GoGirl! Grant Recipients

Alejandra Castro

Alejandra Castro

Ohio University Online Program studying for BSN
Anticipated Graduation date: January 2025

 Alejandra is the oldest daughter of immigrant parents and a single parent to three amazing children. Her parents came to this country to give she and her siblings a better life and opportunities.

Alejandra has been in the medical field for over ten years as a Monitor Technician and Phlebotomist. There she discovered her passion for helping those who cannot help themselves.

Enrolling in college to pursue her Associate’s degree in Registered Nursing after many years was challenging as she works to support her family. Her children are her motivation to keep going. She wants to be the best she can be and lead by example. She wants her children to know that anything is possible if you set your mind to it and work hard.

Her current goal is to obtain her Nursing degree. She will then continue to study for her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing with the ultimate goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner in Family Medicine in the Coachella Valley.

She wants to focus on helping Spanish speaking patients with chronic conditions, taking the time to properly educate them and advocate for them while encouraging them to actively participate in their health. She would like to continue to do her part in making a difference and consistently do her best for our local community.

Karla Gonzales

Karla Gonzales

College of the Desert/Nursing
Anticipated Graduation Date:  May 2023

 Karla was born in the Coachella Valley and continues to reside in La Quinta along with her husband and five children. Her husband is a Sergeant in the US Army and recently returned from a one-year deployment to South Korea.

She has been in the medical field since 2008 and has worked in various medical sectors, including pediatrics, orthopedics, family care and urgent care. 

Karla is proud to come from a long line of public servants. Being awarded a GoGirl! Grant will enable Karla to continue her education full time and realize her goal of becoming a nurse. She wants to continue to serve her community and the Coachella Valley, which she loves and cherishes.

Sarah Harrington

Sarah Harrington

CSUSB/BSN
Anticipated Graduation Date: December 2023

Sarah was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, the second of four children. Neither of her parents attended college, so they shared a belief that college wasn’t necessary for she and her siblings.

Sarah enrolled in a community college, but as she had no plan for her future, she dropped out and decided to go to work instead. A year later, at eighteen, Sarah learned she was pregnant. Her daughter’s early years are a blur as she worked two jobs to support them, without any involvement or support from her daughter’s father.

She then landed a sales job that afforded them a small measure of comfort, but as her sales career progressed, she worked longer and longer hours and began to miss many of her daughter’s milestones. She wanted to feel part of a larger purpose and spend more quality time with her daughter.

So, in the fall of 2016, she quit her full-time job and walked back onto a college campus for the first time in fourteen years. Sarah enrolled in the BSN program at CSUSB and immediately began working in the nursing department’s Street Medicine program. She found this work gives her purpose.

After she earns her BSN in December she plans to go into psychiatric nursing and eventually to become a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner helping to meet the need for mental health providers here in our community.

Today, she could not be prouder of her journey and that of her daughter, a COD student herself now. She is grateful that she has shown her daughter resilience, but also that education is a gateway to finding purpose and opportunity in life.

While she will never stop learning, she cannot wait to complete her formal education and go to work to help improve the mental health of her community.

Cheyla Higareda

Cheyla Higareda

California Desert Trial Academy/Juris
Anticipated Graduation date: 2026

Cheyla was born in Indio, California. She is the oldest of four sisters. Her parents fled the poverty that surrounded them in Mexico and came to the United States. They both worked various heavy labor jobs throughout the years to give she and her sisters a chance at a better life. Witnessing the sacrifices her parents made daily encouraged Cheyla to make their sacrifices count. Therefore, at the age of fourteen she decided to become an attorney because she realized that unlike them, she was fortunate enough to have citizenship, knowledge of the English language, and two parents who supported her dream of obtaining a higher education.

Cheyla has always been an exemplary student. She graduated high school with honors, continued on to the University of Redlands and was recognized on the Dean’s Honor List and followed that with a master’s degree in Practical Theology with Cum Lade Honors.

Now Cheyla is pursuing her true passion at California Desert Trial Academy where she will be studying for her Juris degree with an anticipated graduation date of 2026.

Her long-term goal is to become an established attorney within the Coachella Valley. She wants to make a positive and genuine difference within her community.

