Five years ago, Edna Ramirez moved to Little Rock from El Dorado, Ark., to do what she had wanted to do for years: go to college.

“Many years ago when I started visiting Little Rock, I would drive by [the University of Arkansas at Little Rock], and I always thought it was the most beautiful school ever. And I always thought, this is where I am going to go,” Ramirez said. “Well, a lot of things in my life changed, and I didn’t get a chance to go to college.”

Ramirez’s story is a relatable one for many. Life occasionally takes over, and dreams have to go on hold.

Ramirez, 34, is a single mother of two children, 19 and 13. Prior to taking classes at UA Little Rock in 2011, she was a court Spanish interpreter for the Union County District Court in El Dorado for 14 years. It was there that she realized that there was a need for people with her talents in the criminal justice field.

Ramirez has since earned bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and sociology. She estimated that around 75 percent of her classes were taken online, and said that taking online classes allowed her the flexibility in her schedule she needed. Ramirez worked full time and would often commute to El Dorado to see her children while she was in college.

“To me, it was the hardest thing because I had to commute…throughout the week to make sure I was seeing the kids, and I was also going to school. So, registering for online classes made it a lot easier. Because once again, I didn’t have to be on campus. Anything that went on with my kids during the day, I was able to just go and take care of that without having to miss class,” she said.

Ramirez now works as a limited-English-proficiency victim advocate for The Center for Healing Hearts and Spirits at the Women’s Council on African-American Affairs – a nonprofit organization that provides services to victims of violent crimes.

She utilizes her criminal justice degree in her work, because she often goes to court with victims, files police reports and orders of protection on their behalf, provides them with shelter services and other legal assistance, and stays in contact with their prosecuting attorneys.

Ramirez said she would like to become a bilingual immigration attorney someday, and she’s currently working to make that dream a reality—she has aspirations to go to the William H. Bowen School of Law.

“I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it,” she said.

Advice for online students

Ramirez said that anyone considering taking online classes should “go for it.”

“[Online classes are] going to give you that flexibility to be able to a hold a full-time job that might help you pay for those classes. There’s not going to be a lot of fees involved when you go online,” she said, in reference to the fact that UA Little Rock Online students don’t pay for amenity fees such as parking or fitness center access.

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