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Tiffany Silva

#174 Tiffany Silva, Class of 1993, Transfer to California State University Los Angeles
(Computer Science, Foreign Languages, and General Studies)

I started my path at College of the Desert after taking time off after high school to save money for college. During the time off, I had my beautiful daughter. She became my reason for going back to school. I started out as a computer science major, planning on going to work in the computer field to help support my little family. I continued to take language classes as I loved to learn about foreign cultures. I decided to switch my goals and continue the language learning in order to teach high school French. Well, it ended up taking me four years to finish at College of the Desert. All this time, I rode the SunBus everyday for four hours with my little girl just to complete my degrees.

After receiving my AA in both Language Studies and General Studies, I transferred to UC Santa Cruz. I continued the Language Studies and received by BA in that field. I did switch my focus when going for the teaching credential as I fell in love with my daughter's kindergarten class. I returned to the COD campus to work with Cal State San Bernardino on my credential. I am now a first grade teacher and have been loving that for the past 18 years! Thank you, COD for setting me on my path!

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Aneta Cruz

#173 Aneta Cruz, Class of 2007
(Liberal Arts)

I often wonder what or who influences the path we choose to take in life and the decisions we make. Is it the obstacles that seem to occur so spontaneously and challenge us to be the best we can be? Or is it a multitude of people and their achievements we try to emulate? Perhaps there are as many answers as there are people in the world. For me, it was one singular moment that completely changed the direction of my journey.

In April 2007, only one month before graduating from COD, I thought I had my future planned out. With an acceptance letter from CSUSB in hand, I dreamed of joining the students of the Psychology Department and becoming…what exactly? Hmm. Not so planned out, after all. But it didn’t matter because that one single moment of clear lucidity which would change my destiny was about to happen. My epiphany came while I was reading William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” for my English Composition 1B. The story’s climax brought me to a state of complete awe and ushered in a flood of childhood memories. “I want to do that!” I remember saying to myself. “I want to paint with words, expand the limits of people’s imagination, make them live in different moments at the same time.” I have wanted to tell stories ever since I was a little girl growing up in the Czech Republic, with my nose constantly buried in a book. I admired the authors’ ability to portray an entire world within the four corners of a sheet of paper, and I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to write.

COD’s English Composition 1B revived my love for literature, and the college’s wonderful counselors helped me with all the necessary paperwork to change my major from Psychology to English. After graduating from the College of the Desert, I went on to earn my BA in English Literature and MFA in Creative Writing. And finally, as I’d promised myself, I became a published author. My debut novel, Heartbreak Hotel, was released in September 2013 by Black Opal Books Publishing, and my second novel, The Guardian, will be out in early 2014 by the same publisher.

My dreams don’t end with writing books, however. I learned from my experiences at COD that it is necessary to dream, and to dream BIG. My next big dream is to return to COD and pay it forward by teaching English and guiding others on their path to success.

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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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