First-generation student Melissa Ramos finds success at UNO and abroad


Jessica Wade

First-generation student Melissa Ramos said that she is not entirely sure what her post-graduation plans are, but she hopes to make the most of her opportunities while at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Proficient in English and Spanish, Ramos is working toward a B.A. in Spanish and Latino studies. She is also studying a variety of other languages including Persian, Tajik and Farsi.

“I got involved in Air Force ROTC my first two years of college and from there I received a language scholarship to study Persian,” Ramos said. “Last summer I also went to Tajikistan. It was awesome, I studied the Tajik language there for two months and got to stay with a host family.”

While she will walk during May commencement, Ramos said she will have three more credits to complete before officially graduating. While still a student, she hopes to study abroad in Costa Rica or Mexico over the summer. Then there is one more place Ramos wants to go before leaving UNO.

“I want to study abroad more, and apply for a semester abroad in Russia, then come back and apply for graduation,” she said.

Ramos’ plan beyond graduation is a bit less certain, but she said there are a few paths she is considering.

“I want to break language barriers and I want to get involved in a government service,” Ramos said. “I don’t know exactly what I want to do yet, but maybe Teach for America, or a nonprofit or a government program—somewhere I could teach English while learning other languages.”

Ramos said that in the distant future she would like to apply for a graduate program and earn an English as a Second Language degree that would certify her to teach English in Japan.

Expanding her language proficiencies and exploring new cultures are not the only things Ramos has devoted her time to while at UNO. She also volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and the Big Brother Big Sister program.

“I joined [Big Brothers Big Sisters] because I wanted a little who I could mentor and share what I’ve learned,” Ramos said.

It can be said that Ramos has made the most of her experience at UNO, and she said many of the opportunities she has had she owes to TRIO Project Achieve.

“Because I am a first-generation student, that helped me a lot, and if it weren’t for Project Achieve I wouldn’t have gotten the scholarships I have gotten or all the support I’ve had these past three years,” Ramos said.

The TRIO Project Achieve program is a student support service that offers tutoring and advising for first-generation students or low-income students.

Ramos may not have her future completely planned out, but when asked how many languages she hopes to learn, Ramos responded, “all of them.”