GoGirl! Grant Recipients
Noelle was born in Fresno to a single mother of five children. When she was two years old her grandmother took she and her big sister under her wing while her mother was in rehabilitation for substance abuse. The first time Noelle witnessed the beauty of nursing was when her grandmother passed away unexpectedly from congestive heart failure. However, it wasn’t until a decade later that she discovered nursing was for her. As it turns out, her sister was also diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Having lost her grandmother to the same condition, she developed a burning desire to understand the heart’s function. She spent hours researching congestive heart failure. Luckily, with an amazing team of nurses and doctors, her sister’s life was spared. As a first-generation student, Noelle was driven to nursing by overcoming adversity and unexpected life experience. Her biggest motivation is to create an intangible experience for her future patients. Noelle is currently enrolled in the College of the Desert’s Nursing program. Her ultimate goal is to improve the overall health of the community through education in preventative healthcare. Nursing does not only require being intelligent; it requires commitment and heart. Ultimately, it will grant her the chance to emulate what the nurses and doctors did to save her sister’s life.
Vivian Arriaga“When Life Give You Lemons… Become a Nurse!” Vivian Arriaga grew up in a first generation Mexican-American household. That brought many challenges, but Vivian was determined to succeed. She worked in the banking industry from the age of 16 and when the banking crisis happened in 2010, she decided to reinvent herself. She became an LVN and found a profound love for nursing. She has goals and wants to show her two small children the value of an education. Her desire is to complete the BSN program at CSUSB, pass the NCLEX and gain experience as an RN while studying for her doctorate. NICU, pediatric oncology, sexual assault nurse examiner and fertility are the areas of interest for her. Life has not been easy for her, but it has shaped the person she is, the Mother she decided to be and the Nurse she dreams of becoming. .
Nicole Aslan was raised in Indio; one of four children. There was a point in Nicole’s life that her mom decided to go back to school to become a Registered Dental Assistant. Her mom commuted to Rosemead every day and graduated. Witnessing what her mom did while raising four kids and going to school inspired Nicole. Because of her mom’s accomplishments, Nicole always knew she could to anything if she worked hard. Nicole was recently accepted to California State University San Bernardino-Palm Desert. She is pursuing her degree in Liberal Studies. She has a passion for helping others and knows she will love being a teacher. She chose this career because she believes we live in a world where children need to be inspired and supported. As a teacher, she wants to make sure her students believe in themselves. After completing her education, Nicole wants to teach at one of the schools she attended as a child. She knows it’s important to give back to the community that helped her become the person she is today.
She’s excited to become a part of the Girlfriend Factor program and feels being supportive of each other is a powerful thing. She wants to teach her daughter that she can be whatever she wants to be and to be an inspiration to her daughter just like her mom was to her.
Michele Barfuss was born and raised in Palm Springs and loves the Coachella Valley. She is the first in her family to earn a college degree. She has studied at College of the Desert, California State University San Bernardino and has also obtained her real estate license. Working with new home buyers reach their goal of becoming ‘homeowners’ for the first time has given her a great feeling of accomplishment. It was through helping her clients navigate the unchartered waters of real estate transactions that she came to realize what her true calling is. She is now a second-year law student at California Desert Trial Academy. Her goal is to graduate in three years, take and pass the California General Bar Exam and remain in the Coachella valley and practice real estate law. CDTA has a limited means legal clinic, La Reina Legal Clinic, where she can do pro-bono work for indigent clients. She hopes to participate in this program and continue to give back to those that call the Coachella Valley ‘home’ and to make a difference in her community.
Annabel BarrosoAnnabel Barroso’s dream from the age of eight was to become a nurse. She’s worked hard and faced many obstacles to get to where she is today and is happy to say her path in life to be a nurse is clearer than ever. She attended classes at COD and then transferred to Copper Mountain’s school of nursing. Her goal is to continue her education by obtaining her Bachelor’s degree and to eventually obtain her Nurse practitioner degree. Her dream would be to be a charge nurse of a trauma center saving lives. She has learned through it all to never give up! .
Laura Calhoun was born and raised in the Coachella Valley. She graduated high school from Desert Chapel Christian in Palm Springs and also played basketball. At that point she didn’t have a true career path. It was her mom that sparked her interest in the medical field. Her mom was an amazing nurse and with that inspiration she decided to attend Kaplan College as a medical assistant in hopes of getting a steady job. That was five years ago. Having a young daughter has further inspired her to obtain her Associate of Nursing degree and her Registered Nursing license. Two years ago she completed her prerequisites for the Registered Nursing Program. Now Laura is enrolled in the College of the Desert’s Nursing program. Her goal is to secure an adequate income for her daughter’s future by striving for higher education. As Laura says; “Nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it”.
