Maria Luna-Ramirez, Opportunity Scholar at Delaware State University (Photo by: Maria Luna Ramirez)
Delaware State University is in the historical capital of Dover where many of its diverse students reside from all over the country. Maria Luna-Ramirez came to Delaware State University as a transfer student from Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Luna-Ramirez is currently an accounting major while minoring in finance and banking. She is a senior planning to graduate next spring. She is also a Student Assistant at The Garage, and a Supplemental Instruction Leader for the Integrated Academic Support Services on campus, and President of the new MIAS Club. She is also a Dreamer and DACA recipient of Mexican descent and Opportunity Scholar of TheDream.US attending Delaware State University on a full-ride scholarship. Moving from Iowa was a big adjustment, and I got the chance to talk to Ms. Luna -Ramirez about it and asked about other important events and aspects of her life.
Q: Can we meet the woman behind the face? Where were you born and what was your upbringing like?
A: I was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. I grew up in Iowa. I lived a very sheltered life while I was living in Iowa. Growing up in Iowa was a bit slow, not as fast-paced as the other places. I didn’t realize how privileged I was until I left Iowa in terms of education and resources. In Delaware, there are not that many options, but I’m glad I have my scholarship.
Q: Who has been the greatest influence in your life that has impacted the woman you are today?
A: My greatest influence in my life is definitely my mom because she is very humble, smart, and driven and motivated despite all the obstacles that she’s had. Even to this day, she’s older and she still wants to learn and do new things, and she’s grown a lot within the past few years, which is really admirable because at a certain age as an adult we kinda stop growing as individuals.
I appreciate the fact that she’s older and realizes she still has some growing up to do. She’s dealing with overcoming a lot of trauma that she hadn’t dealt with in the past which is difficult to do when you’re part of a generation while being an immigrant parent in a culture where we don’t talk about ourselves, or our emotions, and mental health is not taken seriously.
Here is a clip of Maria Luna-Ramirez talking about her mom.
Q: Can you tell us of your education history and what your goals or life ambitions as a student in college?
A: My goals as a student have drastically changed. When I started community college, I just wanted a degree, and that was pretty much it. I didn’t think about what I wanted to do with my life when it came with education, but when I came to Delaware State, and I had more time because when I was at community college I was working full-time and taking care of my family, I didn’t have to work 40 hours a week and my family isn’t here with me, and I have more time to do other things. I started thinking to myself “I need to have a career.” I became more focused. I have more time to work on myself. I have more time to grow academically, professionally, and individually.
Q: Can you tell us of your job experience prior to what you’re doing now?
A: I have experience as a Supplemental Instruction Leader in the Integrated Academic Support services which is the department at school that does all the tutoring, writing, and QRC. A Supplemental Leader is like a glorified tutor. You have to make sure you teach the student the material, and how they can learn it on their own because you can’t always be there. You have to navigate the course. The department tries to do this holistic approach by not just teaching you the material, but letting the students figure it out on their own while being more personal with them.
I also have experience at The Garage at DSU. For The Garage, it’s a lot of event planning. It’s a lot of sending emails, creating flyers, making sure everything is set up for the event, and also participating in the event. I’ve had to lead panels online and in person.
Q: What was the most memorable point of that job?
A: I recently lead the panel for the Women’s Entrepreneur Week, which was highlighting women in the entrepreneur field. It was a networking event. There were three main entrepreneurial speakers, Jada Robinson, Nicole Homer, and Dr. Devona Williams, and we did Fireside Chats where we spoke with the students.
(Left to right) Maria Luna-Ramirez, entrepreneur Jada Robinson, and fellow student panel leader, Melanie Jimmerson at Women’s Entrepreneur Week at Delaware State University. (Photo by: Carlos Holmes)
Q: Is this where you thought you’d be five years ago or so?
A: Five years ago, I would’ve never thought I’d be at Del State. I didn’t even think about Delaware. I don’t think I even knew what an HBCU was five years ago. I never thought of going out-of-state. I thought I was gonna stay in Iowa and go to the University of Iowa, so I never imagined coming here. Also, the experiences I’ve had here like being able to meet the CO of Barclays and talking to the Vice President of JP Morgan. I’ve had so many experiences that I would’ve never thought that I would be living through. It’s so many opportunities that I’ve would’ve never imagined five years ago.
Q: What informed your decision on doing on what you’re doing now?
A: I chose Del State because I’m a Dreamer, and back home I would’ve had to go to school through out-of-state tuition, and it would’ve been impossible for me to afford it. I got a scholarship through TheDream.US, which is an organization that helps Dreamers obtain a higher education, and Del State is one of the schools that partners with the organization, so that’s why it was my number one school to go to which is why I’m here.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I know what I’m planning to do after college, like pursue an accounting career, but I don’t know about my long-term plans yet.
Q: What kind of advice would you offer a student who is undecided on his or career path?
A: The advice I would offer a student who is undecided would be to try new things. When I first came here, I just said yes to every opportunity, and I’m really glad I did that because I was able to meet people and try new experiences that I probably would have never done if I stayed on the path that I’m comfortable with.
Q: How would you describe the state of higher education in America today?
A: It definitely needs some work. More schools should focus more on paying attention on the state of mind of their students like Delaware State University’s Integrated Academic Support Services.
Q: Have you ever travelled outside the United States?
A: No, I have not travelled outside the United States.
Q: What does the future hold for America?
A: America right now is unsteady, but as long as we remain united for a better cause, we will be okay.
Q: Are you interested in politics? If no, why not? What is your take on the state of politics and the future of American democracy?
A: I care about politics; I just don’t have a lot of time to pay attention to it. So, when I’m outside school I’m definitely watching The Daily Show. I like to get my news from comedic shows which I probably shouldn’t, but it makes it more fun. I am a Dreamer, and whether we like it or not, we are forced to keep track of what’s going on. I focus more on the news when it comes to finance and accounting because when I get interviewed for internships and jobs that’s what I get asked about. I’m focusing on that kind of news because my time is so limited instead of learning about all the politics in the world.
Q: How did you deal with Covid-19 as a student?
A: It was pretty easy for me because my Covid started when I wasn’t in school yet and the pandemic was more severe. It wasn’t that bad for me as a student because we weren’t allowed to go out, so it was easier because I could just sit back at home and focus. The learning online virtually was difficult. It’s hard for me to pay attention when it’s virtual, and I don’t get as much information as compared to me being there in person, and I do not like online tests. I’ve never liked online tests and I still don’t. It’s hard to get used to them.
Q: How would you describe your philosophy of life? That is how do you see this life and what principles get you grounded moving forward?
A: My philosophy is living each day better than the next. I try to be better every day using whatever I determine is better.
Q: Let us end this interview with a memorable quote from you. How would you describe yourself to the world?
A: I can’t think of any quotes, but one quote that I liked from my senior year of high school, and influenced me a lot which was “you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with,” and there’s a similar phrase in Spanish: “si, yo conozco tus amigos te conozco a ti,” right? So, ever since then I’ve been so particular with who I consider my friends or who I spend my time with because I really do think it’s true because depending on who are who you’re hanging out with, or who you spend the most time with, you’re gonna be like them. They are a reflection of the type of person you are, and the person you want to be. So, that definitely changed my perspective as to who I give my time to and who I choose to keep in my life.
Maria Luna-Ramirez at Delaware State University. (Photo by: Maria Luna-Ramirez)
Maria Luna-Ramirez is one of over 100 students at Delaware State University who are Opportunity Scholars for The Dream.US. The United States is a country full of immigrants and this nation thrives off their hard work and dedication. People should remember that immigrants bring good to this country just like Maria Luna-Ramirez!