By: Tiffany King
January 30, 2018

Making Graduation a Reality and Helping Others the Goal

By Tiffany King

Ada Ramirez ’18 will finally be able to turn her parents’ dream into a reality this coming May at graduation.

“Graduation is a form of saying thank you to them,” Ramirez said. “They said, ‘We don’t care how much money you have. You can make as much money as you want. We’re not expecting you to pay us back for anything. All we want you to do is graduate, have a career for yourself. That’s the one gift we want.'”

Ramirez, 24 and a first-generation college student, moved to Brunswick from Mexico when she was 5 years old, following her father who came to the United States in pursuit of a better life for his family. Her parents often share the story of being so poor that they shared one egg between them as their meal.

“My father wanted so much more for us, so he decided to come over to the States. Once he was here for a month or two, he decided to bring his family over,” Ramirez said, calling it the best decision her father made as a parent. Her father had a cousin living in Brunswick, which is how they came to call the area home. “We’re very, very thankful that he made that decision. It has improved our lives.”

Her parents believe in hard work, a trait that was inevitably passed down to Ramirez and her three other siblings. Her parents work at King and Prince Seafood, where they’ve been employed since moving to Brunswick 19 years ago.

Ramirez is earning her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting. Like many students, her original plans for college changed as she moved through her studies. After graduating from Frederica Academy, Ramirez attended Southern Adventist University in Tennessee for one year as a biology-med student. She disliked her 8 a.m. biology class so much she reevaluated her career path and, after taking an accounting class, she fell in love with the career.

While in Tennessee, Ramirez got married and had a son named Asaph. Her family decided to move back to Georgia and believed the College of Coastal Georgia was the best place to finish her degree.

“We kept seeing that it was growing and it was really nice and small—like the other university I was in—and that’s what I liked about it,” she said.

Future plans

After she graduates in May, Ramirez plans to be an accountant for a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting orphaned or abandoned children, and wants to help meet their emotional needs.

She credits this passion to family-friend Ann Parker, a former English teacher at Glynn Academy. Parker helped Ramirez’ family adapt to the U.S. and always encouraged Ramirez and her siblings to do their best.

“She had a huge impact in my life. She became like a surrogate grandmother to me and my siblings. She was such a kind, loving, and caring person. She would take us swimming, we would spend the night at her house on the weekends. She would buy computer games that helped us with our spelling and grammar, and she did so much more for us,” Ramirez said.

Parker also encouraged Ramirez to apply for Frederica Academy, where she received a scholarship to attend the school.

“When she passed away, my parents were there to help me through it. I am grateful for her and my parents,” she said. “There are many kids who don’t have anyone in their lives. This is the main reason I want to work with nonprofit organizations that work with kids. She devoted so much time to us and always looked out for our well-being so selflessly. I want to share this experience with so many kids who are in need.”

Life at the College of Coastal Georgia

Ramirez is having a good experience at the College. She has found her professors very understanding and cooperative with her as she worked full-time job and raised a family.

“My professors have made it so that whether you’re a traditional or non-traditional student, when assignments are given out, it works for everybody. It’s something that I really love about this place,” Ramirez said. “You have these amazing classes that they offer at night and online, and they try to work with you as much as possible. I’ve been able to choose what works best for me depending on my schedule.”

Ramirez is also a student worker in the President’s Office. She started there in spring 2017 and has enjoyed her time working with administrative assistants Judy Johnston and Kendra Lloyd.

“That’s what I really like about Coastal; it offers a lot of student positions and they work with you so much when it comes to your school schedule,” Ramirez said. “They encourage me to always put my schoolwork first. That’s why I love it so much. Everyone makes sure that you do well and that you prosper.”

Ramirez helps with various tasks in the office, making the operations of the office run smooth. Working on projects has developed her creativity, given her a better understanding of computer programs, and improved her communication skills. Describing herself as a timid person, her position has pushed her out of her shell to engage more with people.

“It’s helped me tremendously,” she said. “I’ve definitely had a lot of growth in this office.”

Ramirez’s advice to her peers is, “Don’t stress out too much. Be calm. You will make it. Even if it takes you six years, and not the traditional four, you’re going to make it. You can still finish and do well in school. The time doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get it done.”

She’s someone who likes to have a five-year plan and when her own timeline became jumbled, she took a step back and refocused. She is happy she did.

“Through experience you improve and learn. What you consider to be disastrous will help you grow into a better person. It allows you to see things through different points of view,” she said. “When you stop giving yourself such a hard time you’ll be able to meet your goals, even if it takes time. There’s a reason behind everything. Never take any experience as bad; take it as a learning experience.”