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260 Stories And Counting.

Norma Andrews

#184 Norma Andrews, Class of 1999
(AA Liberal Arts)

I returned to school when my youngest child was in high school. A great counselor at College of the Desert named "Sandy" encouraged me the whole way to hang in there quoting, "you are never too old." The great teaching staff at COD made every subject interesting and exciting on a daily basis. I wanted to give back to the community and teach young children so my goal was to obtain a teaching credential. After graduating from College of the Desert I went on to a 4 year university obtaining a Bachelor's degree.

I created my own company, Nanny Advice 4 You, and now do child consulting to new parents undertaking the road to parenthood. In my spare time l design and create children's apparel for my other company Kid Babies designs.

In the end I say thank you College of the Desert for the opportunity to realize my dreams.

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John Stanley King

#183 John Stanley King
(Studied theatre, band and choir)

Legions of loyal fans flock to each and every John Stanley King performance in the Coachella Valley. But it wasn’t always that way for this local choir boy who found his future at College of the Desert (COD). Born and raised in Indio, one of seven siblings reared in a generation of musicians, he learned all the Standards early in life from his grandfather, who played trumpet, banjo and bass. Following graduation from high school, John enrolled at COD where he studied theatre, band and choir.

He continued to dream of a career in music but had little hope of making it big until he was afforded the opportunity to participate in a music camp offered by famous bandleader Fred Waring. Although he had been a musician since age 12, John never dreamed of taking his music to a national level. Thanks to a College of the Desert scholarship, John was able to travel to Pennsylvania to participate in the music camp. “Before I knew it, I was in a new land. I had never even been on an airplane before.” During the workshop, Fred Waring heard John sing and made him an offer of a lifetime to join the Pennsylvanians, his touring chorus. “I was only 18 at the time; a baby compared to the rest of them. I jumped at the opportunity.” After traveling around the country for two and a half years, John returned to the desert to pursue his life and career and he’s been playing to packed crowds here at home ever since. “I’m so grateful to College of the Desert for opening the door to my dream of a professional career as a musician.”

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Sheila  Trexler

#182 Sheila Trexler, Class of 1973
(Nursing Degree)

When Sheila Trexler graduated from the nursing program at College of the Desert (COD) in 1973, she could have never imagined the twists and turns her career would take. As one of the first nurses employed at Eisenhower Medical Center, which opened that same year, Sheila still remembers the excitement of the hospital’s dedication ceremony. “Mamie Eisenhower was there, as were Bob and Dolores Hope,” she recalls. “It was magical.”

After working five years in the intensive care and emergency department at Eisenhower, Sheila was recruited to run a hospital emergency department in Las Vegas. In that role, she was in charge of administering care in many challenging situations, including the MGM Grand fire of 1980, considered the third worst hotel fire in modern U. S. history. She also continued her education, first at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, eventually earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, and later at the California Western School of Law, specializing in medical malpractice defense.

After earning her law degree, Sheila joined San Diego-based Neil Dymott Attorneys. But it wasn’t long before she was itching to get back to the desert so she talked her partners into opening an office in Indian Wells.

“If ever there were a desert rat, it’s me!” Sheila exclaims. “This office is my baby. A majority of my clients are physicians or other allied health care professionals, some of whom I worked with at Eisenhower all those years ago.”

When Sheila hears someone question the value of community college, she always tells them about the great education she received at COD.

“College of the Desert opened the door to my career in healthcare and changed my life,” Sheila says. “The faculty cared about students as people, as individuals. That makes all the difference.”

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Scott Beaty

#181 Scott Beaty, Class of 2004, Transfer to Longy Music Conservatory, Cambridge, MA
(AA degree in music)

A dream of mine for many years as a professional pianist was to return to Boston and earn my Master's degree in Music from Longy Music Conservatory. My professional enrichment began with returning to school at COD as a mature student in the outstanding music department under the direction of Dr. Darlene Romano. Due to Dr. Romano and career counselor, Ms. Eve-Marie Andrews, I was able to prepare and win seven scholarships and enter graduate school and then graduate with honors in 2008. If I had not begun my journey at COD, I would never have been prepared to re-enter higher education full-time in Boston.

I was already a United States Presidential Pianist having played for the late President and Mrs. Ford, and pianist for the McCallum Theatre. When I left for Boston, the McCallum Theatre held my position until I returned in 2008.

My gratitude for returning to the Desert with new enthusiasm in music has led me to a new passion volunteering and helping other students realize their dreams and to help mentor them with scholarships. My first opportunity will be my up-coming solo concert at the McCallum Theatre on April 6, 2014, where I will give two scholarships to young people entering the performing arts. Thank you COD for your role in getting it all started!

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Scott Sohn

#180 Scott Sohn
(COD Alumnus Plant and Landscape Design Classes)

I always wanted to be an architect. Little did I know when I enrolled in a plant design course at College of the Desert (COD) that my life and career path would be changed forever. I’m not sure what it was about the plant design course that caught my eye - but things just clicked. I knew I wanted to design with plants,not with two-by-fours. Following completion of the class, I switched my major from architecture to landscape design - and the rest is history.

COD Professor Michael Watling had the biggest influence during my time at the College. Soon after, I decided to put my education and training to work, started my own landscape business and earned my contractor’s license in 1984.

It turned out to be a good choice. I love being outdoors, and I know if I had taken the other route, I would have been stuck in the office all day. I still hand set every boulder and hand select every tree.

There is spectacular evidence of the success of Sohnco Landscape, Inc., throughout the

desert and beyond. The professional accolades the company has received also demonstrate why my career switch was a wise move. We've earned three “Best in Show”awards for landscape designs from the California Landscape Contractors Association. In addition, I was recognized for excellence in landscaping with the Stuart J. Sperber Memorial Sweepstakes Award during the 2012 California Landscape Contractors Association convention.

Recognition and awards are nice ‘atta boys,’ but I share all of this success with my crews " some of whom have also attended College of the Desert. It’s just a confirmation of our training and ability to do quality work.

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