On the first floor of Dickinson Hall at UA Little Rock, Kristen Peterson sits in her office organizing a color-coded Google calendar that looks like a large puzzle. Peterson, a 21-year-old student in the online Learning Systems and Technology Education (LSTE) master’s program manages a busy schedule.

She works as a graduate assistant in UA Little Rock’s eLearning department, as a caretaker at Baptist Medical Center; and also volunteers with multiple schools and non-profits in Little Rock. Peterson’s hard work is motivated by her ultimate goal: to join the FBI.

“I’m passionate about helping find missing and exploited children and human trafficking victims,” she says. “This is why my goal is to secure a position with the FBI and work on the human trafficking task force. I’ve always felt drawn and compelled to help these people,” she adds.

With this goal in mind, Peterson joined UA Little Rock in the fall of 2014 as an online Criminal Justice major and had to adjust to life as a young college student.

“I graduated from North Little Rock West Campus when I was just 16,” she says, beaming with pride. “So, being an undergraduate student was different from high school. [In high school] we didn’t have many electronics…coming here and being fully online was a challenge; I had to learn time management and dedication,” she adds with a smile.

Her persistence paid off. She graduated in May 2018 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in criminal justice and applied communication.

“Communication was something I picked up in my last semester because I had all the required courses and I only needed nine hours,” Peterson explains. “And I think having effective communication skills is just a great thing for anyone to have,” she adds.

Peterson credits the online school’s convenience for her success, because it suited her learning style. She says that if her master’s program was not available online, she would have either waited longer to return to graduate school or chosen a different program altogether.

“I don’t learn in big settings, around multiple people,” she says. “I have to shut myself in a room with no sound. So, being able to do that in the comfort of my own home and whenever I want to do it on my time…it’s just the best thing,” she adds.

Peterson spends the little extra time she has volunteering with Partners Against Human Trafficking (PATH), and tutoring at several elementary schools.

“Because of being in the online program, I’m able to multi-task more; intern and volunteer in different places all while still going to school,” she says. “So, I get the experience and education at the same time. All this will greatly contribute to my goal to eventually join the FBI,” she adds, with a tone of confidence and optimism.

Advice for Students

“Time management is extremely important, and so is being very organized with your work. And just staying in touch with your professors helps you always know what’s going on.”

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