Grad student to use political science background for future military endeavors


Portrait of ASU student Steven Ramirez.

Steven Ramirez

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While stationed in Afghanistan, Steven Ramirez was introduced to a diplomat. Though their meeting was brief, Ramirez was inspired by their role with foreign countries and how passionate they were about helping others.

“It was there that I decided one day I would want to be in that very position,” Ramirez said.

Later, after a near-death experience while serving, Ramirez returned home and began further reevaluating his life goals. He looked into Arizona State University’s veteran program and was inspired to tour the Tempe campus and the Pat Tillman Veterans Center.

“When I came into the center, they embraced me as one of their own, and the next thing I knew, I was enrolled into ASU,” Ramirez said. 

Now, he's wrapping up his senior year as a political sicence major and getting ready to graduate in December. As he reflects back on the first political science course he enrolled in through the School of Politics and Global Studies, taught by Gina Woodall, a teaching professor at ASU, Ramirez remembers feeling culture shock as a result of immersing himself back into school after deployment and five years off of education. 

Woodall helped Ramirez ease the tension that he felt as she taught him to connect what he learned in the classroom to the real world. 

“Besides having an admiration for her fighting spirit, Dr. Woodall always made you feel heard and would respectfully listen to the opinions of all students regardless of what their beliefs were,” Ramirez said. 

Thanks to Woodall’s mentorship, Ramirez feels confident bringing his knowledge of political science to his future military career. 

After graduation, Ramirez plans on commissioning as an officer in the Marine Corps and hopes to study for his master's degree under the guidance of the Thomas Pickering Fellowship, if selected.

Just like the diplomat did, Ramirez advises fellow students to share their story as it could change the path of one’s life. 

“Your story has the ability of impacting, motivating, inspiring and saving others,” Ramirez said.

Question: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

Answer: Thanks to the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, I have recently found a sweet spot to study that is located in the Sun Devil Stadium. It is the new Pat Tillman Veterans Center (Suite 500). I learned of this space while attending a mindfulness class (Koru Mindfulness) that was led by Dawn Augusta. Her class on mindfulness combined with space that was provided by the veterans center have been integral to my mental health.

Q:  What's the best piece of advice you'd give to those still in school? 

A: To all those in school, the best piece of advice that I have to give is the same advice that I give to my junior Marines: Always volunteer. Volunteer for anything and everything, regardless if you are interested in it or not. The reason that I say this is because you’ll be surprised that some of these events that we often overlook can have the ability to ignite a spark that fuels our passion.

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