2020 Graduate, Bachelor of Arts in Organizational and Corporate Communication
Graciela Ramirez is nothing if not hard-working. And determined (and let's not forget, accomplished). The native El Pasoan has two jobs: one as a a financial coordinator at a private practice and the other as a Youth Care Specialist at a national migrant shelter for minors. She has held both positions for six and a half years and has over 12 years' experience in the financial field. Graciela is also a Registered Dental Assistant and has a Associate of Applied Science in Court and Conference Reporting (legal shorthand).
Life-changing events in 2018 got Graciela thinking about her long-term goals and brought her to UTEP Connect. She made a commitment to be in school full-time for five semesters and graduate with her bachelor’s degree exactly 20 years after graduating high school. Diligently working through a checklist that included paying back the money she owed to the university, being accepted into a program of her choice, and figuring out her financial options (the scariest part of the whole process), Graciela picked a degree plan, registered, and started classes in August 2018.
In May 2020, Graciela graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational and Corporate Communication. “My mom always said, ‘Hazlo ya, porque el tiempo pasa.’ (Do it now because time passes by). So, I went through the list, checked it twice and went for it,” says Graciela.
When she's not working or studying, Graciela enjoys good eats and spending time with her family and five four-legged babies.
Why she enrolled in the program:
I can complete this program after work and at my own pace from anywhere I am.
Her experience with online learning:
I took a few classes online in the past but not a full program. Blackboard has come a long way since I first used it. It has improved significantly. The online experience has been great. I was able to do courses at my own pace, and I was still able to interact with my professors and classmates. More than making more money, [finishing my degree] is about learning, community involvement, and being a professional in my field.
On her support system:
I had support from my family, especially my mom and my best friends. Working two jobs to pay for my basic needs and get through school wasn't easy. I missed out on family time, time with friends and time for myself. Financial support was my biggest need. My second job helped me pay for my school needs such as internet and books.
What she would say to prospective online students:
UTEP Connect is an excellent option if your schedule is busy. However, it takes commitment and planning. You have to do the work to be successful. People may undermine an online program or call it “easy,” but it’s far from easy. It still takes time to plan for it and follow through with it.
On whether she would enroll in this program again if she had to do things over:
I would definitely do this over again, and I would enroll in this program a billion times over. It has been 20 years since I graduated high school and I have been waiting for this moment since 2000. The more I waited, the more I wanted it. Now, being more seasoned with finances and at a different stage in my life, I’ve learned to value my time and reach for my goals and make them a reality. The time is now.