Keosha Campbell is a second-year nursing student at College of the Desert. As a registered nurse, she feels her options are limitless. Her interests range from emergency nursing to the field of forensics where she can one day care for victims of assault, domestic violence, neglect and other heinous crimes. In 2007 Keosha became a medical assistant and in 2009 began working at Loma Linda University. The hospital’s mission statement is ‘To make man whole’ which she has adopted as her own personal statement. At Loma Linda she works closely with veterans and feels it is a privilege to aid in improving their lives by providing exceptional healthcare. Keosha is also involved in volunteer outreach programs in the Coachella Valley. She works with the Veteran’s Association and helps conduct food drives. She is also a member of the Student Nurses Association at College of the Desert and attends meetings that foster the development of student nurses. Staying involved in the community and lending a helping hand where she can is important and meaningful to her.
Keosha truly envisions dedicating the remainder of her life to those in need and to healing individuals who are broken.
Crystal CordovaAfter working and excelling in the emergency department at a local hospital as an insurance admitting representative, Crystal Cordova came to realize that providing bedside care with patients was her true calling. As a single mother of four children, Crystal is determined to meticulously plan her short-term and long-term goals. Her short-term goal is to complete her Associate Degree in Nursing, and to pass the State of California’s NCLEX exam and obtain her RN license. Her long-term goal is to enroll in a BSN program and lastly to enroll in a Master of Science-Family Nurse Practitioner program. Through many obstacles, she is determined to climb her way to the top and prove to her children that nothing is impossible. .
Paola CresslerWe were first introduced to Paola Cressler in 2012 when she was attending College of the Desert as a GoGirl! recipient. Married and with a young daughter, Paola worked full time while going to school. Now fast forward to 2018. After graduating from Cal State San Bernardino and substitute teaching in her own classroom for three years, it’s time to complete her teaching credentials and Masters program so she can continue to teach here in the Coachella Valley. Her students are the high school children she had dreamed of working with. Many are the children of migrant workers who haven’t been encouraged to pursue a college education and perhaps might find themselves following in the steps of their parents as field workers. As a field worker once herself, she remembers her teachers pushing her to continue her college education. Today, she sits in front of her classroom and encourages her students to do the same. She continues to look forward to taking the time to sit down with students and help them realize education doesn’t end at high school. It is only the beginning of an amazing journey
Bonnie FalkowskiDealing with the legal system to overcome personal issues has fueled Bonnie Falkowski’s passion for the law and inspired her to return to school to become a lawyer. She is a full time student at COD working toward an Associate Degree in Administration of Justice. Ultimately working towards her law degree. Once she completes her studies she hopes to work for a law firm and continue her studies to become a lawyer. Her ultimate goal is to be an advocate for children and to eventually change laws with regard to child abuse. Bonnie is a single mother of an adopted daughter. In their free time they volunteer at a rescue mission for the homeless.
As a single mother, it has been a juggling act for April Franco to balance school, work and the care taking of her two young sons. But, through adversity, she has succeeded in completing all of her nursing school prerequisites and has been accepted at both College of the Desert and CSUSB! She’s chosen to attend CSUSB and earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. April has always found the human body fascinating and wondered how she could have an impact on healing and helping others. Her passion is to help assist in diagnosing illness, but more importantly, she hopes to come up with solutions for the preventative aspect of nursing. She feels that there are so many things that we could be doing as humans to create healthier living that could contribute to less illness and disease. Her goal upon receiving her BS in Nursing is to work in a hospital, either in the ER or a trauma unit. Her long-term goal is to obtain her credentials as a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant. At the end of each semester, after receiving A’s, she knows her hard work and dedication will enable her to complete her goals.
As a single mother of two, Deborah Greenman knew it would be beneficial to attend college; not only did it provide her with an unconventional schedule, it allowed her to optimize the time she had with her children and allowed her to stay active in their education while providing them with the time for extracurricular activities. At this point, Deborah was 40 years of age. After struggling with school during her youth, she has realized she is a good student who has excelled in her classes. She’s discovered a joy for learning that she had not anticipated or experienced before. She attended San Bernardino Valley College and upon moving to the desert is continuing her education at College of the Desert. She is working towards a Business Associate degree with an
emphasis in management and finance as well as a Liberal Arts Associate’s degree with an emphasis in Arts, Humanities and Communications. In the future, Deborah’s goal is to work for a company that provides outreach and services to the Coachella Valley.
