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The cover of the spring/summer 2004 Issue of SFSU Magazine

 

SFSU Magazine Online, Spring/Summer  2004, Volume 4, Number 1.

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  Alumni & FriendsBeaming alumna Regina Louise.

 


Beating the Odds

Regina Louise is a success by any measure. The SFSU alumna is a published author, the owner of two popular East Bay salons, and a frequent speaker on issues concerning foster care. But her success didn't come easy.

Louise spent her childhood bouncing from one foster or group home to the next -- more than three dozen in all -- until the age of 19 when she was released from the foster care system and "dropped into the lap of world."

Determined to succeed in life, Louise applied to State with plans to get her degree in social work. When she checked into Mary Ward residence hall carrying a garbage bag full of her possessions, Louise stood in disbelief as parents unloaded their precious cargo and "handed out credit cards."

Although she felt disconnected from college life, she continued to act "as if," -- as if she belonged, as if she knew what she were doing. She told herself, "Figure it out, honey, or things will gobble you up."

Louise eventually learned to trust in her abilities and take care of herself. She found inspiration in Angela Davis, who was a lecturer at SFSU. For Louise, being at SFSU was less about preparing for a career and more about finding her footing in the adult world. "College was my home," she says.

When Louise left SFSU in 1987, she no longer wanted to be a social worker; it was too close to home. She made entirely different plans.

Louise went to beauty school part time while working on-call at a suicide prevention line. "I don't mean to make light of it," she says, "but I would de-escalate one person while someone else was under the drier."
The cover of Regina Louise’s new memoir featuring a little girl holding an umbrella.
Last year, the in-demand hair stylist published "Somebody's Someone" (Warner Books, 2003), the first book in a two-part memoir. She also became a daughter.

In 1975, Louise befriended a social worker named Jeannie Kerr. After getting to know the bright young girl with the sparkling personality, Kerr tried to become Louise's foster mother but was turned down by the courts because she is white and Louise is black. The two lost touch. After 25 years of separation, the publication of Louise's book led to their reunion. At the age of 40, she was officially adopted by Kerr.

Now Louise lives with her son, 17, and her partner in Walnut Creek, a block away from her mom. "I am here because I believe in love," she says. "I refuse to be defeated."

 

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