Photographer: @Joecudjoe

Photographer: @Joecudjoe

Hello I'm Ori, Nigerian American lifestyle blogger and career consultant encouraging you to live boldly. Be original. 

Rebekah Ramirez | Graduate Student

Tell us about yourself

I was born and raised in San Diego, CA. I moved to Maryland with my parents in 2008. I used to be nonchalant about most things including school but when I moved to the east coast, I noticed a very different vibe in the air. The people I met were driven and cared about their grades in college, which motivated me to do better in my academics.

What influenced your educational and career goals?

My mom influenced my educational roots. My parents got divorced when I was 7 years old. My mom was left to decide how to improve her life, and she enrolled into college to get a degree. I watched her struggle and stay up all night doing homework.

Because of my moms experience, I was expected to go to college but I wasn't motivated. I went to community college for one year in San Diego but I didn’t care about my classes, so my GPA suffered. Looking back, I can see that I used to be an ignorant young person at the age of 18. My perspective on life was very narrow. When I moved out here, I registered for community college and noticed that people in this area are very motivated and competitive. My first semester at Montgomery College, I remember meeting a handsome guy in my history class. We spoke in class and when it was time for an exam, I assumed I would do better than him on it. He got an A, I got a B. In my pride I thought, “How dare he!” I was astonished that he actually cared about succeeding. So I stepped up my game, made it a goal to get on the Dean’s List, and transferred to University of Maryland. I’m happy to say I accomplished that goal.

There was a time when I wanted to drop out of school to “find myself.” To put it crassly, when I was in that phase, I was being an idiot. Thank God my parents stopped me from doing that. They guided, pushed, and challenged me. They didn't give me a choice. In my final year of college, my mom forced me to apply to graduate school, and I was really frustrated about it. I initially applied against my will, but when I got accepted, I was pleasantly surprised and thought, “They want me?” That completely changed my attitude, and I started to get really excited. I have a very close-knit family and my parents invested so much in me. I respect them and I can recognize that often times, God looked out for my future through them.

Here we are two years later, and I graduated. Through this academic journey, I’ve become a more ambitious person. I always want to learn more. Who knows, maybe I’ll get my PhD someday and take over the world. (Just kidding)

Would you recommend graduate school to others?

Yes, but only if you have a reason or specific goals. It's very important to know what you want to do. But some people attend grad school because they know it will get them a better job or a raise in their paycheck. I automatically get a little pay raise because of my master’s degree, so I’m not complaining!

If you’re passionate about your area of study, you should do it. It brings many opportunities to meet people from all walks of life and learn from them. Through grad school, I’ve had the opportunity to meet all kinds of educators and people who are  presidents of important educational programs. I traveled to Canada to give a presentation with a group of researchers and none of that would have happened if I had given up on school. There was no reason for me to take a break from school other than my own selfishness to have fun.

My biggest issue with grad school is the cost, how did you afford it?

Unfortunately, I have student loans. Lots of them. I worked part-time throughout school but it wasn’t nearly enough to pay for tuition. However, I recently did some calculations and figured out that if I budget correctly over the next three years, I can completely pay off my loans!! Praise God!!

What graduate program were you in?

I was in the Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership program. I have a Masters of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

What makes you original?

Young people tend to feel like they need other people to have fun, and I used to feel like that. I don’t know if my personality has changed or what, but I completely threw that out the window. I find stuff I wanna do, and I do it whether or not I have people to do it with. It's fun, enriching, and freeing. I get dressed up, go to concerts, and buy myself a drink. In March, I joined a roller derby league. I showed up to the open house by myself and was intimidated to be amidst a huge group of strong, outgoing women on skates. Anyway, I decided to stop waiting on others and to stop saving fun things (like derby) for “later”. That decision has brought me to the world of roller derby, new friends, and has taught me to be secure in myself. I'm a single 25-year-old and most of my friends are engaged, married, or having children. It saddens me to hear people say, “I want to [travel, join a team sport, learn a new skill, etc.], but I want to wait until I have a boyfriend/girlfriend cause it’ll be more fun.” I want to shake them by the shoulders and say, “Your life is right now! Go and make your own fun!”

Game of Fate Photography

Bernard Agyakwa | Pastor

Bilphena Yahwon | Poet

Bilphena Yahwon | Poet