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.
Learn about PEF's newest employee, who has participated in many PEF programs as a student. 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!
The Benwood Foundation has established a scholarship program to commemorate its 75th anniversary and will award $300,000 in scholarships to a group of Hamilton County students over the next 4 years. Benwood will partner with Public Education Foundation and Hamilton County Schools to support as many as fifteen high school seniors through their college journey. Benwood will annually award last dollar scholarships of up to $5,000 per student to cover unmet college costs as well as provide summer internships and other travel and enrichment experiences to ensure these “Benwood Scholars” succeed at every stage of their collegiate journey. WDEF News 12 spoke with several recipients.
Surely Stacy Goodwin Lightfoot’s leadership at an education nonprofit won her the invitation in 2015 to testify before a U.S. Senate committee. The hearing, after all, focused on the information students need about college options and, since graduating from DePauw in 1999, Lightfoot had spent her career guiding low-income and first-generation students to succeed in higher education. --The DePauw Boulder, June 22, 2020