Regina Walker, pictured with her three children, overcame several obstacles to graduate from Victoria College’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program.
Being a mother of three, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and commuting three hours roundtrip to attend Victoria College’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program almost got the best of Regina Walker.
At one point during her classes in the two-year program, Walker asked herself if she had made the right decision. She met with Laura Crandall, the PTA Program Chair, to discuss the possibility of dropping out.
“Finances started getting really tight,” said Walker, who lives in the Gonzales County community of Leesville.
Walker, 27, pressed on and received her Associate of Applied Science degree from VC’s PTA Program on May 8, something she wouldn’t have dreamed possible just four years ago.
Soon after getting her high school diploma at the age of 16, Walker found herself spiraling into chemical substance abuse.
“I was kind of a trouble kid,” Walker said. “I kind of just didn’t do anything with my life. I went down a lost path for a long time.”
It wasn’t until about four years later after she became pregnant with her first child when Walker turned her life around.
“I got clean, and I straightened out my lifestyle,” Walker said. “I decided I needed to do something with my life.”
Walker enrolled in classes at Victoria College’s Gonzales Center with the intent all along to gain acceptance into VC’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program.
“My mother has been a PTA for 37 years,” Walker said. “I would go to work with my mom some days and just hang out. I was around physical therapy a lot when I was younger, and I just wanted to do that.”
Walker, who was pregnant with her second child at the time, still had her apprehensions about taking college-level classes.
“I just didn’t feel like I was smart enough,” Walker said. “I had to take a remedial math class. I also took a psychology class and Math I that semester. I made A’s in both classes. Everyone at VC’s Gonzales Center was so helpful. My confidence really grew, and I started believing I could do this. There never again was a day when I didn’t feel ready to go to school. I never woke up and thought, ‘I don’t want to go to class today.’ ”
Walker completed her prerequisites in 2018 and applied for VC’s PTA Program.
“I wasn’t accepted, but it was OK because I had just had my third child at the time,” Walker said. “I just knew it wasn’t God’s timing.”
Walker applied again and was out of town when her mother, Charlene Cockcroft, called her to inform her that she had received a letter from VC.
“I was thinking I was going to be heartbroken again,” Walker said. “She asked if she could open it. I said, ‘No, Mom. I’ll do it when I get home.’ She opened it anyway and called me about an hour later to tell me I had been accepted. I just bawled tears of joy.”
Walker also recalls a time during her two years in the PTA Program when the pressures of motherhood, commuting 90 minutes back and forth to class from her home in Leesville, and coping with the COVID-19 pandemic had her and her three children – daughters Ainsley, 6, and Avery, 4, and son, Kanyon, 3 - in tears.
“Because of COVID-19, I was having to teach my children’s school at home,” Walker said. “I would be gone all day at school, get home and do all things a mother has to do, then try to get some studying in. Most nights none of us would get to bed until 10:30 p.m. I was tired. The children were tired. There were many nights we were all crying.”
Walker persevered and excelled enough academically to be inducted into the Victoria College’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
“The PTA Program is definitely an amazing program,” Walker said. “It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it was also the most rewarding. If you would have told me six years ago that I would be graduating as a PTA, I would have laughed in your face.”
Walker, who received the Most Inspirational Award at the PTA Program’s Pinning Ceremony on May 7, will continue her education at the University of Houston-Victoria to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“It’s going to be great to walk across that stage with all the trials and tribulations I have faced behind me while I’m walking towards a new future for myself and my family. Every day I thank God, my children, my fiancé, my mother and my family members who helped me with my children and who have stood behind me in this journey. I want to be able to use my testimony to help others know that it’s never too late.”