Regina Porras Carlos, an alumna of the Diablo Valley College EOPS/CARE and CalWORKs programs, graduated May 27 from the Samuel Merritt University Nursing program with a Bachelor of Science degree.
For many, this is the natural progression of education and life. For Regina, this is a dream come true.
Born and raised in San Jose, Regina did not have an ideal childhood.
“I had a very dysfunctional family growing up,” she said. “Both of my brothers were in gangs, and education/college was never a priority. Both my parents had drug and alcohol problems, and during my sophomore year of high school, my home was even raided. My father was sent to prison for selling drugs.”
Needless to say, Regina’s education suffered. “I was very behind and was not eligible to graduate on time,” she said. “Then I was accepted into the Genesis High School program on the campus of Evergreen Valley Community College in San Jose. I took college courses for high school credit, and was able to graduate on time. I even received the Kiwanis Club “turn around” scholarship in 1999.”
During the following year, Regina took courses at San Jose City College. “Rudy [Rudy Carlos, the father of her children and recently her husband] and I moved to Sacramento in 2000,” she said. Their daughter, Audrey, was born in 2002, and for the next few years she was a stay-at-home mom.
Rudy’s job saw them transferred to Concord in 2004, and they both decided to enroll at DVC in the next year.
So in 2005, with her daughter safely ensconced in the DVC child care center, Regina enrolled at DVC, determined to get a college education. She started out intending to become a teacher, then changed her major to nursing.
She also connected with the EOPS/CARE and CalWORKs programs. The programs provided her much-needed help in the form of book vouchers, meal tickets, child care payments, gas cards, and—most importantly, she said– “a supportive program with people like Emily Stone, Donna DeRusso, and Raine Dougan, who believed in me, a Mexican-American single mother, the first in my family to attend college, and now the first to graduate from college.”
Regina strongly recommends DVC to others. “There are amazing programs that really work for families and minority groups,” she said. “They provided the supportive and loving family I never had, and I will never forget it. The Child Care Center director Joan Symonds, EOPS/CARE and the compassionate people who work for these programs are very special to me.
“Rudy and I both graduated from DVC in 2006, when I was 6 months pregnant with my son,” she continued. “My daughter Audrey is now nine years old and son Max is four. Both went to the DVC childcare center and loved the program as I did.”
Regina also took advantage of the services of the DVC Transfer Center. Through the Transfer Center, she found the Mills College pre-nursing program and was accepted. She took science pre-requisite courses at DVC and transferred to Mills in 2008. By completing that program, she was guaranteed acceptance into the Samuel Merritt University Nursing program in 2009. She completed the nursing program and graduated with a B.S. degree in nursing May 27. For the time being, she will take time off to be with her husband and children at their home in Pittsburg.
“Rudy has supported me and inspired me 100 percent in fulfilling my dream of becoming a nurse,” Regina said. “My children are my life now, and I can only hope they will never have to grow up with the struggles I had, and will understand just how important education is.
“I would love to become a mentor to other students and families in the EOPS/CARE programs, because I am proof these programs work, and I feel I owe them for everything they have done for me and my family.”
Does she have any advice for others who may be struggling with similar issues?
“Yes,” she said. “Never give up.”