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William Tanner

As the end of the semester draws to a close, one student can’t wait to graduate. For her, the Associate of Science in Interior Design has been 25 years in the making. Before getting her degree, Nancy Tatarka, 65, was elected to city council of San Ramon in 1999, became the mayor in 2001 and started a historic renovation for Christ Church in Berkeley.

But Tatarka always had one goal: to get a degree. She wanted to show that it doesn’t matter what your age is, learning is always the achievable goal. And she is a great example for others, pulling a 4.0 GPA while expanding the boundaries of her knowledge.

Tatarka became the mayor of San Ramon in 2001 with the main goal of putting a library in her community. Being the mayor was a huge learning experience for Tatarka. Her previous experience on city council helped her get settled in, but there was a lot to learn about the political system. Though Tatarka enjoyed her time working with the city, something was missing.

“It was a part of my life that I could have continued, and decided instead that there was so much more to learn,” Tatarka said. “I wanted to do things that I had a passion for. My passion wasn’t politics, My passion was design.”

Tatarka started up at Las Positas and immediately threw herself into her studies. She knew that it would be tough, having attempted to achieve her dream at Diablo Valley College 25 years ago, but she was committed to pursuing her degree.

One of her biggest supporters was her English 1A professor Maureen O’Herin. She remembers Tatarka as a student who would bring that element of inquisitivity to the discussions that helped students delve deeper into each assignment.

“I think she truly personifies the lifelong learner that a community college education serves so well,” O’Herin said. “Nancy brought the wisdom of her life experiences to my online English 1A class, which enriched the class discussion boards and the paper reviews.”

Tatarka would visit O’Herin during office hours to discuss ideas outside of the discussion boards on what they were learning in the books. And O’Herin played a pivotal role for Tatarka in a time of need.

In January of 2012, Tatarka faced one of her biggest challenges.On January 1, her father died, closely followed by her best friend on January 4 and by her sister on January 16.

Tatarka had brought her sister out to the LPC campus and she told Tatarka that she should keep pursuing her education. With the support of her family and professors including O’Herin, Tatarka continued to attend classes. Even though it would have been easy not to continue, she never lost sight of the ultimate goal.

Tatarka even found time to help others, donating her time to Special Spaces to help make personalized rooms for children with critical illnesses. It was here that she met other LPC interior design graduates and her passion really shone.

In addition, Tatarka has also spent the last three years working with Christ Church doing a historical renovation. The crew she worked with was happy to see that she was going to school while working on the renovation and encouraged her to pursue her dreams.

With graduation on the horizon, she is ready to continue to keep learning. Now that she is ready to receive her degree, Tatarka plans to keep learning as much as she possibly can to further knowledge of interior design.

“What I will never stop doing is learning,” Tatarka said. “Reading, learning studying, researching, I will always do it. Always.

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