Nestor Ramirez is a former adviser at Surry Central High School and East Surry High School. He now works as a research education analyst at RTI International and is pursuing a PhD.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – When he graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, Nestor Ramirez was so grateful that he wanted to give back.
So he joined the College Advising Corps, which places recent college graduates in high schools to act as “near-peer” advisors, especially among underrepresented student groups.
Working with students at Surry Central High School in Dobson and East Surry High School in Pilot Mountain, Ramirez would arrange college visits for students or help them understand how to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – a must-do to receive financial aid.
“Just in my experience in doing it, I cannot sing its praises highly enough,” Ramirez says in the accompanying video.
“It’s something that I really could tell impacted a lot of the students that I was serving and the students that were being served at the other schools (where) my colleagues were working.”
Ramirez now works as a research education analyst at RTI International, designing surveys to measure what students view as obstacles to pursuing a degree. His own undergraduate experience at Chapel Hill led to a graduate certificate and pursuit of a doctoral degree.
And he still stays in touch with students he mentored in Surry County – some of them now college graduates themselves.
“It’s one thing to take things that we learn in the research that students need more information, students need advocates,” he says. “It’s another thing to have that packaged in the form of someone who looks very similar to them and is [a] very similar age who has already made it … has already graduated.
“To be able to say, ‘I did it – and you can too’ means a lot.”