Frequent Faces: Barista finds lifelong inspiration from parents

Before her work shift at Einstein Bros Bagels in Mass Media, Regina Thomas wakes up at 3 a.m. to prepare her daughters breakfast. After work she enjoys Zumba class and Bingo. Thomas is also the chairman for Bowling Green chapter of Simply United Together. 

Jacob Parker

Regina Thomas, coffee barista at Einstein Bros. Bagels, is not only a mother of two daughters but also a mother figure to many other young adults.

“My kids — they set the moon and stars. That’s my heart right there,” she said. “I’d hurt somebody over my kids. That’s all I have. That’s why I keep a house full of kids — not just mine.”

Having been a Girl Scout leader for 15 years, Thomas said the majority of the kids in Bowling Green know who she is.

“I’m still ‘Mama Gina,’ ‘Mama Nicki,’ ‘Mama ReRe,’” she said. “I’m like that with a lot of people here on campus, too.”

Thomas believes her relationship with her own parents is what shaped her into the mother that she is today.

Thomas grew up the oldest of three, dividing her time between her father in Detroit and her mother in Glasgow.

“That’s why nobody can understand my accent,” she said.

A self-proclaimed “daddy’s girl,” she recalled times spent looking across the river to Canada, throwing rocks and discussing different jazz artists.

“My dad was the laid back kind. My mom was outgoing and you knew she was there, and that’s me,” she said. “I’ve got both of them in me strongly.”

Her mother, a licensed practical nurse, and her father, in the Air Force, were the source of Thomas’ work ethic, while several other family members in the medical field inspired her choice of a career.

“My whole family is medical, so that’s all I know really,” she said.

Thomas graduated with honors from Owensboro Junior College of Business, now Daymar College, in 2000 with a degree in medical billing diagnosis and coding, and another in pharmacy technology.

When Thomas went to take her state boards in 2008, a personal tragedy put the test on hold. After a week of life support, Thomas decided to let her father go.

“He took his last breath, and that tear hit me on my cheek. I laid on his arms until then,” she said. “It was an experience I still live as of today.”

Two years later, when Thomas went to take her boards again, her mother passed away.

“I don’t look at Father’s Day and Mother’s Day the same,” she said. “Mother’s Day was the last day I spent with my mom.”

For Thomas, there’s a large part of each year that is particularly hard to deal with.

“They’re my angels, so whenever I get to the point where I literally feel like my world is crumbling down, their pictures are hanging up in my room,” she said. “When I get to those points, that’s when I go and listen to my music — that’s my escape.”

After losing other family members during those years, Thomas decided she needed to hold off on taking her boards again.

“It kind of made me sit everything on the back-burner to get my mind right,” she said.

In the meantime, Thomas has worked to support her family and considers herself the brick wall, striving to never break.

“With me being the oldest, I’m the backbone. Everybody looks to me,” she said. “I don’t break down in front of nobody, and it’s hard. I’ve got too many people depending on me.”

However, after the first of the year, Thomas has plans to get back into the medical field.

“I’m going to take my state boards, because I know that’s something that my dad would want for sure,” she said.