At the age of 23, Martha Gutierrez arrived here from Cuba. While there she had developed an interest in writing, the performing arts and languages. It wasn’t until she came to America that she began to embraced our capitalist system and refocused her goals. She is now enrolled at COD and would like to get a degree in Business Administration. Her goal is to help others analyze their economic problems to benefit themselves and their community. She has, however, never forgotten her love of music and often performs Opera for various charity events.
Jeannette Haworth was born and raised in Orange County. She worked in the veterinary field for over twenty years, obtained her registered veterinary license in 2004 and then her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science in 2010. She has lived in Indio for the past ten years with her husband and their two children, Ellie and Evan. She has enjoyed working with
animals, but her allergies became a problem. As it turns out, Jeannette is allergic to animals! She enjoys assisting in surgery and daily nursing care, so she felt switching to ‘human’ nursing was a natural step. She entered the RN program at College of the Desert in 2018. Her husband has been her biggest supporter and has encouraged her to follow her dream of becoming an RN.
Jeannette looks forward to contributing financially to her family while at the same time she can remain active in her children’s activities which include karate, soccer and softball.
Tikva Krindle worked as a registered massage therapist for the past eleven years, beginning her career in Vancouver, British Columbia. She was born and raised in Canada, and only moved to California nine years ago to help care for her grandmother who was 94 years old at the time. While continuing her massage therapy career here in the Coachella Valley, it became clear it is a very different field than in Canada. She felt the disparity between her career at home and in California was immense and that she was falling short of her potential. At this point she became involved with the Palm Springs Mounted Police Search and Rescue unit as a volunteer. She had the opportunity to work alongside flight nurses and their passion spoke to her so deeply, she began to reconsider her career choice. Therefore, she began her journey to a degree in nursing from the very beginning in the hopes of becoming a ritical care or emergency surgery nurse. She believes she would be able to serve the city which has welcomed her and come closer to reaching her potential in the medical field. She is now beginning her third semester of the nursing program at College of the Desert. She still visits her now 102 year old grandmother and is blessed with a beautiful daughter.
Reaching her goals is a gift to herself and her family, as well as the community. She feels her intentions must be followed by actions, and she intends against any odds, to find the tangible within her dreams and aspirations.
Crystal LopezPursuing her education is not just a goal Crystal Lopez is trying to reach; it is a journey that provides her with a sense of contentment. Her career focus has always been in healthcare and she is working diligently to follow her plan and achieve her goals while caring for her two young children as a single mother. Her family background includes generations of teen pregnancies and domestic and substance abuse, but Crystal has always been determined to make something of herself. She is the first in her family to attend college and to receive her Associate Degree. Her current goal is to complete the nursing program at CSUSB and work toward her ultimate goal of becoming a nurse. Once she receives her nursing license she would like to apply to a nurse residency program that enables her to keep learning, as well as explore and pursue her career in healthcare.She is part of the Coyote Nurses organization and volunteers to various activities, including the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the California Careforce free medial services event.
Makeyli Marroquin was eight years old when her parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico to provide her family with a better future. It wasn’t until two years later that she and her two younger brothers were able to join their parents in the United States. She learned English and when she was able to, she started working after school at a gas station in Thermal to earn an income and continue her education and attend college. She enrolled at College of the Desert in 2012 and continued to work part-time to pay for her expenses. After a car accident prevented her from staying in school, she found herself working at a gas station once again and knew she wanted more. In 2016 she registered for the Administrative Office Professional course at the School of Career Education. As a result, she was hired by Spotlight 29 Casino as their Community Affairs Administrator. While working for the casino, the Tribe offered her the opportunity to work for their nonprofit organizations. She has also become the primary contact for the Board Members and the Tribal and Casinos Health Benefits Assistant and she loves it! She is currently enrolled at College of the Desert and plans on obtaining her General Business Degree in order to become a more valuable asset in her current position.
She has always been motivated by the phrase; “Get yourself educated”. Looking at all of the great opportunities she now has, she has realized that she needs to follow her passion of exploring and learning more each day.
In 2012 Tanya Martinez received her Associate’s degree in Business Administration. Her goal was to become a manager in a retail company. However, she discovered she didn’t have the passion for retail management and began searching for what would make her happy. In 2016 Tanya began taking classes in order to apply for the nursing program at College of the Desert. Earning A’s and B’s, she gained more confidence and realized she does have what it takes to become a nurse. She became friends with her classmates and became even more excited about her future. After completing her first semester at College of the Desert in the nursing program, Tanya has realized even more that nursing is her passion and that she could wake up every morning proud of her career and accomplishments. She has immersed herself in her program and plans on gaining as much knowledge from her fellow students and instructors so she can take that knowledge into her practice.
