Alfredo Ramirez, a senior at Hillcrest High School, is a recipient of the 2015 Sulentic Family Foundation Scholarship.
A victor in his own right, Ramirez’ journey to academic success is one filled with seemingly insurmountable odds. A native of Valles City, Mexico, Ramirez and his family carved out a life for themselves amid increasing cartel activity and economic decline. For Ramirez, a summer evening drive home from playing sports with his dad would change his life forever.
On July 22, 2010, while slowing as they approached a traffic jam, Ramirez and his father found themselves caught in the crossfire of cartel violence. After a swift turn to escape the danger, their car attracted unwanted attention and before they knew it. Ramirez’ father was snatched out of the vehicle and kidnapped before his eyes.
That experience left him feeling, “angry, desperate, and helpless,” Ramirez said. After 12 hours of waiting and worrying, Ramirez’ father was returned to his home. The traumatic experience warranted drastic measures. Ramirez’ father decided that America is the best place for him to be.
Soon after he arrived, the reality of the big change set in. Ramirez recalls feeling overwhelmed by the language barrier, homesickness and post traumatic stress.
“I couldn’t read, write, or understand English,” he said. “For the first time in my life, school was a real challenge. In Mexico, I could understand information quickly. What I used to automatically understand before, now had to be translated for comprehension.”
Despite the odds, Ramirez mastered the English language, assimilated into American culture, and achieved academic success within four years. He is a member of the Academy of Engineering and the Robotics Organization at Hillcrest High School. An accomplished musician, Ramirez plays multiple instruments. He is also the co-director of music for the children’s choir at his church. He plans to attend Texas A&M University to study biomedical engineering.
View the video above to learn more about Ramirez’ story.