Sandra Ramirez ’23 has passionately championed immigration reform, an issue close to her heart. Her parents immigrated to the United States from Guatemala with nothing except the hope for a brighter future.

sandra ramirez

While the U.S. stands as a beacon of freedom and promise to many, the path to realizing that dream can be far more intricate and challenging than we realize. In 2017, Ramirez was separated from her brother due to the immigration system, and much of the legal responsibility fell on her shoulders as a teenager.

“I was the oldest and I’m bilingual so I had to do all of the translating, meeting with the lawyers, and visits to my brother at the detention center,” Ramirez says. “Having that traumatic experience as a young child really affected me. It opened my heart to see that millions of families go through this every single day and their stories aren’t being told.”

Since then, Ramirez has dedicated her life to the cause. While working on her education degree with a dual licensure in primary and special education (K-12) at the Mount, she knew education was the key to making a change. In college, Ramirez was involved in immigration advocacy work through the faith-based organization, Ignite Peace. She also tutored bilingual children at Cincinnati Public School’s LEAP Academy and received the English Language Learning Foundation (ELL) Tutor of the Year award.

“So many of these children came to the U.S. from countries like Mexico and El Salvador, and it was touching to have them trust me and learn about their experiences,” Ramirez says.

Today, Ramirez lives in New Mexico and crosses the U.S. border every day to the colonia of Anapra, Mexico, to teach at the Santo Niño Project—a Montessori school started by the Sisters of Charity Cincinnati that serves children with special needs. Not only do these students receive an education, but it’s one of the only schools in Mexico that offers in-house resources for physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy to student’s families—completely free.

The Santo Niño Project has plans to acquire the building next door so they can create a bigger school with more classrooms, more teachers, and more services to expand their outreach.

“For me, I want a future that’s loving, caring, and embodies the verse Matthew 25:35-40,” Ramirez says. “I believe that we are to love our neighbors. We are here to support and care for one another. And that’s what this little school is doing.”

Ramirez has even started her own discernment process as she works toward joining the Sisters of Charity.

“I never thought I would be here but it turns out that it was definitely where God wants me,” Ramirez says. “I get to wake up every day saying yes to this feeling of deeper joy, love, and purpose. If you ever wonder what the Sisters of Charity do, reach out and explore. You will meet some inspiring and empowering women who live the Gospel every day. It’s also a chance to reflect and ask yourself, Am I someone that’s called for religious life?”

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