International student athlete prepares for next chapter of her education

Laura Ruiz Astorga, left, participates in the UA Little Rock commencement ceremony on May 11. Photo by Ben Krain.

This spring, UA Little Rock Senior Laura Ruiz Astorga found herself facing the difficult choice of where to continue her education following her graduation in May. Fortunately for her, she had already been accepted to not one, but two of the top schools in her field, and this fall she will begin a master’s program at the London School of Economics.

Ruiz Astorga came to UA Little Rock from Madrid and was introduced to the world of international relations at a young age through her father, who works for the Spanish government.

While in high school in Spain, she was recruited by UA Little Rock’s swim team and soon began her freshman year of college in a city thousands of miles away from her home. Aside from being a student-athlete, Ruiz Astorga also chose to double major in international studies and psychology.

“At first, I wasn’t sure I was in the right major for me, but then I got here and made friends with some of my professors and things got much better afterwards,” Ruiz Astorga said, “Dr. Wiebelhaus-Brahm especially got me interested in international studies and taught in a really engaging way.”

As a student-athlete, Ruiz Astorga represented UA Little Rock with the same level of dedication that she put into her coursework. In February, she and three other swim team members set a new school record for the 200-yard freestyle relay.

“I really loved being a student-athlete, we have a really great athletic department here,” Ruiz Astorga said. “Everyone is very close to each other.  We were also friends with all the other teams, and it all felt like one big family. I like how this campus is small enough to where you really get to know everyone.”

Swim Team Member Laura Ruiz Astorga is honored during the Trojans final home meet of the season. Photo by Ben Krain.
Swim Team Member Laura Ruiz Astorga is honored during the Trojans final home meet of the season. Photo by Ben Krain.

Today, Ruiz Astorga is looking towards the future as she prepares to pursue a master’s degree in human rights at the London School of Economics. Although she’s excited to return to Europe, she’ll be forever thankful for her time at UA Little Rock and encourages all students to look into it for their own education and development.

“UA Little Rock may be small, but that’s anything but a bad thing. We have great professors who really care about your success,” Ruiz Astorga said, “I came from Madrid and had never even heard of Arkansas or Little Rock, but I had so much fun here. This state is beautiful, and I feel like I had a great academic experience overall.”

After completing her graduate program, Ruiz Astorga plans to devote herself to protecting human rights on an international level through work with nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations.

In the upper right photo, Laura Ruiz Astorga, left, participates in the UA Little Rock commencement ceremony on May 11. Photo by Ben Krain. 

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