COD Foundation’s Great Alumni Hunt Awards $15,000 in Scholarships

On Wednesday, October 25th during a Coachella Valley Firebirds game, 20 COD students who completed The Great Alumni Hunt were awarded $15,000 in Scholarships!

What started as an “Amazing Race-style” competition 28-days prior culminated in an emotionally powerful check presentation on center ice at Acrisure Arena. Over 1,200 alumni, who won tickets to the game, filled sections of the stadium cheering on the winning students.

Throughout the month, the 20 students raced to register COD alumni including several City Officials, Valley gamechangers and entries from as far as Japan! Nearly 2,000 entries were received from COD Alumni who shared their favorite and life-changing moments at the college.

The dynamic duo of Alyson Booth and Mireya Holguin claimed the first-place spot, securing a prestigious $3,000 scholarship. Reflecting on their victory, Mireya expressed, “The Great Alumni Hunt was a transformative experience that pushed me beyond my comfort zone, allowing me to hone my marketing and public speaking skills.” Alyson added, “I loved meeting COD alumni and learning how much better their life was after going to the school.” Both Alyson and Mireya shared their disbelief at their triumph after all of their hard work, making the moment all the more surreal.

“The COD Foundation initially aimed to award $6,000 in scholarships, but the enthusiasm of our sponsors was so contagious that they generously provided scholarships for the remaining 14 students!” exclaimed Catherine Abbott, Executive Director of the COD Foundation. “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all who were part of this remarkable journey.”

The COD Foundation thanks Presenting Sponsors: Jordan Schnitzer and the Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation and Eisenhower Health, who proudly employs COD Alumni equaling 40% of their nursing staff. Thanks also to Amazon, Renova Energy, COD Alumni Association, Toyota of the Desert, Visit Greater Palm Springs, First Bank, Valley Sanitary District, and exclusive media sponsors: News Channel 3, The Desert Sun, and LocaliQ.

20 COD Students are in an “Amazing Race-Style” Competition to Win One of 6 Valuable Scholarships!

The Great Alumni Hunt is on from September 29-October 25th! Twenty College of the Desert students have the incredible opportunity to win valuable scholarships during The Great Alumni Hunt as they hunt for COD alumni throughout the Coachella Valley and beyond. Each student will earn points for the greatest number of alumni that they add to their team by registering them using the “Alumni Registration” button.

Alumni who register will have the opportunity to win 2 tickets to October 25th’s Coachella Valley Firebirds game at Acrisure Arena! Points will be awarded for each individual who fills out the Alumni Registration form. Extra points may be awarded depending upon certain criteria such as unique professions, hometown location and earliest graduates.

The Launch Party is on Friday, September 29th at 9:00am-10:30am at COD’s Alumni Association office where the students and their mentors will be introduced, learn strategies to win and have an opportunity to start collecting their team members. Throughout the month, several Quick-Fire and Check-in Challenges will occur with the opportunity for more alumni to be found!

The Finale Celebration will take place on Wednesday, October 25th at Acrisure Arena where COD alumni will fill the stands and final points will be tallied, and scholarships announced center ice.

“Students will receive a tremendous networking opportunity for their career development working with their talented mentors! The Great Alumni Hunt will show the impact of our talented COD Alumni while supporting students who are putting themselves through school to achieve their educational dreams,” shares Catherine Abbott, Executive Director for COD Foundation.

“Education has the power to shape individuals and enhance communities. I am excited to be a team leader and find hundreds of alumni so they can share their transformative stories,” shares Jake Wuest, Market President of First Bank and Team Leader.

“It’s important to support COD students on their journey of self-discovery and career aptitude. I am so proud of these students who are imagining an exciting future and giving 1000% to achieve their goals,” shares Norma Castaneda, owner of HR Advantage, COD Alumna and Team Leader.

For more than 60 years, COD has made it possible for local students to pursue their academic dreams. In turn, these students become skilled nurses, firefighters, EMTs, chefs, hoteliers, architects, entrepreneurs, and business leaders of 125,000 alumni strong, who give back to our community, as well as generating over $300 million annually to our local economy.

If you know someone who attended COD, ask them to join the Great Alumni Hunt and click the Alumni Registration button above or click here. The COD Foundation thanks Presenting Sponsors: Eisenhower Health, Jordan Schnitzer and the Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation. We also thank Amazon, Toyota of the Desert,  Visit Greater Palm Springs, First Bank, Valley Sanitary District and exclusive media sponsors: News Channel 3, The Desert Sun, and LocaliQ. To sponsor the event, contact Catherine Abbott at 760.773.2561 or email

Sponsorship Opportunities

As a socially conscious and community-oriented donor, we know you support education. Your sponsorship includes co-branding a COD student-led Team plus ALL THE ALUMNI YOU CAN FIND! You can promote your team on social media, outfit them with your company brand and help them win a Scholarship. IT’S A WIN-WIN FOR EVERYONE!

