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Women's Lifestyle Magazine

Everyday Athena: Rosalba Ramírez, Director of College Access Program, Calvin University

Rosalba  Ramírez, Director of College Access Program, Calvin University    

Athena Principle: Collaboration

Women’s LifeStyle Magazine: Tell us more about your roll as director of college access programs at Calvin University.

Rosalba Ramirez:  Calvin has had college access programs for about 30 years. Our mission is to create programs that foster access, interest and readiness for postsecondary education to pre-college  age and underrepresented students. Basically, what our programs are about is how to help our students who are graduating from high school and coming to college. We show them what that process is like and how they can learn and inform themselves in the admissions process and how to be ready. It is a very important stage in their lives and it can be scary. Some of our students might be first-generation students that haven’t had any contact with college. We are there to create familiarity to college. Right now, we are running into the summer program, which is one of a popular program for underrepresented students. They take a college course, they stay on campus and get familiar with what college is like.

WLM:  I am sure you have seen some inspiring success stories during your time.

RR:  I love all of them. All of them resonate with me. But specifically, I would say the collaboration, learning and couragous acts. I believe the three of them are very well connected, they resonate with me in my job. 

Collaboration, for example, is very important. We work in teams.  I believe strongly believe that jobs need to be done in teams because it’s important to have the mindset of many people coming together for a specific goal. Having different perspectives helps to see things that maybe you aren’t looking for or paying attention to.  I love the collaborative rocess that happens when we work in teams.

That connects to the learning process.  I am a strong believer that we never stop learning. We are students for life. We can keep learning from other people who have maybe in a situation we haven’t been in or are familiar with in life.  L from those experiences helps us. I believe that we have to embrace the learning process.

Now, that connects to courageous acts. In the program that we’re running right now, we have to transition from a campus residential program to an online platform. Being open to all the unknowns can be challenging and  scary, but its important for us to push ourselves to those limits and to be uncomfortable sometimes.

I think those three ATHENA principles are so connected to our everyday life. I’m just living them right now.

WLM:  What advice do you have for people who might be struggling to recognize these principles in their work right now?

RR: I think now, more than ever, we need to realize that we don’t need to know everything. We need to rely on the expertise of others and on different perspectives. If you are in a team that has all the same mindset, then you are not advancing. We need that variety of thoughts and variety of  beliefs so that is a rich goal set in place. It’s important now to foster those foundations, relationships and conversations and be facilitators.

Sometimes when we don’t collaborate it’s because sometimes we want to keep control and we are scared to lose that control. My advice would be to take these opportunities and challenges that happen in any professional environment to foster conversations, because none of us know it all.  You probably have diamonds on your teams that haven’t been polished yet. Collaboration allows your team members to grow. Take a little bit of a step down and let everybody else step in and see how those collaborations work.