Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College
Without the efforts of Lupe Ramirez, many first-generation Latino students wouldn’t have overcome common barriers to achieve associate degrees, bachelor degrees and better-paying professional jobs in the workforce.
Western Nevada College’s Latino outreach coordinator was recently selected as the 2018 Nevada ACT College and Career Readiness Postsecondary Champion, which honors individuals who are making a positive impact on their communities through their efforts to advance college and career readiness.
“I am honored to be the recipient of this prestigious award. I never expected such a recognition,” Ramirez said. “I simply enjoy what I do, and I feel very proud of every student who goes through our program and accomplishes his or her academic goal. When I see them at commencement or in their profession, it puts a smile on my face.”
In 2010, WNC’s Latino Cohort Program was started to improve the college graduation rate for the underserved student population. The program provides students a smooth transition from high school to college by helping them overcome the fear factors of starting college underprepared as well as cultural obstacles. Whether students need remedial preparation in English or math, or help accessing the financial aid available to them, the cohort is there to support them. Students in the cohort take classes together and receive many levels of support beyond their professors, including prescriptive advising, supplemental instruction administered by cohort coaches and mentoring from other professors, leaders from the community and former cohort members.
Through her presentations at local high schools and churches, Ramirez has educated parents about the programs available to their sons and daughters close to home. She emphasizes the importance of the family’s commitment to enhance the possibility of attaining a college degree.
“Our goal is to create that bridge for students to go to UNR to finish their bachelor’s degree or complete Career and Technical Education programs like nursing, construction management or advanced manufacturing to enter the workforce with above entry level pay,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez knows exactly what many young Latino students face when considering going to college. She moved from Huejuquilla El Alto Jalisco, Mexico, to Northern California when she was a teenager. She needed to learn the English language first before she was able to participate in regular classes with her peers at Coleville High School, and as an adult, she pursued her dream of going to college. That decision ultimately led to a part-time position at WNC, where she continued furthering her education while juggling two jobs and taking care of her family responsibilities as a wife and mother. Her passion for higher education inspired her to complete her bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Western Governors University.
Ramirez became WNC’s full-time Latino outreach coordinator in July 2016 to support first-generation Latino students as they pursue rewarding and satisfying professional careers. Prior to that, Ramirez was part-time assistant to the dean and part-time Latino outreach coordinator.
Ramirez was also honored with the 2016 WNC Administrative Faculty of the Year award for her passion in promoting Jump Start College to underrepresented student populations in Carson, Douglas and Lyon county schools.