PEF News

PEF Spotlight: Maria Ramirez

PEF Spotlight: Maria Ramirez

November 17, 2020

Our first PEF Spotlight is on Maria Ramirez, who happens to be the newest employee at PEF, but is not new to PEF. Maria has participated in several PEF programs as a student.

In 2015, as a second semester junior at Red Bank High School, Maria attended PEF's Camp College at Sewanee: University of the South. At Camp College, students receive support with essay writing, college searches, and financial aid from college admissions officers from across the country. Here, she learned about the college admission process while getting a taste for campus life. Thanks to this program, she also made up her mind that she would call Sewanee her home after graduating from high school.

Maria also participated in Passport Scholars her sophomore year of high school, a program that provides opportunities for college-bound girls to travel and experience academic programs around the country. This experience allowed her to get a taste of independence and slowly come out of her comfort zone by meeting different people from across the country (she was extremely quiet in high school).  Maria’s experience at Earlham College in Indiana helped her decide to focus her career on water resources and the environment. She took Dr. Kalani’s class on water chemistry in Indiana and instantly knew that was what she wanted to study in college.

Maria has since earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environment and Sustainability from Sewanee with a concentration in water accessibility and environmental justice, and a double minor in Music and Spanish. Through her experience at Sewanee, she has connected with other bright peers with similar interests, and since graduating, has helped start a magazine, “Platform,” which aims to elevate BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) voices and experiences in relation to their “green roots.” She was involved in the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra, ADELANTE, Sewanee’s Green Fund, and among other student-led organizations that helped her mold her leadership skills.

As a College Advancement Mentor, she will help high school seniors navigate the college application process. She hopes to create strong bonds and inspire the students she works with while learning from those students as well. Maria also wants to make sure that each student feels comfortable talking to her about their college transition. After all, she was in their shoes not too long ago!

“Helping make a change and contribute to also making a positive impact in at least one person’s life is what keeps me going. Without PEF’s support and guidance, none of this would have happened. Also, I would not have been a first-generation college graduate from Sewanee.”

While Camp College will not be held on Sewanee’s campus this year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, PEF will be hosting several College Knowledge Virtual Sessions for students throughout the fall.

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