By her mid-20s, Samantha de Roque lived through major trauma, overcame disease, and conquered addiction. Determined to build a future and a career, she surpassed these obstacles and enrolled at SRJC to pursue the college education she had always dreamed of. In 2018, she achieved three degrees from SRJC and will become one of only 24 students admitted to the Sonoma State University nursing program in fall 2019.
As she wrote in an essay, “growing up, I never thought I would live past my 20th birthday. But now I am living proof that there is always a reason to keep trying.” Samantha dropped out of high school when she was 15, took her proficiency test, then started taking classes at SRJC, with the dream of working in a medical field. She was inspired to get an education by her mother, who went back to school after having children to get a history degree and become a teacher.
At the age of 21, while Samantha was working toward getting an education, she became the victim of an assault. She was stabbed eight times, suffered a collapsed lung and received serious damage to her right arm. Her life went into turmoil and many surgeries followed in order to restore function in her hand, which had extensive nerve damage. During those months of physical pain and traumatic stress, Samantha was inspired by the nurses who took care of her with a great deal of kindness. She decided then and there to follow their path and become a nurse herself.
When she returned to college, she was unable to write or type, due to the damage to her hand. The Disability Resources Department at SRJC guided her in using software and support devices to facilitate her studies.
And then, as her life seemed to be on the mend, tragedy struck again. At only 22, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As Samantha recalls, “I had no idea how to cope with the weight of my traumas. After surgery and radiation, the cancer was gone, and so was my peace of mind. I fell hard into addiction to cope with the severe PTSD flashbacks I experienced.”
Samantha gave up on her dreams of going to college and, as she says, spent six years “just barely existing. I no longer saw the point of living and often wished of dying.” But she decided to give herself one last chance. She entered rehab, started volunteering at a hospital, and found renewed purpose in caring for others who experienced similar things. In 2013 she returned to college, determined to get all the heavy load pre-requisite science classes for a career in nursing.
Samantha has spent the last few years working in the healthcare industry, for an ambulance company, then as a certified nursing assistant at a local nursing home. The JC became her second home and Doyle Library was her refuge for long semesters of team study for her science classes. She developed a support network of friends while learning the most difficult topics needed for her future career. As she says, “Santa Rosa Junior College gave me the confidence to believe in myself. The teachers, counselors, and disability resources department staff all helped me get where I am at today. If you need help, reach out. The JC cares. The instructors care. There is always hope, no matter how dark things seem.”
Samantha de Roque achieved three associate degrees with high honors – Natural Sciences, Pre-Allied Health, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. She proudly walked during SRJC’s 100th Graduation Ceremony and now says that her life is full of hope. Her dream is to offer compassionate quality care to oncology or hospice patients.