Grad earns social work degree more than a decade after leaving UA Little Rock

Conique Howard

Conique Howard first attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2002. After three semesters, she left to work full time to support her family.

More than a decade later, Howard returned to UA Little Rock to finish her dream of earning a college degree.

“I decided to come back to school, because I know I want better for me and my children,” she said. “I knew I was going to get a degree to make myself more competitive within the job market.”

Since spring 2014, Howard has been taking classes, working full time as a fiscal support specialist for the Arkansas Department of Rehab Services as well as taking care of her two daughters, 10-year-old Saraya and 5-year-old Rondalyn, and being a caregiver for her mother, Joyce. For the past year, she also spent her weekends completing an internship at Youth Home, Inc. in Little Rock.

Howard has struggled at times to afford her tuition and fees while also supporting a young child with a medical condition.

“My oldest child is extremely asthmatic,” Howard said. “Trying to pay for medicine and inhalers is a lot. Everything extra that I have I dedicate that to her, because her life is on the line. If it comes down to the tuition bill or paying her medical bills, she is the priority.”

Through her struggles, Howard is set to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in social work with a 3.5 grade point average.

Resilience is the word Howard uses to describe how she handled the obstacles and challenges she faced while continuing her education.

“I say this because I’ve been able to recover quickly from tough times and difficulties in a remarkable way,” she said. “What has been meant to be bad, God has turned around for my good.”

After graduation, Howard plans to complete a master’s degree in gerontology. One day she hopes to give back by working with disabled and homeless veterans and in hospice care. She gives credit to God for helping her have the faith to earn her degree.

“It is because of my faith in Him that I was given the strength and courage to complete my education,” she said. “I was determined to persevere no matter what.”

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