Originally featured in the Spring 2009 newsletter
Jose A. Ramirez, 25, was born in Secaucus, New Jersey. His father was from Cuba and his mother from Puerto Rico. Both parents arrived in the United States in the summer of 1981 to start a family and pursue a life of opportunity. Jose attended Camden County Technical High School in Pennsauken, NJ and decided to join the U.S. Marine Corps upon graduation in 2001. Nearing the end of his enlistment he decided it was time for the next step, and that was to go to college. Jose traveled throughout Asia and Australia. While stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, he could have easily applied to schools in Hawaii, but he wanted to attend Rutgers University in New Jersey. He admits that submitting all required documents for the application was stressful because of the distance, but after attending Rutgers University for a few years, he said, “I knew I made the right choice.”
Jose’s transition from Marine to student was not an easy one. He recounted, “I had no prior knowledge of the ways a college operated. Did not know which classes to register for or how to develop a class schedule let alone get to resources I needed.” He explained that hitting the books again, after being away from school for a few years, was a huge challenge. The military lifestyle was structured with early morning physical activities and duties throughout the day. Jose described that life as a student includes staying up late studying for exams, writing papers and sitting in classrooms where most students are younger and have not shared his experiences.
In the beginning at Rutgers he reached out to his family, especially his father, Jose Sr., when having difficulties grasping the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe or needed prodding when things seemed impossible. Jose admitted that early on he was doing poorly in academics, but sticking to his motto, “adapt and overcome" along with searching for fellow Veteran students helped him through the various student life experiences.
Currently Jose attends Rutgers full-time and works part-time as a community service officer for the Division of Administration and Public Safety. He maintains a solid B average and plans to graduate in May 2010 as a communications major. “My goal is to help adults and Veteran students by continuing to campaign for diverse transition programs that help students adjust.”
Today, as the Secretary of the University College Council, his advocacy for returning Veterans to Rutgers continues to be supported by members of the UC Council and University College. “I am very proud to have served my country, and now I am determined to serve those who are serving me, the future student Veterans of Rutgers University.”