CSUB Antelope Valley grad quits longtime job to hit the books

May 28, 2008
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu
Grad quits job to hit books Photo

Nancy Regalado realized she was tired. She was tired of watching opportunities pass her by. She was tired of not making more money. She was tired of not growing in her career.

With a son serving in Iraq, a daughter away at college, and two other children in high school and elementary school she decided it was her time. So the Antelope Valley resident talked it over with her husband, quit her job and headed back to class.

Now, after just 17 months, she will graduate on Saturday, June 7, with a bachelor's degree in communications from California State University, Bakersfield. "I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it is possible to get a bachelor's degree in a year and a quarter," she said.

Regalado, 48, had been working at the Department of Motor Vehicles for more than two decades. "I watched my friend get her degree and obtain a job that paid more than what I was making after 23 years and then she got promoted to a second-level management position," she said. That was her wake up call. "Although the DMV was a great job with great benefits, I was spurred to look at other career opportunities."

The mother of four began working on her associate's degree at Antelope Valley College and her bachelor's at the CSUB Antelope Valley Center campus at the same time. "I was able to get my associate's and bachelor's in less than two years, which gives me a very strong sense of accomplishment," she said.

Others are proud as well. "I've know Nancy for years, and I can say that I was impressed with how she set a goal for herself and accomplished it so successfully," said Debby Rodrigues, CSUB AVC student services coordinator. "With all that was going on in her life at the time, she still stepped out and went back to school in order to make a better life for herself and her family. Her dedication and determination I hope inspires other students to complete their own educational goals."

Regalado appreciates CSUB's local campus in the Antelope Valley. "The thought of commuting to Bakersfield or Northridge may be prohibitive to many perspective students, including myself," she said. "The opportunity to learn and achieve a bachelor's degree at the AVC campus has been a great privilege. I have thoroughly enjoyed achieving this goal every step of the way."

She has discovered a passion for lifelong learning. "I have loved every single class that I have taken," she said. 'Even the ones that I thought would be boring, like general education, turned out to be incredibly interesting. They have opened my mind and broadened my understanding of topics I never knew existed.

"I also find myself reading textbooks for fun rather than fiction novels. I listen to the news and follow politics in addition to watching 'I Love Lucy.' I am now committed to taking a college level course in various disciplines for the rest of my life. Learning has been fun, challenging and rewarding."

Earning her degrees wasn't always as easy as Regalado makes it sound. Raising a family can be a job in itself and she had more to worry about than just a homework assignment. "My oldest son just finished his second tour in Iraq," she detailed. "He was there for over a year during each tour. It was very hard at first. The thought that I may never see him again weighed very heavy on my heart, but he has made it back safely for which we thank God. Our prayers and thoughts go out to all of the young men and women over there and to their parents and spouses as well."

Regalado isn't finished with the blue and gold just yet. "I look forward to a bright new career using my degree as a key to open additional career opportunities," she said. "I have enrolled in the master's of science in administration online program at CSUB so my next step is to obtain a master's degree while working at my new job."

And her past has helped develop this desire to continue. "I was adopted from an orphanage in Korea by my American parents. While I never knew my biological parents, my adopted parents loved all of their kids - all adopted too - and gave us the opportunity to experience life in America. As a first generation Korean American, I appreciate the educational opportunities we have in this country. The freedoms we enjoy along with the enormous potential for prosperity is something I never want to take for granted."