Latinx Heritage Month Spotlight: Meet Arely Ramirez Caba


For Latinx Heritage Month and Hispanic Heritage Month, Women AdvaNCe interviewed Arely Ramirez Caba. Arely majored in political science at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) and has been active in her community.  She was a rising star finalist for Wilma’s 2021 Women to Watch awards; and, in 2022, Arely won the Distinguished Young Alumna of the Year award from UNCW.

Can you give us some background on your work and history?

I began my professional history through the help of my sister, Concha, and a sociology professor, Ms. Ferguson. In 2015, Ms. Ferguson assigned the class a community engagement project where we had to volunteer for a local organization. Around that time, Concha told me that her employer was looking for a bilingual front desk legal assistant. I asked if I could do some volunteer work while they found someone, and that ended up becoming a paid job. Working there taught me much about collaboration, interpersonal skills, and professionalism. Much of that involved me interpreting and interviewing clients, listening, and writing about their experiences.

Once I attended UNC for undergraduate school, I became engaged with multiple organizations. It allowed me to explore different interests and ideas. There were a few in particular that stood out.

I was part of Centro Hispano, UNCW’s Hispanic and Latinx cultural center. There, I served as an ambassador, where I was part of a group that would go to K-12 schools to let local Latinx students and their parents know about higher education and other local programs that could assist them in getting there.

I also was a part of the UN as a 2018 Winter Youth Assembly delegate, which I heard about through my friend Yara. We got to meet UN Officials, attend our conference and meet at headquarters in New York. That led us to apply and attend a funded opportunity to attend the UNA USA 2018 Leadership Summit as Youth Advocates in D.C., where we got to advocate for quality education and refugee and immigrant rights. I am so thankful for Yayra because she made me realize the opportunities we could take.

Another great opportunity I got to take on was a joint internship with the U.S. Senate and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus institute. The internship exposed me to different careers I did not know existed. It also exposed me to many high-achieving Latinos willing to talk to me about their trajectory. These networks signified more than just kindness but how much Latinx achievement is often underrepresented.

After graduation, I started work in a more prominent immigration law firm with the help of someone I knew, Olaf, who told me about the opening. This firm taught me a lot about navigating a career, leadership, working with diverse clientele, impacts of abuse, effective communication, accountability, and much more. I started as a legal assistant and became a Paralegal/Advocacy Liaison. Some of the work I did included drafting and assisting in filing documentation for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), General Deferred Action, Employment Authorization, and Requests for Additional Evidence cases.

The experience I have received as a paralegal has been extremely helpful in navigating my professional life, experience, and interests, but it also solidified my decision to pursue a Master of Public Administration instead of law school. As such, I am currently working on applying to programs.

How has culture and your community played a role in your success? 

While I think culture has impacted how I’ve navigated my life, I think my community has been what has propelled me forward. I grew up with two parents who stopped attending school after the 6th grade due to poverty and their remote location in Mexico. My parent’s educational background and our immigrant past impacted how I navigated my journey in education. I was fortunate to have had two amazing older sisters, Concha, and Reyna, who led the path before me and introduced me to the AVID program.

This program led me to the Wilmington Early College High School program, where I met the best school counselor, Ms. Tanya Jordan. She helped me through every step of the way, even when I did not see it as possible. She listened to me, considered my immigrant background, and advocated for me when I had not heard back from UNCW despite applying for early admission. She also helped me find scholarships to cover the costs of my education. I will always be thankful for her support.

The community I made through the Centro Hispano and UNCW have also helped connect me. I am grateful for the friends I have made and the support I have received.

Lastly, one of my biggest supporters has been my husband, Erick. He has often gone above and beyond to help me with whatever I take on. He would be the person to review my essays for the opportunities I took, review my presentations for my lectures, film me for an internship video essay, take headshots for me, and is helping me navigate my way to graduate school.  

How do you find time to center self-care with other responsibilities demanding your attention?

I am still working on some portions of it. Having a great support system helps, but I still have much to learn. I have recently taken my mental and physical health more seriously. 

What advice do you have for young people and women around your age who are looking to get into leadership roles?

Be intentional. Be intentional about the classes you take, the clubs you are part of, and the relationships you create. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I would love to share the following resources that I hope others will find helpful:


Fairley Lloyd (she/her) is a writer, editor, and bi-con. She writes about race, LGBTQIA+, mental health, and intersectionality.

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