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Jesse Ramirez

SPRING 2017 SPOTLIGHT AWARD WINNER

Personal by Jesse Ramirez for Schwarzenegger Institute Spotlight Award

Public service has always been a priority to me, which is why I decided to join the United States Armed Forces after graduating from high school. My six years of military service began with the Air Force for two years at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas; after which I transitioned to the Army, where I was stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During this time, I was deployed overseas in combat with Operation Iraqi Freedom and experienced firsthand the harshness of war. Placed miles away from my family and friends, I realized the importance of support system both at home and abroad. Inside my camp, we had to rely on each other for matters of life and death. These lessons made me decide to dedicate my life to helping those who lack similar support systems—economically, socially, and politically. At the end of my deployment, the desire to bring aid and justice to those on the margins of any political arena followed me home.

Months after my return, I enrolled in Santa Monica College, where I began my life of public service. As elected Student Trustee, I represented over 30,000 students. In addition to recognition, as with the Dale Ride Scholarship—the college’s highly competitive internship scholarship for good citizenry and academics—participating in student government has honed my critical thinking skills and prepared me for performing student advocacy. During my two- year tenure at community college, I lobbied for a Men’s Self-Defense Course—which incorporated principles of nonviolence and anti-bullying measures—that was successfully added to the curriculum. I also addressed AB-13, an assembly bill for California which advocated for student veterans to be charged in-state fees. My involvement in student government has enabled me to enrich the college experience for many and has also allowed me to identify my professional calling.

My admission to the University of Southern California has confirmed my devotion to public service. I am surrounded by invaluable organizing opportunities and constant, stimulating dialogue with future colleagues, and interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral research centers. Aside from classes, working for the Warrior Scholar Project on campus and being a member of the Vice Provost’s Military Affairs Committee have taught me the reality of professional student advocacy.

Ultimately, I would like to pursue an elected position in some capacity with the city of Los Angeles or surrounding cities. This will combine my interest in the politics of difference with the delivery of solutions and public service. Since beginning my college journey, I have challenged myself academically, served my community, and prepared for my chosen career path in public service. I wish to continue the path of public service, and an education is essential to be effective in that position. As a “Be the Change” student, I plan to share what I have learned from my experience in the military and in student government to be of even greater service to the university.

Spotlight Award Recommendation Letter for Jesse Ramirez
by Sidney T Ellington, PhD.
    CDR, U.S. Navy (Retired)
     Executive Director

I am writing this morning to provide my strongest possible support for the USC Schwarzenegger Institute Spotlight Award nomination of Jesse Ramirez.

Jesse, who is currently a senior at the University of Southern California (USC) and is majoring in Political Science, has been working closely with me for the past two years as a valuable part of the Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP)—an intense “academic boot camp” for enlisted military veterans who are transitioning away from military service and preparing to enter college.

WSP works in cooperation with top universities across the U.S., and in August 2015—thanks in a very large part to the leadership of Jesse—was able to come to the USC campus for the very first time in 2015. Since that first cooperative program, the USC-WSP partnership has only strengthened, thanks in large part to Jesse’s hard work and dedication.

As his record reflects, Jesse is a combat veteran of the U.S. Army.  His leadership, organizational ability, and desire to serve others were crucial in our ability to plan, organize, and conduct two highly successful academic boot camp programs at USC for enlisted veterans from all branches of the armed forces. As WSP Program Director for the USC program, Jesse serves as the campus liaison during the planning and coordination prior to the execution of the WSP course, and then directs the USC academic boot camp itself.

Jesse brought his desire to serve others to his roles with WSP, which benefitted his fellow veterans tremendously. His passion for public service is evident, and I am very much looking forward to working with Jesse and USC again in 2017. I strongly believe that, should he be nominated for the Schwarzenegger Institute Spotlight Award, he will epitomize the core values of the Schwarzenegger Institute. In his work with the WSP, Jesse has proven time and again during the past two years that he is driven by a keen desire to never rest on his laurels, and to continue to strive for excellence no matter how much he has previously accomplished.

I’m very proud to say that Jesse Ramirez is a vital part of the WSP team, and I’m certain that once he is selected as a “Be the Change” student, his “can-do-more” spirit will not only bring great credit upon the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, but will also provide a strong foundation in civic leadership for him to move on to address the many issues that face our nation today. Please give his nomination your strongest possible consideration.

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