I always knew I would go to college, but had no clear career path in mind. Following graduation from Desert Hot Springs High School, I enrolled at College of the Desert (COD) hoping to find direction. A series of art classes at the College ignited my passion for art and opened the door to my future as an artist, writer and entrepreneur. Those art classes helped me realize where I wanted to focus my life. I received an Associate of Arts degree from COD in 2005 and transferred to University of California Riverside where I received a Bachelor of Arts in Film & Visual Culture in 2008.
Putting my passion to work, I created Coachella Valley Art Scene, a website and blog focused on the up-and-coming local community art scene. I write daily about art and artists, events and happenings and all things creative in and around the desert art scene.
For the last five years I have also curated the Coachella Art Studios, a large scale interactive art installation inside the Coachella Music and Arts Festival's campgrounds for attendees hungry for art, expression and creative diversion.
For my most recent venture, I joined with two fellow COD alums I first met at screen printing class. Together we have completely transformed a down and out convenience store into a hip contemporary art gallery and event space spotlighting the young and upcoming art community of the Coachella Valley.
The Coachella Valley Art Scene (CVAS) gallery features nearly all local art and artists as well as hosting concerts and screening thought-provoking films. The gallery is located on East Palm Canyon Drive in Cathedral City, across from the IMAX Theater. The new gallery gives local artists a place to show and sell their work. We also hope to positively change the neighborhood with the introduction of new energy and color.
College of the Desert changed our lives. I hope we can help do the same for others.
College of the Desert opened the door to higher education and changed my life. As part of a single parent household with limited income, I was no stranger to overcoming obstacles. My father died when I was just sixteen and, picking up the pieces, I moved in with my oldest sister to finish high school and then began searching for a job. I applied for and landed an entry level spot as a scheduler at Desert Hospital. Shortly thereafter, with no career plan in mind, I enrolled at College of the Desert (COD) hoping to find my future.
I was the first in my family to attend college. Like many of my fellow students, I had to work full-time while attending classes part-time. It was a struggle financially but I thrived in the supportive learning environment provided by the College. It took me more than six years to acquire the necessary credits for transfer to University of Redlands where I ultimately earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Management. In 2008, I was hired as Grants Manager at Desert Healthcare District.
Four years later the Clinton Foundation selected me to lead the implementation of the Health Matters Initiative as Regional Director in the Coachella Valley. I work with the community to facilitate the implementation of the Coachella Valley Blueprint for Action, identifying options and leveraging resources to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities across the region.
The lessons I learned during my years at COD helped me understand the value of exploring options and leveraging resources as I bring that experience to work each day with the Clinton Foundation.
I remember often that I walked the same path as many others who are struggling. Thanks to College of the Desert and others, I am fortunate to be able to now put my education and experience to work helping others meet and overcome obstacles to achieve a healthier and better life.
We may live in a digital world, but for me it is paper that is my passion. As a working artist, I combine paper making techniques and use cotton fibers from recycled clothing to create jewelry and unique art pieces. My path to a successful career as a working artist began following graduation from Palm Springs High School when I enrolled in a series of paper making classes at the College. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Something just clicked with those classes. They opened my eyes, captured my imagination and flooded me with ideas about how I could use paper as a medium for my artistic vision.
For a time after I left the College cooking was my art form. But I kept dreaming about paper. Putting what I learned at COD to work, I began experimenting on my own with casting and sculpture, looking at paper from every angle and trying to push the limits of my own creativity. Eventually, I found my way back to art and papermaking. The end result is a career as a working artist, creating one-of-a-kind works out of our Idyllwild studio. We are frequent exhibitors at art shows throughout the Southwest and locally at the weekly Thursday evening Village Fest in Palm Springs.
And it all started with those paper making classes at College of the Desert. I credit Professor Kohl for teaching me that the only boundaries and limits we have are those we place upon ourselves. I continue to be a student of my own techniques, regularly learning new things about my craft to expand my vision and inspire my work.
College of the Desert changed my life. Art classes opened my eyes to the possibilities and the support from faculty gave me the direction I needed to pursue my passion and realize my dream.
I never dreamed appearing in College of the Desert (COD) musical theater productions would open the door to starring roles in Hollywood feature films alongside Michelle Pfeiffer, Renee Zellweger and Nicholas Cage. But that’s exactly what happened for me. I found my future on the stage with COD.
Thanks to College theatre arts faculty members Michelle Gaines, Darlene Romano and Lynda Shaeps, I was able to gain experience and confidence in a nurturing and supportive environment conducive to learning both career and life lessons. These incredible COD women changed my life.
Armed with my local experience, I moved to Los Angeles immediately following graduation and started auditioning. I was successful getting work in commercials right away and soon landed an independent film. My first starring role in a major feature film came in the 2002 dramatic movie White Oleander where I was fortunate to receive critical acclaim, including Oscar buzz. Since then, I've been working steadily, including starring alongside Ewan McGregor in Big Fish and leading roles in Matchstick Men, Flicka and many more.
So much of the professional success I’ve experienced I owe to the great start, strong foundation, real world experience and support I found at the College. There is no substitute for having people believe in you.
Right now I am enjoying focusing on the best role I've ever had, being mom to our 3 year old son and 10 month old daughter. I am so grateful to College of the Desert for providing me the opportunity to pursue a career and create a life that was well beyond my wildest dreams. Thanks, COD.
Hi, my name is Jimi and I enrolled at College of the Desert (COD) after exiting the military in 2002. My original intent was to major in computer programing or something along those lines as I knew the direction in which technology was heading. COD did not offer courses at the time and the closest I could get to working with computers was Digital Design and Production.
While attending COD, I was working as a security guard at night, which allowed me to attend classes by day. I also had a family of four at home to take care of during that time. After three years of hard work, having not yet graduated, I left COD and continued to pursue a career in the field of security. In 2008 I was hired as a Security Manager for a country club in Indio, California. With a management position in security, I left the Digital Design and Production field behind forever, or so I thought.
In 2010 a former employer who I had worked for as a security guard while attending COD, contacted me asking if I would interview for the position of Creative Director in their Administration Department. They knew I had gone to COD in the past and knew I had taken the courses for the position they were trying to fill. After the initial interview, they offered me the position. I did not decide right away, but returned home and talked it over with my family. After careful thought and lots of prayer, my family and I made the decision that I would leave the security field behind, and move forward in this new venture.
The knowledge and insight I gained from COD has continued to bless me throughout the years, even to this day. I have been the Creative Director at Palm Desert Greens Country Club now for the past four years. I maintain my church's website, and I continue to grow in different aspects of my life. I can honestly say that God has truly blessed me and my family.
I would like to thank the following faculty members at COD for their help and support during my time there as a student:
Donni Prince - Veterans Specialist, David Acquistapace - Associate Professor Digital Design and Production, Judith Cook - Art Professor, Rick Rawnsley - Associate Professor English. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication to ensure that I left with more knowledge than I came in with. I'm grateful to have shared part of my life with each of you.