For Ronika Allen, college was always an expectation. One she set for herself.
“You have to know what you want to do with your life. That’s important to remember,” she says.
She didn’t exactly know what she wanted to study, but she knew she wanted to do something that would help her give back.
“Right after I graduated high school, I took the leap into college. I didn’t have the luxury of time to figure it all out first.”
As a teen who had just aged out of the foster-care system, Ronika found herself on her own in a way like she had never experienced.
“It was a hard thing to go through. I just did everything on my own. I knew it wasn’t going to happen unless I decided to do it on my own. You have to be your own strongest advocate,” she says. “I got my own apartment. I got a job. I had to support myself, but I knew I was ready for something more.”
Over the next few years, Ronika worked nearly 40 hours a week at HEB while taking classes at ACC. In January 2017, something clicked.
“I always felt that I should get into something that helped me help others. I faced a lot of struggles in my life. I had support. I had help. It’s my turn to give back.”
She enrolled in Criminal Justice courses and will graduate in December with her associate degree.
Ronika is among the hundreds of ACC students who will be honored at the college’s fall commencement ceremony Friday, December 14, at the Frank Erwin Center (1701 Red River St.). This fall, a record number of ACC students applied for graduation.
“It’s a moment to celebrate. I had a lot of people in my corner help me reach this milestone. Now, I’m ready for the next chapter.”
In spring, Ronika will enroll at Texas State University where she will continue her studies to earn a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.
“I’m still figuring out exactly where I’ll be when I’m done, but I know it will be serving our community. I want to help with probation and corrections to show others that they have the power to shape a better future for themselves, no matter what their past may have been.”