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Meet Cody West

Cody West has traveled a long and winding path from a life of substance abuse and jail to becoming a straight A student at MiraCosta College.

West is one of five MiraCosta College students who will be receiving a Medal of Academic Merit award, the college’s highest academic honor. Recipients are awarded a medal that may be worn at commencement and will be acknowledged in the commencement program.

Growing up in Wisconsin, West said family members with substance abuse problems surrounded him. His own addictions – and his first arrest - began while he was in high school. He graduated from high school in 2011 and began attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, but said he was expelled as his drug and alcohol abuse got worse.

He moved to San Diego in 2015 hoping to escape his family’s addiction issues, but his abuse of drugs and alcohol only got worse. By 2018, West was hoping to improve his life by attending MiraCosta College, only to withdraw or fail his classes due to his substance abuse problem. Later that year, he ended up in jail, then wound up homeless.

“I just wanted to give up. I was hoping I would get shot by the police,” he said. “I had no hope.”

He enrolled in MiraCosta College then, but couldn’t handle the coursework. He ended up back in jail when he wasn’t living out of his car.

West finally decided to kick his habit and went to a drug treatment center in San Diego. He also began attending meetings of an anonymous program.

“I was like ‘I’m done,’” he said. “I had a lot of support. These people (at the program) really got me connected. They helped me out.”

In 2020, he enrolled in MiraCosta College for a second time. He relied heavily on the college’s Transitions program, which supports students for people impacted by incarceration.

West said he has maintained a 4.0 grade point average as he pursues an associate degree in Computer Studies and Information Technology. He also shared his life story, which is now part of a book used in MiraCosta’s English classes and featured at the college’s Reading Festival.

West said he’s gotten lots of support from MiraCosta College faculty and staff as he pursues his education while celebrating four years of sobriety.

“When I got clean, I wanted the full college experience,” he said. “The professors have been super helpful. If there’s a resource on campus, I’ve used it.”

West has been accepted at San Diego State University and California State University, San Marcos (CSUSM), and is trying to decide which one to attend. He plans to get a bachelor’s degree in information systems and hopes to work in information systems at a drug treatment center.

“I want to help addicts, but I want to help in my capacity in IT,” he said.

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