Citing Monica Ramos’ dedication to empowering students, including students who are the first in their families to go to college, the Binational Institute of Human Development awarded her its Yolotlmeztli, or “Heart of the Moon,” award.
“Monica is a walking billboard that helping others through education is the best thing you can do,” said Allison Harrison, executive director of the Binational Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering immigrants and integrating them into society.
“We’re impressed how effective she is in working with the students.”
Ramos was one of six Latino women honored by the Binational Institute. She received the Educational Achievement award at a dinner at Casa Mexico-USA in Chicago recently.
Ramos, a student success coach at NLU, describes herself as a life coach for students in the Harrison Fellows program, a scholarship program, and the Chicago Teacher Partnership Program, a teacher preparation program for high-need Chicago Public Schools.
When coaching students, she starts by having them get clear on their strengths and what they want to do in life, rather than just conversing about classes and grades.
“It’s helping students understand themselves, their skills, their strengths, their weaknesses, to see what they bring to the table, and then starting a plan to be successful academically,” she explained.
“It’s not the other way around. Some students will say they’re here to get good grades. But that’s not the way you’re going to do it. It’s about what you have to offer and what you need to be great in doing what you want to do.”
She’s proud of taking a group of NLU students on a 2012 trip to observe at the Universidad del Valle de Atemajac (UNIVA) in Guadalajara, Mexico, for teacher preparation, because many of the NLU students will eventually be teaching Mexican immigrant children. Ramos obtained her own bachelor’s degree from UNIVA before coming to NLU in 2008 to get her Master’s degree in adult education and literacy.
Her big accomplishment so far as a student success coach is creating relationships, some of which have resulted in grant money, she said. Those financial resources help NLU students to help their communities.
“If a student doesn’t have money, how are they going to complete their educational career? How are they going to be effective and leave legacy in their communities?” she asked.
She also tries to role model for her students by doing volunteer work related to supporting students of color through their higher education journey.
“That’s another message I’m sending, that as a professional you have to find some time to give back to your community,” she said. “It’s all about who you are, where you go and what kind of legacy you’re going to leave.”