Celebrating Diversity - Alma Ramirez-Rodgers

  • The entire extended Ramirez-Rodgers family smiling at the camera.

Celebrating Diversity: Alma Ramirez-Rodgers

Alma and her husband take a photo on vacation

Sept. 15 - Oct. 15

In the College of Engineering, all are welcome. To better share the stories of how our faculty, staff, students and alumni are diverse in their many varying forms, we are celebrating various heritage and other nationally recognized months. This recognition will include stories about those in our greater engineering community, as well as sharing events and other opportunities.

Alma Ramirez-Rodgers

Senior assistant director of student development, College of Engineering

Q: Describe a bit about your personal and/or professional background.

A: I was born in Mexico to parents who did not have the opportunity to finish primary school. It was the opportunities my father experienced while working in the US as a migrant farmworker that convinced him to bring his wife and children to join him in the early 70’s. Although my parents came from humble beginnings, they understood education was the key to a better life and encouraged us to work hard in school.

Their hard work and personal sacrifices, motivated me and five of my seven siblings, to go to college and complete our undergraduate degrees (4 of us from UNL). In addition, four of us also went on to complete advanced degrees. Along with my BA in Psychology, I completed an MS in Counseling with an emphasis in Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education. The latter degree I completed while married, working full-time and taking care of three young children. As a first gen student, college wasn’t always easy, but when times were tough, I realized how important it was to reach out for support. This support came from many of the people I met along my college journey (e.g. student organizations like the Mexican American Student Association, instructors, Multicultural Affairs staff, etc.). If it wasn’t for these people, and my family, I’m not sure I could have made it through college. I guess you could say my success was not only for me, but for all those who believed in me.

It was the networks I developed while in college that helped me get my first position with UNL. After two years in that position, I made the move to the College of Engineering where I have been for 24 years.

Alma and her family smile while on vacation

Q: What is your role in the College of Engineering – and what do you enjoy (love!) about what you are doing?

A: As Sr. Assistant Director for Student Development, I coordinate several current student programs on Scott Campus. These include the Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP), Women in Engineering Program (WIE), Engineering Readiness Academy (ERA), and the Engineering Living Learning Community. I also help support our COE student organizations on Scott Campus.

What I love the most about what I do is the personal connections I’ve been able to develop with students, faculty and staff throughout the years. In addition, knowing that I can be that support person for a student who needs it, just as others were for me when I was going through college, really “fills my cup”!

Q: Why is your heritage meaningful to you and your family? Is there a specific example/event/tradition of how you showcase or celebrate your heritage in its many forms?

A: My heritage is meaningful to me and my family because it’s an opportunity for us to come together to celebrate the values that have been handed down to us from previous generations. One example of how we celebrate our heritage is the participation of “Padrinos” in events such as weddings and Quinceñeras (celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday). Padrinos are sponsors who are made up of family and friends who volunteer to pay for certain aspects of the celebration (e.g. food, music, space, etc.) and may be assigned a specific duty during the mass portion of the event. This tradition exemplifies the value my heritage places on community and family.

Q: How do you bring your own unique background to your role/responsibilities in the college or in your professional life?

A: As a first-generation female of Mexican descent, I believe I’m a living testimonial that although there may be several challenges one might face in life, these can be overcome with perseverance (or “ganas” as my dad would say) and support from family, friends and/or others who believe in you.

Q: What advice or words of wisdom could you share with others in our UNL College of Engineering community (staff, faculty, students, alums)?

A: Know where you come from and be willing to share it with those who could be inspired by your experience. Secondly, be open to seeking out opportunities where you can learn and grow from others who might be different from you. Lastly, LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE!