Determination doesn’t pay the bills, but it makes getting to the bank a little easier.
Ask Regina Hollins. Her internal drive and determination motivated by love and concern for her son changed her life. A former fast food shift manager who struggled from one paycheck to the next, she is now a refining industry process technician, living in her own home, traveling and, most importantly, ensuring a quality of life for her son – with a few extras now and then.
The 31-year old Louisiana native does not hesitate to tell you she dropped out of high school, had a child and tried to make it in the fast food business. “There just wasn’t enough money for us to live,” she recalls. Her drive kicked in quickly, however, and she pursued her G.E.D., studying three hours a day until she was prepared to take the high school diploma test. She passed the first time.
“You have to have fortitude to get it done, but I felt driven to do it. When I achieved the G.E.D. I realized that I did have a major drive and could move forward,” Hollins said.
Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina displaced the young mother and her son to Texas for two years, but she remained motivated, graduating from hair styling school while continuing to work. Returning to Louisiana, she found that the hair business in her hometown was not profitable. She had to find another source of income, enrolling in bartending school for a quick certification. Soon she was doing hair during the day and tending bar on the weekends, juggling her schedule around her son’s needs and care.
That’s not all. Hollins enrolled in a community college, later transferring to Southern University in New Orleans, excelling in the pharmacy program. When a family situation triggered time away from her studies, Hollins decided to take a break. “I just didn’t want to continue if I couldn’t make the best grades,” she emphasized.
Attending a career workshop for women, Hollins was encouraged to obtain a process technology degree and pursue a career in the petrochemical industry. “Because I had completed sciences and other courses at Southern, I was able to graduate in 38 weeks and was fortunate to get an internship, and later a full-time job at the Shell/Motiva Norco Manufacturing Complex.”
“I don’t have to work three jobs at a time now,” she smiles. “I am no longer chasing money to pay the bills. Now I have free time to travel, to do things for my son and be more available to do things with him.”
Of course, a new job, especially one in a traditionally male-dominated field, comes with a few challenges. “I knew how to balance my time. That transition was easy; the hardest part was learning to enjoy a life that did not have every minute accounted for,” she said.
Life is going well for Hollins and her 11-year-old son. She is particularly enjoying the benefits that come with her full-time employment. “Healthcare with dental coverage is the best,” she laughed. “I can remember the toothaches I used to get when I couldn’t afford to go to the dentist. I used to tell myself ‘one day I will have a job with dental benefits’.”
Today, she has that job.