Lina and Regino have been married for 61 years. (“61 already?” Lina asks.) The childhood playmates were married at 16 and 17 in Tahoka, Texas, a small agricultural town near Lubbock. “People got married young in those days,” Lina says. “We were in love. We wanted to have kids; we didn’t think about how we would take care of them.”
Now they have 7 children, 18 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren—a dynasty that began in an era where segregation limited educational and economic opportunities. “My dad didn’t see the point in education if you couldn’t get good jobs,” says Lina. “Not everyone had the opportunity to work because people wouldn’t hire blacks and Mexicans.”
When there was opportunity to work, children like Regino and Lina often pitched in. Regino left school in third grade, while Lina attended school after crop-picking until she fell too far behind in seventh grade. Their limited education shaped their future: they became migrant workers at a young age, dependent on farmers and seasons.
These disadvantages only pushed Lina’s thirst for education, culminating in General Education Development (GED) and computer classes in the Denver Harbor Multi-Service Center’s computer lab. “I always wanted to be educated, because I didn’t get to finish.”
Regino and Lina are both taking control of their education through computers. Lina says, “Everything is computerized, and we both saw a chance here for the seniors.” They take GED and computer basics together; Lina received her GED at the age of 41, but returned to improve her spelling and support Regino, while he learns computers at her side. At home, they take turns cooking and cleaning so the other can study. “I help him with computers, he helps me with spelling,” Lina says. Regino adds, “If I have her here, I do okay.”
Combining their classes has been rewarding. “For me, it’s a dream come true,” says Lina. When they started, “I didn’t know what software was or what it did,” Lina says. Now, she’s helped Regino fix his computer when it crashed. She enjoys the efficiency of emailing lessons and of online resources for math and spelling. Regino adds, “I want to know what I’m doing.”
The couple is a constant feature in the computer lab. “With computers, you can learn anything you want to,” Lina says. “We’ve learned a lot here, more than I’m telling you. [Technology For All Program Specialist] Chris is a very good teacher.” The couple can pay bills online, create professional documents and name computer components. “They give so much help, and so many people need it.”
The public computer lab is located on the second floor of the Denver Harbor Multi-Service Center in Houston’s Denver Harbor community. It offers a variety of classes and open use sessions. For more information, please contact the center at (713) 670-2143 or visit at 6402 Market St.
Source: Technology For All