“Growing up a self-professed “incredibly introverted child,” Regina Dove, 22, had to deal with a lot of social issues as a young person. “I guess Summer Search saw my potential for altruism,” she said, “but I didn’t even see it myself. I was very, very shy, and very hesitant to talk to people, or speak out in class, and that’s why I had low grades for a little while. I was pretty self-destructive, as far as missing opportunities all the time and not reaching out to people when I needed to, and I’d get depressed a lot.”
Regina’s mother is an immigrant from the Philippines, and her dad was raised in southern California. “I’m the second oldest out of four siblings,” she said, “and my parents worked really hard. But my mother never got past elementary school, so that was a lot of pressure for me. I was the first person in my family to go to college, even though I have an older brother. I went to an all-girls private high school – Holy Names Academy, in Seattle – with a lot of people from a different economic background than myself. I was actually doing work-study and working in the kitchens to help pay my tuition.”
Then Summer Search came along and offered her a three-week Outward Bound trip to the Cascade Mountains in Washington state. “After that trip, I felt super-confident,” she said. “I felt like I could do anything. Just having those experiences, being alone in the wilderness for so long, solo in an isolated space, and then also working with the group. At the end of the trip, I was crying so much because I thought I had failed, because I was definitely the weakest person on the trip. But my trip leaders helped me realize that I was a useful person, because of all the things I’d done for people. Like I was always the one who’d encourage other people to talk out their conflicts, and I was the only one to stay by this one girl’s side after she’d fallen down a steep ravine and gotten a concussion. That trip really brought me out of myself.”
Regina’s second trip was to attend summer school at Northfield Mount Hermon in Massachusetts for five weeks. “That trip brought me out of myself too,” she said, “because I learned to interact with so many different kinds of people. It was kind of like an international summer school, so there were people from everywhere. My roommate was from Greece, and we’re still really good friends today. That was just a really awesome social experience for me, and brought me more out of myself, and also showed me my academic possibilities. It got me really excited for college.”
But the most important part of Summer Search for Regina wasn’t the summer trips. “Mentoring was so crucial,” she said emphatically. “I don’t know how I would have been able to express myself or get out of my shell otherwise. My mentors at Summer Search encouraged me to reach out and become a more social person. I still talk to my mentors, I still talk to them, about anything.”
Since high school, Regina has volunteered with a preschool through AmeriCorps, and she’s worked with special education programs at Washington Middle School. Through college, she worked with the Children’s Literacy Project. “With me, it’s all about education and community outreach,” she said.
This year, Regina graduated from Seattle University, cum laude, with a 3.5 G.P.A., after double majoring in Spanish and anthropology. She’s planning to take a year off, to live with her grandparents in Los Angeles and prepare for grad school. “I’m going to study for the G.R.E., work on my writing samples, and look at grad schools,” she said. “Those are really my only plans for the year. I want to study anthropology somewhere, and then go on to get a PhD after that. Eventually, I’d like to be at a university, teaching, or doing field work in anthropology. I want to give back to others through my teaching. I think teaching is key. That, and advocating for students who come from marginalized populations. Because that’s what I could have used more of, myself, was teachers as advocates.”