12 C O L L E G E T O C A R E E R Viviana Dominguez has high aspirations. “I’d love to contribute to humanity,”the Indio resident and 2017 La Quinta High graduate said.“If I can discover how a virus affects someone and study it, it would really contribute.To work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and solve that type of mystery would be amazing.” Thanks to College of the Desert’s new tuition-free plEDGE program, the biology major can focus on her dream. “The plEDGE program was the main factor in helping me decide to go to College of the Desert,” saidViviana, who will be the first in her family to graduate from college. “As a STEM major, I have to take a lot of classes and I knew I was going to need the support. Because of the plEDGE, I can focus on my studies rather than having to work or help provide for the family.” In just one semester at COD,Viviana has been extremely involved. She’s serving as one of the President’s Student Ambassadors and the secretary of the EDGE Club, and is a member of the school’s Biology, Chemistry, MESA and Rotaract clubs. After graduating from College of the Desert in May 2019,Viviana said she is considering applying to Stanford, UCLA, and UC San Diego to get her bachelor’s and master’s degrees – and possibly a doctorate – in molecular biology or something along those lines. It may be difficult to imagine, butViviana wasn’t always interested in biology. “When I was a kid, I hated science so much,”she said.“My high school teacher and International Baccalaureate biology teacher had such a passion for it.They inspired me. After going through their classes, I thought biology would always be interesting to me. If I wasn’t in their classes, where would I be now?” Those teachers have inspired her to consider teaching someday as well.“I’ll probably work in the field and, many years later after contributing to humanity, I think I’d want to teach biology – perhaps at the college level.” She recommends the plEDGE and EDGE program to all incoming students.“Being able to review everything was so helpful,”she said.“I would definitely do it again.” STEM Major Focuses on Biology Passion “The plEDGE program was the main factor in helping me decide to go to College of the Desert.”