Amanda Crawford is a testament to the power of perseverance.
After nine years of schooling, she’s finally achieved all she set out to — for now.
This past August, Crawford earned a canon law degree from the University of St. Paul in Ottawa, Canada. This degree is the reason she’s been a student for nearly a decade.
Crawford was initially inspired to pursue a canon law degree back in 2014, when she was hired as the temporary secretary of the tribunal at the Diocese of Little Rock in Arkansas. Shortly after, she went on maternity leave with her youngest child. Upon her return to work, she fell deeply in love with her job and wanted to earn a canon law degree.
To even get into canon law school, though, you have to have some sort of theological education. And Crawford didn’t.
She had wanted to attend Newman University after graduating from high school, but she got married and started a family instead. With her husband being in the U.S. Air Force and deploying often, she was busy with the couple’s three kids. An education fell even further from the top of her mind.
Eventually, Crawford decided to just go for it. She went through the Little Rock Theology Institute to get her bachelor’s degree in theology — a program that was initially hosted by St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. When they closed the program, Newman took it over.
Crawford received her bachelor’s degree in 2018 followed by a year of Newman’s theology graduate program. Then, she was accepted into the University of St. Paul’s four-year program for canon law school. Because it’s an online program, she didn’t have to sacrifice family time.
As a canon lawyer, Crawford continues to work in the Diocese of Little Rock’s tribunal office, which serves as the judicial branch of Bishop Anthony B. Taylor’s governance of the diocese and oversees the status of marriages in the church to determine if people are able to remarry.
Crawford’s favorite part of her work is helping people come back into the church.
“To be able to tell someone, ‘I can help you. Let me do some research. Let me make some calls’ … knowing I can now help them even more, that’s the best part,” she said.
What she’s most proud of, though, is that she got through the past decade of achieving her educational and career goals, all while maintaining wonderful relationships with her three boys and not missing any of their school or sports events.
Crawford recalled that the first day of her bachelor’s degree program at Newman was her son’s first birthday. This past month, he turned 9.
There were many days when she wasn’t sure why she was even pursuing a canon law degree, as it took a lot of work, time and late nights to get there.
But she persevered.
“It’s the fact that I did it. I got it done,” she said.
She might not be done yet, though. Crawford said she’s now considering a doctorate degree so that if she ever decides to teach canon law, she can.
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