From seniors to citizens: Step Z

Senior spring to social security. On the hill to over the hill. Graduation to … grandchildren? Here’s what seniors have to say before all is said and done.

Jesús Ramirez is a long way from home, but he doesn’t want to look too far down the road. 

“I haven’t really thought about the long, long future … It’s like thinking about Step Z when you’re barely at Step A,” he said. 

So, how will Ramirez get from A to Z? He really doesn’t know, but he is from AZ, the proud state of Arizona.

 “There are some estimates that by 2050, Phoenix is going to be uninhabitable because it’s going to be too hot,” Ramirez said. 

Thus, if Ramirez ever wants to return home, he needs to ensure that he has a viable hometown to which to return. Back when Phoenix was fully hospitable, one of Ramirez’s three older brothers put fashion on his radar, and over time, Ramirez saw the effect of the fashion industry on the environment. 

“I started seeing how much the clothing industry impacts the environment,” Ramirez said. “That’s when I realized that this could be a perfect way forward for me in my career because it’s two things I’m passionate about: clothing and environmentalism.” 

After Ramirez works in the field of sustainable fashion for a few years, he hopes to earn a graduate degree. 

“There’s a lot of MBA programs that are incorporating more sustainability, and that’s something that excites me,” he said. “It would be worth having that knowledge or piece of paper that would label me as an ‘expert’ and open up more opportunities for me.” 

An MBA will surely open doors for Ramirez, but he credits his parents with enabling him to pursue post-secondary education in the first place. 

“As a first-[generation] student, I’m definitely going to have to think about supporting my parents,” Ramirez said while considering the distant future. “I definitely would love to return the favor that [they] did by working so hard to get me here.” 

Ramirez’s parents will set foot on campus for the first time for his graduation.

“I’m really looking forward to having [them] here. I just want them to know where I’ve been these past four years,” Ramirez said. 

At Tufts, Ramirez has flourished under the supportive guidance of Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Rob Mack.

“If it weren’t for [Mack], if it weren’t for the BLAST [Bridge to Liberal Arts Success at Tufts] program, I have no idea where I’d be right now,” Ramirez said. 

Without Tufts’ support system for first-generation students, Ramirez might not have attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid this past December. He might never have become a Latino Peer Leader at the Latino Center, and he might not have met Sonia Sotomayor, the inspirational Latina Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

“She’s just so warm and open and giving. She gives so much,” Ramirez said of Sotomayor. 

Ramirez, too, aims to be a giver. Right now, he’ll always give moral support (or an interview) to anyone who asks. Down the road, he wants to give the fashion industry “the right direction to the future.” 

And Ramirez will never, ever give up fashion. 

“In retirement, I’ll still be stylin’,” he said.

 Maybe he can consider that Step Z. 


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