Despite her difficulties, Luisa Ramos talks about the inspiration that enabled her to return to college and find a dream career

One evening, Luisa Ramos said she had a conversation with her young daughter who casually asked her about her college experience. The question was simple enough, but it made a lasting impact on her future, Luisa said.

Although her husband had received his bachelor degree, Luisa said she struggled to find the correct response about her own education. Always eager to instill the importance of a college education in her daughter, Luisa said at that moment she had run out of excuses.

“When it came to me, I had no response, because I'd never gone back to school to finish my bachelor degree,” she said. “My daughter had a project at school one day and she asked me out of the blue because she's very big on college. She knows we are really trying to instill that in her.”

When she returned in 2015, Luisa believes that her experience with South Texas College was, in fact, a journey to success despite being out of school for more than 13 years.

Gaining experience in the real world was an eye-opening experience because she realized she was earning significantly less than those with degrees despite her work experience, she said.

“I worked for a school district in human resources, that field just seemed to really call out for me,” she said. “I had all the experience, but when it came to jobs that I was very interested in, I knew I needed to have a degree to move forward with that.”

It took more than two years, but Luisa said she succeeded and received her Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Leadership (BASOL) at South Texas College. While working for her degree, Luisa said she had the privilege to be a part of STC’s “Examples of Excelencia!” in 2017.

Excelencia in Education launched Examples of Excelencia in 2005 in an effort to bring together educators who were committed to Latino student success in order to reshape the national dialogue. Every year, Examples of Excelencia identifies four evidence-based programs across the country that increase academic opportunities and improve educational outcomes for Latino students in higher education.

STC was named among the top institutions in the nation for its BASOL program, and Luisa says her experience there gave her the confidence to apply for a dream job with a local school district.

Fast-forward more than one year later and Luisa says she is contemplating her master degree likely by January 2019.

“When you’re working in the real world you realize that you have all this experience, but sometimes you just need that degree,” she said. “It really is very necessary for you to have it, and so I feel like that was a big life lesson for me.”

South Texas College is one of three community colleges approved by the Texas Legislature to offer bachelor’s programs. STC offers four bachelor’s degrees including Technology Management, Computer and Information Technology, Medical and Health Services Management (MHSM), and Organizational Leadership.

Two of the programs, Organizational Leadership (BASOL) and Computer and Information Technology (CIT), are competency-based, giving students an opportunity to leverage prior learning experience in order to accelerate course completion through the program.

More competency-based programs are on the way. The college has already begun vying for a grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to convert its MHSM program into a competency-based degree.

“One month before I actually got my degree I saw a posting at IDEA Public Schools for an executive assistant and it required a bachelor degree. So I went ahead and applied, and I eventually got the job,” she said. “I felt very confident. I think that is what that program did for me. It gave me a lot of confidence to apply for the position, and I've actually been in that position for a year now.”