Inspired to Mentor: Meet PNW 2022 graduate Aaron Ramirez
Aaron Ramirez, ’22, is graduating with a bachelor of science in Health Studies and minors in Biology and Psychology.
Ramirez, a first-generation student from East Chicago, has served as a peer mentor in the Honors College, including as the first-ever Peer Mentor Chair on the college’s Student Advisory Board. He has also worked as a peer mentor in TRIO Student Support Services.
During his undergraduate career, Ramirez also served in the Indiana National Guard. During the COVID-19 pandemic he completed three different response missions locally and around Indiana.
Why did you choose to attend PNW?
“I remember liking PNW because it was close to home. I was also reached out to by the Honors College, which I thought was so cool. I responded, did the application, and thought ‘I’m 100% coming here.’
Just walking in on my first day of classes, they were small. I never imagined in college I would have classes of 20 students or less. It allowed me to build connections with faculty and staff. It all just made sense and truly did feel like home.”
Were you involved in student organizations or activities during your time at PNW? How did these experiences help define your success?
“I was mainly involved with Honors College and I believe it helped me meet so many great people and work on my leadership skills by being a peer mentor.
TRIO has been another amazing resource. The support from TRIO offered over these years has made me never feel alone on campus. I got to go on trips with TRIO to visit graduate programs and conferences and network with staff and faculty members at other universities.”
Did you have a pivotal experience while attending PNW?
“I think the most pivotal experience was my first semester as an Honors College mentee. My mentor, John Damarjian, was the greatest peer mentor. Before the semester started, he gave me an entire tour of the campus. He introduced me to the Honors College staff and his friends too. We would meet at Starbucks and do homework together, and I feel he was my first friend on campus. He believed in me and I just hit the ground running. I owe a lot to him.”
Did you have any challenges or setbacks while attending PNW?
“Definitely being in the Indiana National Guard was a challenge because I was a soldier and student at the same time. Once COVID hit in 2020, half of my undergrad was spent on COVID response missions. When I reached out to my professors, they were accommodating. But that was definitely a challenge taking 18 credit hours and doing full-time missions.”
What words of advice would you share with prospective students?
“I would definitely advise them to not be afraid to reach out to upperclassmen, staff, or faculty members. Also, don’t hesitate to get involved. You never know where it’s going to take you.
Network as much as possible. When you need letters of recommendation or you’re doing grad school applications, having those contacts is extremely important. And, it makes for a better college experience.
My Honors College mentor encouraged me to take advantage of office hours. When you visit, professors’ faces light up and they dedicate their full attention to you.”
What are your plans after graduation?
“I’m applying to master’s programs in education administration. I want to work in the education field, and that’s primarily because of the positive interactions I’ve had with the faculty and staff here. They showed me how much impact the staff can have on students.”
Was there anyone at PNW who inspired or encouraged you along the way?
“I can’t tell you how many times I walked into Debbie’s office and we’d talk for hours. I knew I could always count on her if I was ever having an issue. She was one of my top influencers.”
Catalina Rodriguez, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Educational Opportunity Programs, Director of TRIO Student Support Services
“I believe Catalina is the reason I’m here. She recognized me from her high school visits and encouraged me to sign up and interview for TRIO. Every year they showed me how they are there to support students. Working with TRIO made me realize I want to work in student affairs because they have such an impact on student success.”
Meet Our Fall 2022 Graduates
Discover what inspires our remarkable Fall 2022 graduates—and how they are Powering Onward to their futures.