Senior history major Diana Ramirez, who was recently featured in an FGCU360 NOW story about Honors Program students studying abroad in Trinidad and Tobago, was invited to address the FGCU Board of Trustees at its Jan. 10 meeting. President Wilson G. Bradshaw regularly selects outstanding Eagles to publicly showcase student success and The FGCU Effect. Ramirez was part of a team honored for service-learning in 2016 for compiling a 100-year historical archive for Lee Memorial Health System (now Lee Health). After graduating this spring, she plans to attend England’s University of Leeds to pursue a master’s degree in Race and Resistance. Following is the text of her presentation to the Board of Trustees.
First of all, I want to thank everyone for giving me the opportunity to share with you my experience here at FGCU. The last years have been some of the best years of my life. I have done things I never imagined doing when I moved to this country in 2000.
Through the history program I have gained the experience and knowledge necessary to produce meaningful work. I have been able to present this work in conferences and to submit it for publication. I was able to participate in research trips, like the trip to Trinidad and Tobago in which I had the opportunity to learn about culture and history through the study of calypso.
In addition, last summer I went to a study abroad program in Scotland at the University of Stirling. During this trip, I was able to visit the National Archives in London where I conducted research for a class on Caribbean history last semester.
One of the most meaningful projects during my time at FGCU was the creation of a historical archive for Lee Memorial Hospital, in which I was able to apply my knowledge while I learned about the history of Fort Myers.
Besides growing intellectually, I have gotten to know myself better, which has helped me to build on my strengths and to overcome my weaknesses, making me a more rounded individual, a better leader and an example of hard work and persistence to my children.
Classes like “Foundations of Civic Engagement” and “University Colloquium,” which are run through Undergraduate Studies, taught me about the importance of personal responsibility, engagement and commitment, and encouraged me to contribute in my community through volunteering. This is why — although the requirement to graduate is about 40 hours of service-learning — I did 155 hours. During these hours I learned about gardening and its benefits for the environment and for an individual’s mental and physical health. So, I decided to plant a garden with fruits and vegetables for the residents of a Fort Myers shelter for domestic abuse victims. It was an amazing experience, and hopefully I can continue this work in the future to bring gardens to low-income daycares and schools.
All this work has been the result of a great effort and commitment from my part. However, my professors and other students have been key to my success. By challenging and supporting me unconditionally, these individuals have help me get where I am today. I feel very fortunate to be part of FGCU.