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Karen Ramirez

Hometown: Central Falls

Major: Secondary English Education, minor in Portuguese

Ramirez is a first-generation Latina-American and the first in her family to graduate from an American college.

Although she has majored in secondary English education, English is Ramirez’s second language. She chose to minor in Portuguese because she thought it would be helpful in her career as a teacher – making her trilingual. “I realized early on that I want to work with students from the inner city. Students from the inner city are usually minorities and immigrants. I chose to learn a third language so I could communicate with parents easily,” Ramirez said.

“I have always wanted to be a teacher my whole life,” she said. “I remember teaching my sister math when we were younger – even though I am terrible at math. I would sit her down and try to teach her multiplication. At the time I think I was 10 years old, and my sister was six. As I grew older I realized that becoming a teacher was my calling.”

Her English teacher at Central Falls High School, Deloris Grant, is a RIC alumna, which partially inspired Ramirez to choose the school.

In order to attain teacher certification in Rhode Island, students must pass the Praxis test. Passing the test set her back an entire year, but through intensive studying and multiple attempts, Ramirez eventually succeeded and moved on to student teaching at Classical High School in Providence. “Unfortunately, most states require a standardized examination for teacher certification despite extensive research that shows how standardized tests are culturally biased and disadvantage students of color and students from working class backgrounds,” said Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Jeremy Benson, Ramirez’s faculty advisor.

She is the winner of this year’s Jennifer S. Cook Award, “given to a graduating senior English/education major who embodies the characteristics of a teacher as demonstrated by Jennifer S. Cook, a revolutionary teacher and writer who saw her work as a calling.”

After graduation, Ramirez hopes to land a teaching position in Central Falls and eventually return to RIC to pursue an advanced degree. “I hope to inspire other first-generation students to earn their college degrees and pursue their dreams,” she said.​

Page last updated: August 22, 2017