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by Stewart Prest, submitted 2012

She always wanted to be a lawyer. “Ever since primary school, my education was very goal-oriented,” says Ramona Robins from Medicine Hat, where she serves as Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Government of Alberta. “My intention was to go to law school.”

In fact, Ramona came to the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus – then referred to as Camrose Lutheran College, or CLC – partly because she thought it would get her into law school more quickly. “That ended up being a bit of a mistake,” she says with a laugh.

Indeed, her studies at Augustana seemed to steer her away from her dream. Awarded her Bachelor of Arts in political science, she was unsure whether she still wanted to pursue law. And yet, Ramona insists it was the best thing that could have happened to her, crediting the perspective that she gained with making her a better lawyer today.

 “It changed my mindset,” she says. “It made me want to take some time off both to learn about myself and to see what was out there in the world. I always knew that I would continue my education, and that I had developed a sound basis for a career, but I wasn’t sure what it would be. I looked at journalism, at teaching... I had my eyes opened to other possibilities.” Eventually she did decide to follow her earlier plan, and enrolled in law school in 1995. Today, she’s responsible for overseeing all criminal prosecutions in the Medicine Hat area.

Her experience at Augustana changed her life in other ways as well. She decided to work in Medicine Hat rather than plan a career in Edmonton or Calgary. “I wanted to work somewhere smaller, where I could be part of community, and not just one lawyer among hundreds or thousands, as you are in larger centres. I wanted to make an impact on that community in some way.

“People assume that you come to smaller centres because your marks weren’t good enough,” says Ramona. “The first time you take the road less travelled, if the experience ends in disaster, you will just take the safe route after that. But I did it the first time in coming to Camrose, and it worked out so well that I’ve done it ever since. It’s really made my life more fulfilling.”