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258 Stories And Counting.

Stephanie Bruce

#172 Stephanie Bruce, Transfer to Cal Pomona
(Culinary Program Graduate)

At age 23, I decided to enroll in College of the Desert’s (COD) culinary arts program after my parents retired in Palm Springs. I got all the basics at College of the Desert, which really helped me to excel when I transferred to Cal Pomona. And I have to say, my most memorable professors were right here at COD. The local culinary program is truly respected in this business, and it’s the most impressive part of my resume.

Following my education, I took a job with the Yucaipa/Calimesa School District and really developed a passion for providing nutritional lunches to kids. The challenge of balancing healthy foods that taste good for students of a variety of different ages and palates is very rewarding.

I joined Palm Springs Unified School District in July 2013 as Director of Nutrition Services where I oversee the planning, preparation and serving of an average 22,000 meals per day.

I’ll go out and sit at the lunch tables with second and third graders to get their feedback. They’re so honest, but what I love most is that nine times out of 10, what they have to say is really positive. It’s the best part of my day!

What I appreciated most about my time at the desert’s community college was how they encouraged students to be active participants in the community. Working with students, faculty, parents and local partners to promote healthy eating and active living for the next generation is one of the best parts of my job. Thanks, COD.

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Dodi Henry

#171 Dodi Henry, Class of 1978

When Dodi Henry emigrated from her home in Bosnia in 1974, she sought freedom and a new life. She attended Palm Springs High School before pursuing higher education at College of the Desert and never looked back. Although Dodi didn’t speak English when she came to America, she was determined to make friends, study hard and succeed. She played basketball at the College and concentrated on doing well in classes. In 1978, she was honored to be crowned homecoming queen at the college.“College of the Desert was a good start to a good life,” Dodi says. “I am still putting the skills I learned at the College to work today while operating my business.” Dodi and her husband Kevin currently own the legendary restaurant, The Nest, a popular hang-out that’s been part of the desert scene for decades. But it was a lot of hard work and experience that led to this extraordinary opportunity.

After modeling for a year after college, Dodi returned to the desert and was offered a job as hostess at The Nest. In 2003, she left to run Arnold Palmer’s restaurant for eight years and earned a stellar reputation for customer service and efficient operations.

It was that reputation which prompted the restaurant partners to approach Dodi and Kevin about bringing new life to The Nest in 2010. The couple accepted, and created a new look, an upgraded menu and a vibrant new spin on nightlife in the desert.

College of the Desert opened the door for Dodi to a lifetime career, a dream and a life she never thought was possible. Today, at the restaurant, Dodi makes sure her employees attending the college have a schedule that accommodates their academic studies.

“I found freedom in America,” Dodi says. “I found my path in life at College of the Desert.”

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Heather Enos

#170 Heather Enos, Class of 2009
(Associate of Arts in Business and Technology Transfer to Pepperdine)

Following graduation from Palm Desert High School, a four year college wasn’t a financial option for me, so I turned to College of the Desert to discover my future. The flexibility of schedules at the college allowed me to work full time while taking a broad range of classes. This provided time for me to work out a future academic and career path.

A class in business law at the college got me thinking about making business a career. A calculus professor pushed even harder, challenging me to really apply myself in order to excel and be prepared for the real world expectations I would be facing after college.

My academic preparation and faculty support, in combination with the scholarships I received from COD Foundation, made all the difference. When someone else believes in you, it helps you believe in yourself.

While I never imagined I could get into a school like Pepperdine, hard work and dedication at College of the Desert opened the door. I earned an Associate Degree in Business Administration at the college in 2009. Thanks to classes that transferred easily I was able to hit the ground running and graduate with a BS in Business Administration from Pepperdine two years later.

I joined FirstBank in 2012 as a Banking Officer at the Washington and 42nd branch in Palm Desert. Banking suits me. I feel fortunate to have landed a great job that I love, in large part because of the great start I got at our community college.

Thanks, COD.

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Katie Pettersen

#169 Katie Pettersen, Transfer to CSULB
(Psychology student)

As a high school senior, I had already made up my mind about what career I would work toward, and what courses and degrees I would need to get there. However, the death of my father during my sophomore year in High School left my mother struggling to make ends meet, which placed me at College of the Desert for the first two years of my journey. Luckily, some amazing people made a decision that would help support me throughout my college life. While COD was a convenient and affordable way to help me reach my goals, my biggest debt of gratitude goes to the Rotary Club of Palm Springs. Without the support of this local organization, I don’t know where I would be.

I am immensely grateful that they were able to be there for me in my time of need. With their kindness, care, and support, I have been able to graduate with Honors with my BA in Psychology and minor in Applied Psychology, and continue on to graduate school to reach my end goal of becoming a School Psychologist. I am currently completing my third and final year in my graduate program at CSULB, having maintained a 4.0 GPA while working two jobs and serving as the President of the School Psychology Student Association, among many other extracurricular activities.

I strive to be the best that I can be, and know that the Palm Springs Rotary Club has helped me to achieve my goal. Thank you!

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Faustino  Gutierrez

#168 Faustino Gutierrez, Class of 2012
(Automotive Program Graduate)

Besides learning a skill, I found a career at College of the Desert. The faculty and student support I received helped prepare me for the real world as well as giving me the skills needed to pursue a career as an automotive service technician with Land Rover Rancho Mirage. Thanks to COD I was able to job shadow with a master tech and then work through the certification levels to become a certified Land Rover Automotive Service Engineer and am now going for Master Tech certification. With the great start I got at COD and the support of a great employer I know I’ll be a Master in no time.

I am the first in my family to go to college. Growing up we all worked with our parents during vacation time from school in the agricultural fields in Mecca to help support the family. My parents encouraged me to pursue my education after I graduated from Desert Mirage High School in 2010. I was able to attend College of the Desert with scholarship help from FAFSA and the Coachella Valley Pathways to Success.

At first, I was thinking about pursuing medical assistant training but my friends kept telling me I should go for something I was really passionate about. That turned out to be great advice. I entered the automotive program at COD and loved it from the start. My parents helped me so I didn’t have to work and could attend full time.

If you want a good job and career College of the Desert is a great place to start. I have COD to thank for opening the door to my future career and a better life for me and my family.

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