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.
#187 Glenn King, Class of 1984, Staff
(AA Liberal Studies and
Director, Network Service and Telecommunications)
COD taught me to play music and work in electronics, gave me an education, found me a wife and gave me a great job to support my family. What can I say about how important College of the Desert is to its students and community? It’s been a part my life for 40 years…
My life at COD began in 1974 after graduating from Indio High School. I was thinking of a career as a music teacher and became a student in COD’s excellent music program as a woodwind major. To help pay for tuition, I landed a job at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway as a steel worker inspecting cables, tramcars and towers. The pay was great and after a year and a half I decided that I would not continue with my planned teaching career. However, working at the Tram kindled a new interest in electronics and in 1980 I returned to COD to enroll in their Circuitry Analysis program.
Before completing my degree, in 1981 I began working at the Desert Sands Unified School District as an electronics technician. I had left COD a second time but it didn’t take long before I realized I missed taking classes and playing music so once again I found myself back in the COD music department performing in the Jazz band, Symphonic band and whichever musical or entertainment event they had. I still took a couple of standard classes here and there and, in 1984, finally graduated with an AA in Liberal Studies. In 1986 I met my future wife Lisa while performing in a dance show call Jazz in 3D. I played in the band while she danced on stage in Theater One now the Pollock Theatre. In 1988 we were married and are raising 4 wonderful children.
In the late 1980’s, personal computers came into education institutions and as an electronic tech I was asked to open an Apple Computer service center within the Desert Sands maintenance department. That expanded into building Apple local talk networks and Novell networks for PC’s at school sites and administration. In 1994, I was deeply involved in a multi-million dollar project to engineer a district-wide microwave computer network which connected all existing DSUSD campuses together. The project was completed in 1996 and in 1997 it received an award from the Smithsonian Institution for “Visionary Use of Information Technology.”
Then in February of 1998 I found myself back at COD, this time as an employee. The college wanted to upgrade their antiquated computer network and I became the Director of Network Services and Telecommunications. In June of 2000, the COD Alumni Association presented me with the “Alumni of the Year Award”. At the awards ceremony I heard whispers of “I Love You” from the audience as the notorious computer virus of the same name has just wreaked havoc with the campus email system.
Now my children are attending COD, getting their education and planning their careers. Ryan and Sarah have already completed their course work, Regan just started and Danny enters this fall.
#186 Jorge Perez, Class of 2006, Staff
I studied Philosophy, Physics and Mathematics.
Now an adjunct COD Mathematics Professor)
I moved to the United States when I was 12 years old. With no knowledge of the English language I arrived to Palm Desert, and started 8th grade. As I moved forward in life, I encountered teachers who became like shining lights in a dark path, and inspired me to become a teacher as well. After interacting with the College of the Desert Math faculty, in particular Dr. Thang Le, I decided to become a Mathematician, and made it my goal to obtain a graduate degree and come back and teach at COD.
I transferred to UCR and obtained both a Bachelors and Masters in Pure Mathematics. And now, I'm back at the College teaching and giving back to the community that gave me so much.
Since coming to College of the Desert in 2007, I continue to be excited about the wealth of opportunities we are able to provide students. College of the Desert has so many programs and services which allow students, through hard work, to realize their potential. A community college has an incredibly difficult mission: provide access to all, prepare students for transfer to higher education institutions, provide relevant workforce training and career focused instruction for jobs here and around the world and give students the skills for success in life after college. I am proud to be a small part of what we do here.