Helping patients has made her extremely happy and fulfilled, which is what she’s been wanting
her whole life.
As a child, Anastasia Midkiff was ambitious in all her endeavors and it followed her into adulthood. She is a licensed Esthetician and worked diligently to move up in her field. She expanded her knowledge and added certifications under her license. Although a successful Esthetician, she knew she needed more financial stability and insurance for her family. At this point she went to trade school to obtain her Phlebotomy license. She was then hired at a local hospital in an entry level lab position. Once again, her ambitions kicked in. Finding her passion in this field, she came to the conclusion that if she wants a better life for her son, she needs to lead by example. Her path has taken her back to the College of the Desert where she is studying to become a Medical Lab Technician. An MLT is a technician that works alongside a Clinical Laboratory Scientist and runs tests on blood and body fluid specimens.
She is bound and determined and will not fail. She wants to prove to both she and her son that she can and will do better for them.
Ashley Moore’s dream since graduating high school has always been to become a Registered Nurse. As a single mother, she worked as a caregiver throughout school to provide for her two young children. She completed the Licensed Vocational Nurse program at College of the Desert to increase her odds of getting accepted to the RN program. She got her first job at Eisenhower Health as an LVN and has worked with a primary care doctor since then. On weekends she works at Urgent Care in order to gain more experience. Staying true to her goals, and after applying three times for the very competitive RN program at COD, she was accepted! Due to her fulltime career and being able to slowly increase her credit score, she was also able to purchase her first home. Ashley believes great accomplishments come with sacrifice. This is the last step in her strenuous marathon to complete her lifelong goal of becoming a Registered Nurse.
Irene Morales is a first generation college student. Her parents were migrant seasonal farm workers. When she looks for motivation, she envisions her father. He has always been driven and hungry for success and she wants to be just as motivated as he is. Irene is determined to obtain her AA in Psychology and is on track to begin her courses at CSUSB in Palm Desert. Her goal is to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
With seven years of experience working with students at College of the Desert, she truly enjoys being a person of resource to the community. She has collaborated with directors and staff to help develop informational events for the community. She can envision herself continuing to help others. That would be her dream come true.
Mireida Navarro has resided in the Coachella Valley since the age of five. Her parents were migrant workers and as a young girl, Mireida worked alongside her mother during the summer to help provide she and her siblings their school supplies and clothing. When she was in high school, she had the opportunity to join the Health Academy at Coachella Valley High School. That is where her passion for the medical field began. After working as a medical assistant for nine years, Mireida went back to school and earned her LVN. She has always been determined to continue her education and apply to the RN program. Her three young daughters also serve as inspiration. She is currently enrolled at College of the Desert in the RN program. Her ultimate goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner and give back to her community, the Coachella Valley. She wants to show her daughters that there are many opportunities in learning and teaching others. Every day is a great day to learn something new.
Carolina A. PantaleoCarolina A. Pantaleo, who was born and raised in Mexico City, came to America upon meeting and marrying a San Franciscan. Carolina decided to return to school, get a degree, and become a nurse. In the summer of 2004, she moved with her 2 daughters to the desert where she worked long hours at 2 jobs while taking prerequisite nursing classes at College of the Desert. When her eldest daughter fell ill, Carolina put her studies on hold to work full-time and care for her ailing child. Fortunately, her daughter survived; she and her sister are currently attending college. Now it’s time for Carolina to finish what she started many years ago.
Almost 19 years ago Audrey Phillips went to cosmetology school at Champion Institute of Cosmetology in Palm Springs and completed the Esthetician program. She feels blessed to have her Esthetics license and absolutely loves working with people in the capacity she does. Audrey enjoys helping her clients feel better by simply relaxing and getting away from the stress in their lives,
even if it’s just for a short time. Unfortunately, after over 18 years as an Esthetician, Audrey has found it’s taken a toll on her body. She has had shoulder surgery for a severe labrum tear. Her goal is to stay in her chosen field, but she must look at alternatives to remain self-sufficient. As it turns out, her current employer has offered her a manicuring position. With the help of her GoGirl! Grant, Audrey will be able to complete the classes required for her Manicuring license.
Audrey is excited to learn something new that will empower her as a woman, while staying in the field that she is so passionate about.
