George Ramirez is a senior from Grand Rapids, Michigan, pursing a degree in elementary education with a minor in Spanish and an interest in Chicano/Latino Studies. Ramirez is a 2023 Homecoming Court member.
This year’s Homecoming theme was “Welcome Home, Spartans,” and to me, it means that we are coming together as a community once again to celebrate our similarities and our differences. It was amazing to see so many people from the Michigan State University community come together during the parade — seeing families, alums and children cheering, chanting “Go Green,” singing our alma mater and just having a good time. We really don’t need to say “Welcome home,” because MSU will always be our home, and I believe that’s something to cherish. It was just awesome to see MSU come together for this year’s homecoming.
Being on this year’s Homecoming Court has been a great opportunity to represent my community. As a reserved person, I am grateful that I have been able to grow, learn and connect with a lot of folks from administration and receive a lot of support. College life is hard as a first-generation student, but I am very appreciative of being part of the College Assistance Migrant Program, or CAMP, and the Office of Cultural Academic Transitions as well as grateful for the support of my mentor, Francisco Velazquez, throughout my college journey.
I have also served as secretary and president in Culturas de las Razas Unidas, or CRU, throughout the years, and I am glad I found a space here on campus where I was able to meet other Latinos like me. Being part of CRU helped me learn about all our experiences because, while we can say we are first-gen or Latinos at a predominantly white institution, we also can define those experiences and meet new people, which made me learn more about my community and myself.
This year, I was elected to represent the College of Education in the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, which I am very thankful of because I am passionate about advocating for students, making sure we are heard and ensuring that issues affecting the Latinx community are elevated. For over a year now, I also have been serving as a resident assistant in my dorm, and I am a student assistant for the Farmworker Outreach Services Division under the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. In my position, I have had the opportunity to visit campgrounds across West Michigan to speak with “campesinos,” or farmworkers, to make sure they are up to date on their health and vaccinations and help them understand their basic rights as immigrant workers in the United States.
Another impactful experience I have had here at MSU is studying abroad with the International Engagement in Mexico program, where I had the opportunity to travel to Puebla to learn more about the rich history and culture of Mexico and serve as a service volunteer. This was an eye-opening experience because we got to see life from a different perspective. In addition, this experience, along with my involvement with CRU, helped me learn the ropes and has helped shape me into the leader I am today.
My advice to everyone is to always ask for help; there is no wrong question — especially if you are in the same situation as the person you’re asking. It’s better to ask questions and get them answered than to pretend to know all the answers. Lastly, I am hopeful to one day take all I have learned and use that to help positively influence lives as one of the too few Latino males that are teachers or educators.
MSU recognizes National Hispanic Heritage Month, and our community is coming together to strengthen resources, programs, research centers and scholarships serving Hispanic and Latinx students at MSU. Learn more at givingto.msu.edu.