Student Experience at College of San Mateo
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Student Experience
Dee Dee  Pickard
Dee Dee Pickard Stanford University, Social Psychology After earning a degree from the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, professional singer Dee Dee Pickard built a successful career in the music industry as a vocalist performing in corporate bands, doing studio work and sessions and teaching voice. When Dee Dee, a single mother, moved from Los Angeles to the Bay Area, she was ready for something different. “After a break of six years, I decided to go back to college. I researched schools in the Bay Area and when I visited CSM, I really liked the campus and more importantly, it felt like the right place for me.” After getting her daughter settled in a local school, Dee Dee enrolled at CSM and immersed herself in the role of college student.

“The transition from working professional to full-time student has been interesting. Socializing with a younger crowd, scheduling my already full life around school, and narrowing my academic focus were all issues I grappled with.” To ease her return to college, Dee Dee enrolled in a Career and Life Planning Class, “This class was very helpful. It made me think about what I truly wanted out of school and then target specific avenues. I had a lot of preconceived notions about the reasons I should choose a certain career path over another. I learned that just because I’m skilled in a particular area, it doesn’t mean I have to plan my whole future around that skill set. I can choose a path that intersects with my passions and acquire the tools I need along the way.”

Dee Dee was willing to take on more challenge this time around. When her English professor, Tim Maxwell, announced that the college’s Honors Project (a learning community for exceptionally motivated students) was hosting a mixer for prospective members, she decided to attend. After speaking with several students participating in the project, Dee Dee applied and was accepted. She was attracted to the project’s emphasis on research, and consequently was able to pair an honors course with her psychology class, a field in which she intends to conduct university-level research once she completes her degree. Her involvement in the Honors Project has fostered a deeper commitment in all her studies, allowed her to make connections with other talented students and helped her form friendships within the honors community. During her first semester in the Honors Project, Dee Dee decided to spearhead a new honors newsletter. As the creator and editor of The Labyrinth, she oversees the editorial staff and manages the production of the publication.

“Since my return to school, I’ve reinvented myself. I’ve been fortunate to encounter inspiring people; namely the professors that I’m working with in the Honors Project—Tim Maxwell, Mohsen Janatpour and Jim Clifford.”  Dee Dee is also active in several clubs on campus: she is an executive member of Alpha Gamma Sigma; serves on The Project, the Honors Project club; is a member of the Speech and Debate Club; and is a participant in Let’s Chat, a program supported by the International Student Center.  Additionally, she has worked extensively over the last two semesters to organize and perform in Human Rights Day, a campuswide event held each semester, which promotes awareness of human rights violations and celebrates our freedoms.

“My experiences and strengths differ from those of the typical student entering college for the first time. I’m always looking for ways to get involved in the CSM community and lend my leadership skills,” says Dee Dee. While she speculated how she would fit in socially among students mostly younger than her, she found her classmates inspiring – “they come from so many different places and each has a story.”

She chose social psychology as a major and planned to transfer to the UC system or private university in fall 2016. As it turned out she was offered a scholarship to study at Stanford and is currently enrolled as a junior. Dee Dee still works as a professional vocalist and plans to keep her musical career alive no matter where her academic journey leads. Looking back at her decision to return to school at CSM, she says, "It feels right – I made the right choice."