Mariana Sanchez is currently working toward achieving her career goal of becoming a Registered Nurse. Her desires and dreams of becoming an RN brought her to the Coachella Valley from Barstow nearly six years ago. Mariana completed her Certified Nursing Assistant degree at College of the Desert as well as the prerequisites for the RN program at College of the Desert and is currently in the RN program there. These programs have confirmed her goal of becoming an RN. She feels she has the characteristics needed to become a great nurse. In her free time, Mariana likes to spend time with her dog, Furby. She enjoys outdoor activities like hiking and exercising. Exercising is not only an activity she does to keep up with a healthy lifestyle, it also helps relieve stress from her busy life.
She hopes to be able to make an impact in other people’s lives by being there for them mentally and physically so that they can achieve a healthy lifestyle. Her long-term career goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner.
Anyse Ruth Smith
Anyse Ruth Smith’s life and experiences are not of your average variety. In 2010 she received her Master’s in International Law, International Relations and Diplomacy from the Paris Sorbonne University – Abu Dhabi. She was the first American student to attend this university. By the time she completed her degree was fluent in both French and Arabic. Three years later she was living at the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission in Indio. It was at the mission, surrounded by the men and women who by different circumstances had found themselves in the same place, that she found purpose. Eventually she was hired at the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission as the assistant to the Program Director and was then promoted to the Housing Manager. She collaborated with Riverside County Probation and the Riverside County Public Defender’s Office. She found herself in awe of their degree of dedication in representing those who could not speak for themselves. That is why she applied to law school and why she has dedicated herself to becoming an attorney. She is currently enrolled at California Desert Trial Academy College of Law (CDTA) and is blessed and beyond thrilled to be working in the area of criminal defense while completing her law school education. After graduating, she aspires to work in the field of International Law, focusing on Criminal Law and Human Rights.
Christina Taboda can’t say she has always wanted to be a nurse, but she has always known she wanted to help others. Her passion for helping others started at a young age when she watched both her siblings struggle with mental illness. It was the caretaker’s compassion and empathy that not only gave her siblings hope, but also helped her parents cope with their challenges. The kind spirits of all the nurses resonated within her and she knew one day she would help others in the same manner. Christina is currently enrolled in the College of the Desert’s Nursing program. As a student, she has always strived to prove to herself that she can do anything once she has set her mind to it. She will continue with this work ethic and make great efforts to gain the knowledge necessary to be an honest, passionate and well-educated nurse. Her desire is to give back to the community and the medical field that has helped her family so much.
Isabel Torres is currently a student at California Desert Trial Academy in Indio. She is entering her third year of law school and completed her second year as one of the top students in her class. She is also employed full-time at Dolan Law Offices, where she is a Certified Law Clerk. In this capacity, she works closely with clients daily to ensure that their legal needs are met and guides clients through the legal process. She appreciates the beauty behind redemption, hope and second chances that legal professionals offer people. As a Hispanic woman from Coachella, a sanctuary city where the majority of residents are people of color who are economically disadvantaged, she feels a duty to give back to the community that helped shape her. She’s found that communication is key to bridging gaps that keeps us divided.
One of her goals is to become a tool for the community to enhance and better understand the law of the land. Since her youth, Isabel has had a thirst for justice. She strives one day to become a bridge that connects disconnected communities with her degree. She hopes to have a platform to represent the people of her community to make positive and progressive impacts. For these
reasons, she has been motivated to pursue a career in Immigration Law and Civil Rights Law.
Aimee Vasquez was born in the Coachella Valley to a young, loving, interracial couple. Two years later, her sister was born. Aimee was raised to love everyone and treat everyone with respect, but she was also exposed to strangers judging, whether kind hearted or not, why she and her sister didn’t resemble each other. It took her well into her teens to accept the fact that her family
was ‘different’ in the eyes of many of her peers. The preconception of the ‘ideal’ family is one factor that lead her to her passion of medicine. In medicine, you do not see color. She feels there are still racial and psychological inequalities that exist in medicine today and she wants to help change that stigma. Aimee’s mother was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disease and at an early age, her mother passed away. Aimee was angry about the stigma mental illness has in our society. Fueled with this urgency of change, she put all her efforts info finishing school. After weighing all her medical career options, she felt an immense passion for nursing. She is currently in the College of the Desert Nursing Program. Her long-term goal is to become a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
“My past will forever shape my future. My story will never be over. Becoming a nurse and helping people is just the beginning.” ~ Aimee