 1987-1989
(Former Student )

My name is Andrew Roth. I moved from El Paso, Texas in 1987 to attend COD and to play basketball. My story is backwards, I actually attended the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) for two years prior to attending COD. While at UTEP I met a former COD student who was playing basketball and had played for COD.

My father passed away while I was attending UTEP and I stopped playing basketball to work. I was encouraged a year and a half later by the current UTEP player and former COD student to continue my basketball career. She spoke with Ty Thomas (former Men's Basketball Coach) who called me and the rest was history.

I met my wife during my COD days. Today, 21 years later, we are still married. Both daughters attended COD and have moved on. I am still in touch regularly with three current COD staff members: Ty Thomas, Jack Tap, Donni Prince........COD ROCKS

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