Sponsors may benefit from:

Increased Brand Exposure | Our social media channels will spotlight the event teams and our sponsors. Make sure to love, comment and share!

Community Engagement | Foster goodwill and positive brand perception while supporting COD students’ education.

Networking Opportunities | Connect with like-minded organizations, expanding your network.

A Lasting Impact | Awarded Scholarships will have a transformative effect on the winning students.

We are excited to discuss the details of our potential partnership further. Please call Catherine Abbott at 760.773.2561, email or visit here.


Our Students

Abdiel Morales
Mentor: Curt Luttrel, Retired COD Faculty
Faculty: Irene Morales, Executive Administrative Assistant to COD Superintendent/President

Abelardo Rodriguez, Jr.
Mentors: Shari Stewart & Chris Anderson, COD Board of Directors
Faculty: Gary Walker, Adjunct Faculty, English

Adriana Garcia
Mentors: Antonio Rodriguez, Brittney Rodriguez, Jose Calderon, Oscar Ortiz
Faculty: Mike Rodriguez

Alberto Fernandez
Business Logistics/Supply Chain
Mentors: Antonio Rodriguez, Brittney Rodriguez, Jose Calderon, Oscar Ortiz
Faculty: Mike Rodriguez

Alyson Booth
Mentors: Candice Stankus, CBS2, & Fox 11
Faculty: Kent Kay, Digital Design Production

Alyssa Nieto
Mentors: Felix Marhuenda-Donate, Alejandro Jazan, & Shonna Perry of Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce
Faculty: Felix Marhuenda, Mark Rizzo, Alex Jazan

Angel Rocha
Mentors: Robert Dumas of Toyota of the Desert
Faculty: Doug Redman, Auto Mechanics

Charles Metcalf
Agriculture Plant Science
Mentors: Jason Dafforn, Holly Gould, Jeanette Juarez of Valley Sanitary District
Faculty: Dr. Mzilikazi Kone & Dr. Jermaine Cathcart, Black Student Success Center

Christopher Martinez
Business Administration
Mentors: Erica Abarca & Josh Heinz, Visit Greater Palm Springs
Faculty: Yolanda Bender, Hospitality; Cody McCabe, International Education; Tracey Ford, Culinary Arts

Dominic Mason
Mentors: Sheila Thorton & Kim McNulty, One Future CV
Faculty: Beth Allan-Bentley

Donaji Sandoval
Public Safety
Mentors: Justin Karp & Pete Tierney, Cal Fire
Faculty: Cameron Miller, Chantae Wilson, Walt Meyer, Public Safety

Felicia Bell
Hospitality Management
Mentor: David George, Former COD Superintendent/President
Faculty: Kurt Leuschner, Natural Resources

Fernando Prado
Automotive Technology
Mentor: Robert Dumas of Toyota of the Desert
Faculty: Doug Redman, Auto Mechanics

John Williamson
Mentor: COD Alumni Association
Faculty: Betsy Young, Alumni Association

John-Mark Owen
Mentors: Lessette Benedetti of Renova Energy & Jose Dozal, Eisenhower Health
Faculty: Sarah Fry, Elena Mijarez, Nursing

Joseph Pestano
Public Safety
Mentors: Justin Karp & Pete Tierney, Cal Fire
Faculty: Cameron Miller, Chantae Wilson, Walt Meyer, Public Safety

Lauge Bacca
Mentors: Abby Miller of Leadership Coachella Valley
Faculty: Marge Dodge, Flo Wolff & The COD Foundation Academic Angels

Madeline McQuown
Public Safety
Mentors: Justin Karp & Pete Tierney, Cal Fire
Faculty: Cameron Miller, Chantae Wilson, Walt Meyer, Public Safety

Madigan Escobar
Business, Marketing
Mentors: Norma Castaneda & Theresa Maggio, HR Advantage
Faculty: Carlos Maldonado, Student Services

Marcelo Romero Molina
Mentors: Lucio Bernal & Jon Smith of BSG Luxury Homes, Eric Orneals of
Faculty: Giuseppe Vezzoli, Biology

Mireya Holguin
Mentors: Candice Stankus, CBS2 & Fox 11
Faculty: Kent Kay, Digital Design Production

Molly Glaab
Mentors: Palm Springs Architecture Alliance
Faculty: Bert Bitanga, Marina Acosta, Jose Lopez, Architecture

Reanna Gutierrez
Administrative of Justice
Mentors: Jake Wuest of First Bank, Ruairi Clerkin of Meryll Lynch at Bank of America, Mario Hernandez of Desert United
Faculty: Antoine Clerc, Political Science

Savana Zamorez
Mentors: Shawn Abramowitz, Spectrum
Faculty: Katie Chartier COD’s EDGE/plEDGE program

Shekinah Daffon
Mentors: Mayor Pro Term Guadalupe Anith of the City of Indio
Faculty: Angel Meraz, Jocelyn Vargas, Scott Cooper, Counseling