California State University, Northridge has been recognized as a “commuter school” for years. Most of us drag ourselves into our vehicles, onto the bus or, if we are lucky, onto a bike just to pedal down the street.
However, 23-year-old Brandy Dodd drives to and from San Diego to Northridge three times a week, rain or shine.
Imagine leaving at 11 a.m. to make a 3:30 p.m. class, attending the lecture, and then spending hours on the road for the second time, all in a single day.
“It’s more or less 140 miles and takes close to three hours each way, but that’s with absolutely perfect traffic,” Dodd said. “And any downtown dweller would know, perfect traffic is not something to hold your breath for.”
Past beaches, skyscrapers and hillsides, Dodd arrives on campus from San Diego every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday with a no-excuses attitude.
Now a senior, Dodd started her child and adolescent development degree at CSUN, then got married.
“I was supposed to graduate this semester, but due to budget cuts I still have four units to complete,” she said.
Dodd has been attending CSUN for a year while living in San Diego and doesn’t plan on moving closer.
When asked how she passes all her time behind the wheel, Dodd said, “I just think about how soon I can turn around and not be driving.”
And the strangest thing that has ever happened while frequenting the freeway was “making it to CSUN in two and a half hours…those days are rare even though I never make any stops,” Dodd said.
Brandy hates when motorcyclists swerve in between cars, but finds inspiration in personalized license plates.
“One I just saw said ‘UND2CHL’ or ‘you need to chill’,” she said, “I thought that was a wise statement.”
Luckily, Dodd has never gotten into any accidents unless bumping into the wall while parking counts.
“It was my husband’s piece-of -crap car, so it’s okay,” she said.
Speaking of her husband, he and her family constantly wonder how she continuously drives so far so often.
“I wonder sometimes the same thing,” she explains. “But I want to graduate, so the sooner I get it done, the sooner I can get on with the rest of my life.”
Dodd’s relationship with the road is one of love and hate.
“Three hours wasted in the car means I can’t read or study or play on the computer. I’m also all alone,” she said. “But, on the flip side, I’ve got three hours to think and plan and sing really loud without anyone around.”
All in all, it’s safe to say that a regular commute from San Diego to CSUN is a major disadvantage for a young wife and student.
“I can’t work because I have such inconsistent availability, and I’m constantly turning down social occasions because I’m too tired or too busy playing catch up with the rest of my life,” Dodd said. “Plus, group projects are a pain.”
One might think it’s more of a nuisance to have to complete homework assignments, find time to eat, and spend time with loved ones when all you really need is a good night’s sleep after a long day of car confinement. But Brandy manages nonetheless.
So commuters, next time you feel like skipping class because you think the distance is daunting or you are just too tired for your tires to hit the road, imagine Brandy Dodd, who ends with a warning against cops and motorcycles.
“They come out of nowhere,” she said.