Lesley Lopez

Lesley Lopez

College of the Desert/Nursing
Anticipated Graduation Date:  December 2023

 Lesley was born and raised in the Coachella Valley. She has always found the medical field fascinating.  In high school, she was part of the Medical Health Academy.  She participated in various job shadows and had an internship in a chiropractor’s office.

She knew early on that she wanted to be a part of something bigger and make a difference in someone’s life. She has worked with all ages, from seven days old to 97 years old. 

Her love grew quickly for the pediatric and labor and delivery unit. She feels that it is a specialty that not only focuses on bringing new life into this world, but it also empowers and supports women through a life changing experience.

Lesley is a firm believer that each patient should be treated with the utmost respect to allow them dignity while being cared for in challenging situations. She looks forward to building and improving her communication skills, time management and learning everything she needs to know to become the best nurse she can be.

Ariel Lorenzen

Ariel Lorenzen

Grand Canyon University Online Program studying for BSN
Anticipated Graduation Date:  September 2024

Ariel was born and raised in California and has thrived on fostering her love of learning.

After graduating from the University of Hawaii with a Bachelor of Science in Global Environmental Science, she realized that she has a passion for helping others that she needed to pursue. Ariel feels there is nothing like witnessing and facilitating a positive change in someone’s health.

Ariel holds the public relations position for the Student Nurses Association and has just accepted a position at COD as the new nursing tutor.  She’ll be tutoring first, second and third semester students.

After receiving her RN degree, her goal is to work in the labor and delivery department while completing her BSN and ultimately to become a certified nurse-midwife. She is striving to become the best nurse and the best version of herself she can be.

Jaemilyn Lucas

Jaemilyn Lucas

CSUSB/Nursing
Anticipated Graduation Date:  December 2023

 Jaemilyn was born and raised in the Coachella Valley. While attending Cathedral City High School, she discovered her passion for the medical field. 

She joined a health academy and became a junior volunteer at Eisenhower Medical Center to gain exposure in the medical field. Although she didn’t perform direct patient care at that time, she was able to cultivate and refine her customer service skills by delivering flowers to patients or by discharging them with the goal of putting a smile on their face with her positive and uplifting demeanor.

Jaemilyn’s specialty is in Plastic Surgery and Aesthetics.  She find it fulfilling to be in an industry that merges beauty and science. Boosting people’s confidence and self-esteem as a career is a dream of hers.

Her long-term goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner and to open her own aesthetic practice here in the Coachella Valley.

Laura Martin

Laura Martin

College of the Desert/Anthropological Archaeology
Anticipated Graduation Date: Spring 2024

“Miyiiha Netwaanyan’e Piionr Honuukvetam Nehiinkeeme Shiishongna tongvet Noon’e Tongvet aweeshkone xaa ekwaane xaa Neshuun’e xaa aweeshko Motaamenpo aweeshkone xaa.” This is Laura Martin’s introduction in her native language of Tongva.

She is a single mother of four school-age children. She and her children have been on a journey of escaping domestic violence and are in the process of healing and restoring peace in their lives. As a result, she has returned to school to complete her degree in order to support herself and her children.

She has been chosen by her tribal nation to study anthropological cultural resource monitoring and archaeology.

Laura is on her tribal council, a member of her tribal nation and works on several committees that are involved in cultural resource management, land preservation and cultural preservation. She plans on graduating in Spring 2024 with her associate’s degree in preservation.

Then her goal is to transfer to a four year program at CSUSB where she will complete her bachelor’s degree in Anthropological Archaeology.

The motivation Laura has for completing her education is not only focused on herself and her children, but on her tribal nation and her people.

Completing her degree will not only provide for her family, but will provide a layer of security and support that is needed within her tribal nation and tribal family.

Priscila Medina

Priscila Medina

College of the Desert/Nursing
Anticipated Graduation Date:  December 2023

Priscila was born and raised in Palm Springs. She is the single mother of a beautiful and energetic daughter.  Her daughter is her full motivation to succeed.  She wants to be great, not only for her daughter, but for her community as well.

