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Student Pathway 4

Associate's Degree to Doctoral Program in Community Psychology


Portrait of Stephanie Ramos

When Stephanie Ramos (AA '18); University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (BA) took AP psychology in high school, something sparked inside of her.

“I only knew about the subject in a broad sense at the time, but I was really intrigued by it,” she says.

Growing up in the South Chicago suburbs in a predominantly Mexican and Black neighborhood, Ramos was a strong student but at a loss about how to apply to college.

“I didn’t have any guidance,” she says. “My parents were first generation who immigrated when they were teenagers.”

Then Isabel Reyes, an Arrupe admission counselor, gave a talk at her high school. Ramos saw the admission process was doable, and her college future started to become a reality.

After driving herself to campus for a tour, she decided to apply. The oldest of four, she says the financial aspect and the welcoming community were the deciding factors.

“The support system was set in place,” says Ramos, who was part of Arrupe’s second graduating class. “In addition, they provided breakfast and lunch, which was a big help because I didn’t have to worry about eating before school.”

“Arrupe has networked me with great people.”


Although Ramos had a 3.2 GPA, she doubted she could get into a four-year university. But that started to change as she spoke with Julie Garcia, the College Placement Director.

“I remember having conversations with her and she would tell me I could get into top ten schools, and it sounded crazy to me. But she pushed for me to apply—she believed in me.”

Ramos, who lived at her parent’s house while attending Arrupe and worked at a bakery after class, applied to University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She was accepted and went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in psychology.

She reflects on how pivotal those early conversations were.

“I ask myself now, where would I be if she hadn’t nudged me to try? Arrupe really does care about their students and getting them to thrive in education or a job. It has networked me with great people.”


Ramos took her love of psychology one step further and is now enrolled in a hybrid two-year master’s, three-year doctorate Community Psychology program at the University of Illinois Chicago. Fully funded as a doctoratoral student, her tuition is paid for because she conducts research for the university. Eventually, she thinks she’d like to work in administration for higher education.

Her younger brother is now at Arrupe, and she encourages him to be open to all possibilities.

“I tell him, ‘You just never know what conversation or advice can get you really far.’”