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ASU, scholarship help business student realize dream

August 26, 2009

José Ramirez has a plan. One day, he and his father will run their own small business, specializing in tile and granite installations. The plan is closer than ever, he says, thanks to his degree work at Arizona State University and a recent scholarship award from the іAdelante! U.S. Education Leadership Fund.

Ramirez, a third-year collegian who lives in the Maryvale district of Phoenix, enrolled at ASU’s West campus as an accounting major in the School of Global Management and Leadership. With ASU’s recent academic restructuring, Ramirez is now on track to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the W.P. Carey School of Business in May 2011. In the meantime, he is doggedly doing everything he can to apply lessons learned at ASU and take advantage of the opportunity that has come with his recent scholarship, including attending the upcoming 2009 іAdelante! Leadership Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

“Working together side-by-side with my father is a dream that I plan to make a reality," says Ramirez, whose father has been a tile worker for a dozen years and has evolved his craft into works of art. “We have been kicking around this idea for quite some time, and we’d like to see it come true within the next few years.

“I want to be able to help him out from the business side. It is a great chance to bond with him and take part in what he loves to do. To me, it’s the perfect way to fuse together our specialties and provide a service we can be proud of.”

Ramirez graduated with honors from Phoenix Alhambra High School and was able to attend ASU on the strength of a Provost’s Scholarship, as well as an Alhambra Foundation for the Future scholar gift. His most recent award, presented by іAdelante! for exemplary academics and leadership skills, is well deserved.

“Mr. Ramirez’s leadership skills have emerged as he has worked with others,” says Regina Clemens Fox, an English lecturer in ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences. Clemens Fox wrote Ramirez’s letter of recommendation to іAdelante!. “He never lets up on his devotion to what he wants to accomplish. He has strong values and ethics and he works tirelessly to improve. It is impressive and endearing to work with someone who is so focused.”

Ramirez, a first-generation collegian hoping to set an example for his three younger siblings, says he embraces the diversity of the ASU community, which he credits for helping him become a better student and laying the groundwork for his professional life.

“ASU is a very interesting school,” he says. “What strikes me most is that there are students and scholars from across the globe attending and interacting with each other; it enhances the college experience. One of the greatest lessons I have learned by attending ASU is to be accepting of ideas and input from your colleagues. Working alongside people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures has helped me understand that we live in a global community where everyone is not the same in any form or fashion.”

Clemens Fox believes Ramirez’s adaptability and inclusion are outgrowths of his strong family values.

“He works very well with others and has a strong multicultural perspective,” she says, adding that Ramirez once brought his younger brother into a weekend class to expose him to the group dynamics of his English work. “There was such an ease in how he negotiated working with diverse people in the group and his family member.

“He takes advantage of every opportunity to work with others, and the end result has always been improvement for all involved. That spells leadership to me – the willingness to go far and take others along for the ride.”

In the meantime, Ramirez is learning a profession indirectly driven by his father, José Sr.

“I knew ever since high school that I wanted to become a business major, and I decided to pursue accounting because I knew that someday I wanted to open a business with my dad," he says. "Hopefully, one day I can utilize what I learned while studying accounting, earn my CPA and help my dad successfully manage our future company together.”

Ramirez, who says his time-management skills and discipline were honed while a track and field letterman at Alhambra, is thankful for the іAdelante! opportunity and has a keen eye focused on the upcoming Leadership Institute.

“This scholarship isn’t all about the money; it goes beyond that,” he says. “It also gives me a great chance to network with other business students and professionals.”

The three-day conference will feature more than 100 undergraduate students from across the country. They will learn about leadership skills and how different personalities and styles can be successful in any environment, connect with a national network of business professionals and peers while improving communication skills through a variety of workshops, and participate in activities that will include internship and employment opportunities.

“I will be surrounded by other Hispanic business students from around the country," says Ramirez. "It represents a chance for me to really start to step outside my comfort zone and into the real world, and it’s a great opportunity for me to grow as a student and as a scholar. As a representative for ASU, I am privileged to show others what this university is all about.”