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Diana Ramos, '12, an honors student involved in numerous social justice and human rights organizations on-and off-campus, was named by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to the prestigious "29 Who Shine" list.
The list is comprised of outstanding students representing each of the 29 public higher education institutions in Massachusetts. The honorees are chosen based on their academic achievements and record of student leadership and community service. The group will be honored at a ceremony held in May at the Massachusetts State House.
"It's just really a great honor," said Ms. Ramos of Worcester. "It's not anything I would have ever imagined earning."
Ms. Ramos boasts an extensive resume dating back to her freshman year at BSU. On campus she's a member of the Social justice League and Diversity Council, founding president of the Students for Sustainability organization, and publicity chair for AWARE, a student-run organization for GLBT students and allies. In the past, she's served as member of the Fair Trade University Steering Committee and publicity chair of Active Minds, a peer-to-peer organization dedicated to mental health awareness.
Off campus, she's served as outreach volunteer at Nuestro Huerto, a community farm in Worcester, at various Boston organizations, and has interned in Sen. John Kerry's office, at the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement in Washington D.C., and at Centro de Amigos para la Paz (Friends Peace Center) in Costa Rica.
And the list goes on.
Dr. Jonathan White, professor of sociology who has been involved with some of Ms. Ramos's projects, praised the student activist. "Diana represents the best of an engaged student, holistically intertwining her coursework, scholarship, service, and activism," he said. "She is a shining example in illustrating how students can thoughtfully connect the classroom to the community in working for social change and social justice."
A dual major in political science and philosophy, with a minor in geography, Ms. Ramos said her myriad interests and eagerness to volunteer for any type of service helped her earn a place on the list and grow as a person.
She was among the handful of students who last month organized the recent rally for fellow student, Destinie Mogg-Barkalow, who reported being assaulted on campus over an editorial she wrote titled "Prop 8 generates more hate."
It was one of Ms. Ramos's most inspiring moments on campus.
"The rally really impacted me," she said. "Getting a crowd of a few hundred people on campus in support was just amazing. That is a great step forward in engaging people to take pride in the campus and engage them in a dialogue, even if they don't agree. It was peaceful and inspiring in spreading the message."
Looking to the future, Ms. Ramos said she is seeking to dedicate her life to community service in some capacity. A few of the options she has already explored include attending graduate school for sustainability in agriculture, tackling a kidney disease epidemic among farmers in Nicaragua, or joining AmeriCorps VISTA to fight poverty.
"I'm considering options and allowing myself to grow," she said. "I just need a bit more time to focus and reflect on how I can best contribute." (Story and photo by Rob Matheson, '07, University Advancement)