While Elva Aceves’ grandparents always taught her that higher education was the road to independence, Elva never dreamed she would also find a career that would change her life.
Growing up, education was a priority for Elva. Her grandparents were farm workers. They wanted more for Elva and encouraged her to focus on education as the path to a better life.
When Elva graduated from Coachella Valley High School she enrolled at University of California, San Diego to pursue Pre-med. But it wasn’t long before the financial pressures grew to be too much to handle. Elva returned home to work and re-evaluate her options.
Grateful for the sacrifices made by her family, Elva knew she owed it to them to go back to school. She enrolled in the College of the Desert nursing program, determined to make something of herself. It was a constant struggle to stay focused with competition for attention from work and other outside forces. And then she met Miss Abby.
College of the Desert nursing instructor Abigail Bravo helped Elva focus. “As a working nurse, Miss Abby was tough, but I made a real connection with her,” Elva explains. “When I struggled, she was there for me as a mentor, making it seem possible and worthwhile to continue.”
Work experience in local hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities also helped open Elva’s eyes to the possibilities for the wide variety of roles today’s nurses can play. Following her graduation from the nursing program in May 2009, Elva went to work as a telemetry nurse at JFK Memorial Hospital. Before long, she progressed to her current position as Clinical Informatics Manager, guiding implementation and support of the electronic health record in all areas of the hospital.
“If you stay with it, an education brings you opportunities you didn’t dream existed,” Elva says. “Thanks to Miss Abby and COD.”
A class in auto repair opened the door to a better life and career for College of the Desert’s first female Automotive Instructor, Dorothy Anderson.
Born and raised in Hollywood, Florida, Dorothy’s family relocated to Southern California in 1989. She rode the bus two hours to and from school each day, returning home promptly after classes to work on the family’s ranch. Dorothy struggled in high school. She eventually graduated from Continuation School and alternated between working low-end, part-time jobs and living on welfare to support her daughter.
She longed for a well-paying job and to become self-sufficient. Thinking she could at least save some money by learning to repair her own car, she enrolled in a community college auto mechanics program. Instead, she found her future. “The decision to enroll in the automotive program changed my life,” Dorothy says. “I was hooked from the first day.”
Like many students, Dorothy worked full-time while attending school part-time. Over the course of five years she mastered the skills and accumulated the credits needed to earn an Associate of Science degree in automotive technology. Dorothy immediately began working in a variety of auto repair shops in the area and also became a part-time instructor in the automotive program at College of the Desert.
A decade later, Dorothy joined the College as a full-time instructor, helping to teach and mentor students who struggle with many of the same challenges she faced so many years ago. As an instructor, Dorothy sees many students struggle with outside forces competing for their time and attention which can dampen their chances for success. She helps them organize their time and encourages them to stay focused on completing their studies, serving as an empathetic and truly knowledgeable mentor. “I know they can overcome challenges and succeed,” Dorothy explains. “Because it happened to me.”
#223 Linda Corral , Class of 2014
(A.A. Early Childhood Education; A.A. Liberal Arts with Emphasis in Social and Behavioral Sciences.
My journey at College of the Desert was filled with blessings. I started attending College of the Desert after graduating from high school. After being blessed with my son, I had to go from enrollment as a full time student to part time student. Then, following a divorce, I did not know what impact it might have on achieving my academic goals. However, I was soon blessed with meeting Ms.Dianne Russom, the Director of the College of the Desert McCarthy Child Development Center. The McCarthy Child Development Center supported my goals to better myself and enrich my education. The Center provided quality care for my son as well as a job working at the center with an awesome staff. Both helped me continue the pursuit of my education in the profession of Early Childhood Education.
My family, mentors, and professors like Dr. Sanders, Ms.Greene, Ms. Leanored, Mr. Verive and many more encouraged me to continue my education to achieve a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education. After a lot of studying and taking classes both at COD and Brandman University, I graduated on a Friday from COD and on that very next Sunday from Brandman University.
I will never forget the feeling of accomplishment I had and remembered everyone that had been an important part of my journey at College of the Desert. I will always be grateful for all of the support that I received from College of the Desert and the McCarthy Center.
I am currently working in the Early Childhood Educational field at Bermuda Dunes Center and plan to continue my own education while also helping to encourage others who want to continue their education as well.
#222 Christine Nickoli, Staff
(Senior Office Assistant, McCarthy Family Child Development & Training Center)
I have been a lifelong learner. After high school I attended college in Ashland, Oregon, studying business administration. I moved to California seeking sun and the beach! I worked in the real estate field and continued my studies at Saddleback College which is near the beach. Wherever I have lived, I have attended educational institutions; here in the U.S and abroad.
I am proud to say that I currently work as a senior office assistant at the McCarthy Family Child Development & Training Center. I work at the front line where customer service is essential. I try to make a difference with the students and others in some small way to shape them for their future.
I am thankful for Stan Dupree, Executive Director of Human Resources, who passed away recently. He literally transferred me to the Child Development Center. I would like to quote Stan, “Greatness is best served if we take care of each other.”
I have the privilege of working with genuine, caring, and dedicated faculty and staff. My purpose in life is to help others. I try to do three good deeds per day. Nothing is more fulfilling and gratifying than helping others. Small instances of thoughtfulness to large opportunities for large assistance. Collaborating with associates here on campus keeps me connected to the COD community. This keeps me motivated to continuously help families and more.
My “Step Up” for COD is giving a donation toward the “Stan Dupree Success Fund” which helps students in need of books. Stan is close to my heart. I am happy to be able to give in his honor. I am happy to call COD my home.
Growing up with parents that struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, being taken away from them, getting placed in foster care, and my mother dying; I had no clue where my future was going. I had gone down the same path and struggled with my own drug addiction for 10 years. I ended up getting pregnant, and that saved my life. I am a single mom. Being a single mother, I thought there was no hope for me. I thought my life was over and that I could never go to college or provide a better future for me or my son. I decided to apply to College of the Desert and my life changed. I had no idea about all the help and resources that were available for people like me or that were in my situation. I am grateful for all the major help provided at the McCarthy Center where my son attends. I had no clue about raising a child, and what to do at certain ages, and the Child Center has been there for me, helping me, and guiding me towards the positive ways of raising him since his first birthday.
The CARE/CALWORKS program also encouraged me to stay in school and even come back after a few setbacks. They kept telling me to never give up. Without COD's help there is no telling where I'd be. I'm able to attend college now and work on providing a stable and better future for my family.