Since high school, I have dreamed of being an Athletic Trainer. I've always wanted to train for the highest level of Professional Sports. College of the Desert gave me that shot, working with then Head Athletic Trainer Dave Anderson. As a student trainer I was assigned the school’s Football Team, winners of the California Bowl in 1994,as well as the Men’s Basketball and Women’s Softball Teams. I was given the opportunity to do an internship as a trainer with the 1994 and 1995 Palm Springs Suns Baseball Club, members of the Western Baseball League with Coaches Bill Sudakis (former Dodger), Steve Garvey (Former Dodger), Lee Lacey (Former Dodger) and John Verhoeven (Former Anaheim Angels). I traveled with the team all over California, Oregon, Washington State and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Later that same year, I assisted with NFL players during the NFL Fastest Man Competition and assisted the Los Angeles Lakers Pre-Season Camps which were held on the COD Campus. It was my second year at COD when Dave Anderson encouraged me to apply for an internship with the MLB Atlanta Braves. I didn’t get that internship. The letter from the Club President stated that I had too much professional experience, as the internship was for student athletic trainers trying to pursue the professional experience I had already gained. I was a little disappointed; however, Dave told me to take it as a compliment.
I stopped attending COD for a while; however, the passion was still there. I would drop in every once awhile and help here and there in the training room (which was located under the football stadium). Dave convinced me to re-enroll in school and so I did, where I was once again helping the Football and Men’s Basketball Teams. Once again, complications arose and I dropped out of school.
As the saying goes, the third time's a charm. In 2012, I decided it was time to finish what I started all those years ago. It was no easy task to continue school as well as work and raise a family. In August 2013, I was brought on to the SoCal Coyotes, a non-profit Sports Leadership program based out of Palm Spring’s, CA, as an Assistant Athletic Trainer under my High School Athletic Trainer Mike McBride. I am still with the team today and loving every minute of it.
Although I am still a student, I can see how College of the Desert has steered my life in the right direction. When I first stepped foot on the campus, I felt so hopeless as I was already a single mom and didn't know how I could possibly go to school with small children. I never dreamed there would be a "daycare" I could trust and afford. Well, at COD there is a gem called the McCarthy Child Development Center. I was so relieved the moment I walked in and looked around. I didn't feel like I was in a classroom or daycare, it was like a second home for the children. The toddlers can explore everything and be comfortable just like at home. They were nurtured by loving teachers and assistants. They were served healthy food made from scratch and with loving hands; not processed cafeteria food. Everything about the Center left me feeling at ease.
I met with a counselor, who helped me figure out a plan to accomplish my goals of earning an accounting certificate. Everywhere on campus I went, people were there to help me. As a single mom with limited resources, I found so many doors opening rather than closing. I qualified for grants for child care, books and even money to help pay the bills. With COD's versatile schedule and online courses I was able to arrange my schedule to fit mine and my children's needs.
I have hit some major bumps in the road. My youngest son was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a fatal disease. It caused me to have to take a break in my studies to get a grip with the complicated care regiment that now rules our life. I thought for sure this was the end of my ability to get care for my son and the end of my education. But once again, Diane Russom at the McCarthy Child Development Center has opened up yet another door for me! My son came back to the center as a four year old for preschool. Tiffany, the amazing chef at the Center, prepares my son his own meals based on his strict diet. His unbelievably reliable teacher, Miss Claudia, administers him several medications a day with the efficiency of a nurse! And the children are all supportive in all of his extra needs without poking fun at him, because it has all been handled so perfectly. The Center also hired me as a student worker in the office where I am learning and earning and preparing myself for the years to follow.
I have one semester left at COD until my goals have all been accomplished. Because of my opportunity to work in an office in addition to having some amazing teachers like Rizzo, Hall, George, Johnson and Leushner I have learned so much. Thank you COD!
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.