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'California dreamin'

  • How social media led to a Los Angeles internship opportunity

    Saturday, January 16, 2021
    Masiel Ramirez

    Masiel Ramirez came up with an idea for a “Kodak moment” -- have keepsake pictures made with two older sisters, each sporting swag from their respective alma maters, to celebrate her December 2020 graduation from UMES. 

    “I know how my mom is with pictures,” Masiel, 21, said.  “She likes to hang all our accomplishments on the wall.” 

    On a quiet Sunday in mid-November -- ahead of what was supposed to be a small-gathering commencement ceremony for criminal justice majors -- Masiel (pronounced mah-SEE-elle) invited siblings Mabel, 24, and Madeline, 28, to come to Princess Anne for a discrete photo shoot. 

    Madeline proudly modeled her Hampton sweatshirt and Mabel donned her Coppin State counterpart.  Each sister wore coordinating jeans and stylish above-the-knee boots.  With help of a talented photographer, the trio posed for pictures at iconic venues around campus. 

    The result conjures comparisons to tasteful album cover images befitting Destiny's Child -- or for baby boomers, The Supremes. 

    “I was really excited to see how they turned out,” Masiel said.  “We heard from a lot of people.” 

    A surge in COVID-19 cases elsewhere in Maryland prior to Thanksgiving prompted a gubernatorial order to limit the size of gatherings and prevented UMES from holding in-person graduation exercises.  Nonetheless, the pandemic neither distracted nor deterred Masiel. 

    She earned her degree in 3½ years, graduating magna cum laude.  Circumstances, she said, forced her to better manage and allocate time devoted to academics, especially when it came to the pacing of taking online courses.

    Madeline, Masiel & Mabel Ramirez

    The Ramirez sisters, who trace their family roots to the Dominican Republic, were so pleased with the photos that Masiel shared the images on social media. 

    One Instagram post expressing pride in being a criminal justice major who just graduated caught the attention of a Los Angeles-area law firm that specializes in criminal defense cases. 

    The firm contacted Masiel and after some long-distance interviewing, offered her a post-graduate internship she's hoping might lead to a full time job.  She said she's been told she'll be doing the kind of research and fact-checking that defense attorneys need to prepare cases for clients. 

    The internship also offers her an opportunity to gauge whether a long-held interest in the field of crime scene investigation that influenced her decision to study criminal justice degree was the right one.  She also hasn't ruled out the possibility someday of applying to law school. 

    “I always wanted to go to an HBCU,” Masiel said.  UMES was “not too close to her (Hyattsville, Md.) home, but not too far away either” - and enabled her to follow in her sisters' footsteps.

    As an undergraduate, Masiel said she enjoyed being a member of the popular UMES Diamonds' dance team, and briefly served as a cheerleading squad manager.  She also was a member of the campus group, Women of Respect, Tact and Honor -- W.O.R.T.H. 

    “I met friends I'm going to have for life,” she said. 

    As for moving to the West Coast to start her post-graduation life, Masiel said, “I like to experience new things. I like to get outside my comfort zone.”