Priscila has worked in the medical field for nine years. The last seven years she has been an imaging nursing assistant at the Oncology Department at the Lucy Curci Cancer Center.  This is where she’s learned vulnerability and strength.  Her patients have taught her to be a stronger person for them.  When she becomes a nurse, she wants to give back with love, respect and hope.

Her goal is to work in the emergency department at a local hospital with the ultimate goal of becoming a Nurse Practitioner. 

Andrea Mendez

Andrea Mendez

College of the Desert/Nursing
Anticipated Graduation Date:  December 2023

Andrea is the youngest of nine children and the only member of her family to complete high school and to have received a college degree. Her childhood dream was always to become a nurse. She is a single mother of two and her children are her inspiration to continue her education.

Although she started college upon graduating from high school, she has experienced several challenges that have kept her from reaching her goal until now. She views completing her nursing degree as a great personal accomplishment and feels it will set an example for her children that despite the obstacles you face in life, you can still accomplish your dreams.

Andrea’s goal is to work at Eisenhower Medical Center in the stroke or cardiac unit while studying for her BSN.

Monica Monay

Monica Monay

College of the Desert/Nursing
Anticipated Graduation Date:  December 2023

Monica is a Coachella Valley native, married and a proud mom of two beautiful daughters. She is currently in COD’s Registered Nursing Program with the goal of obtaining her Associates Degree in Nursing. Soon after, she plans to apply to CSUSB and continue in their accelerated BSN program.

After two years of experience in an acute care setting, she plans to specialize in cardiac care. Monica has always been very intrigued by the complexity of the heart and how it, quite literally, is the pump of our bodies. Her passion for cardiac care is also driven by the fact that one of her daughters was diagnosed with a severe congenital heart defect.  Monica wants to be as educated and prepared as she can be to help her daughter on her journey.

She also wants to be a nurse that helps families feel safe by providing care for their loved one during very uncertain times and educating them on what is to come.

She is working extremely hard to reach her goals because she wants to be the woman her daughters can look up to.  Her main goal in life is to inspire her daughters and other young women to pursue their dreams and give back to their communities

Jasmine Nichols

Jasmine Nichols

CSUSB/Nursing
Anticipated Graduation Date:  May 2025

Playing pretend hospital with her sister was always Jasmine’s favorite childhood game.  Her childhood dream was to become a nurse and that still hasn’t wavered – not once. She was pretty well-versed in the medical field from a young age because of the stories her father shared as the head nurse of a trauma unit in an emergency room.

Recently Jasmine graduated from College of the Desert with an Associates of Science degree with honors and has passed her entrance exam into nursing school at CSUSB.  She is minoring in psychology as she feels this will be helpful in the field of nursing and leaves room for the possibility of attaining a Masters of Science degree in the future.

Jasmine is proud to have overcome impossible odds as a single mother while supporting her daughter. She is fighting to become the woman she can be proud of and it is more important than ever to show her daughter that girls can do hard things. She’s learned that a kind heart is usually what people need, rather than the ‘perfect words.’

Jasmine is looking forward to pursing her career and to give back to the Coachella Valley.

Maria Elena Pantoja

Maria Elena Pantoja

CSUSB/BSN
Anticipated Graduation Date:  May 2025

 Maria Elena has raised her son as a single parent while working and going to school. She has Associates Degrees in Biomedical Science, Social Behavioral Science and Math; with honors.

Her first experience in the medical field was in 2001 when she was hired as a receptionist at an Ophthalmology Clinic.  She was quickly promoted and became fascinated by ophthalmology and how it interfaces with many other specialties. Her admiration for health care workers increased as she began to assist as a scrub technician for certain eye procedures.  She knew then, that she wanted to be in the operating room as a nurse, not as a technician.

Although she enjoyed her job and had over twenty years of experience in ophthalmology, she noticed she was being overlooked for promotions due to her lack of education. It wasn’t until her son became a college student that she saw the opportunity to further her education and pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.

She is beyond blessed and excited to see her goals and dreams come true.  She knows her life would not be the same without the challenges she’s encountered throughout her life and is thrilled to be a resident of the Coachella Valley, an area she started visiting over twenty-five years ago.