Christina Ramos: Making a Difference Through Education


“There are many reasons for which I am interested in Education. Education is the foundation for all that we are and all that we become. It is the pathway to fulfilling our goals, dreams, and anything else we want to accomplish. And it is important that we give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed in life through education. Many people have fought for this basic human right and we should consider it a gift and opportunity for our success.” Christina Ramos

by Danielle Rodriguez

This year The Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal will honor the 100 Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose on April 26th. Honorees are selected from the private, public and not for profit sectors. What all 100 women have in common is that they are successful, influential women, both in their career fields and their communities.

One of those nominees is San Jose State Alumnus, Christina Ramos, Director of the MESA program at San Jose State University. Christina first began as a volunteer for the MESA program and admits to being in-shock when she received the call at work, as many women are nominated each year, she feels thankful and humbled by the honor.

Christina RamosWhat is the MESA Program? MESA is an acronym Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement Program that works with educationally disadvantaged students, meaning 1st generation college bound and/or students with low representation in higher education.  We work with students to provide them hands-on math and science support to keep them engaged. By serving elementary, junior high and high schools, we prepare and motivate educationally disadvantaged students to successfully pursue college-preparatory coursework and promote careers in math and science. In addition, we help students develop academic and leadership skills, increase educational performance, and gain confidence in their ability to compete professionally.

When I first started with MESA I was the Washington Square Saturday Academy advisor. I volunteered one Saturday a month to teach and provide hands-on activities in math and science to a classroom of 50-60 junior high and high school students. I did that for four years and every year our class would get bigger and bigger.  Today, as Director, my contribution is to make sure the program stays on top of what is new and exciting in the STEM areas, so that we can continue to ensure our students are getting engaging experiences that they cannot get within their classroom. Often, it is to find funding to ensure that the program can provide the resources our students need to stay competitive educationally and to provide them scholarships so that we can see them move on to a four year institution. In addition, connecting our students to mentors and internships that will help support them in their educational experiences as well as their professional ones.

Christina, you stated you were an average student that applied yourself to your studies, what advice do you have for students struggling with their college experience? If you’re a struggling student, my advice is Don’t Give Up.  There are so many students out there struggling. It took me 8 years to finish my undergrad because I worked full-time to support myself and my education.  I seen mothers, grandmothers, and every non-traditional student struggling to finish their education, I felt if they aren’t giving up, there is no reason why I should.  There will always be struggles in life; that is life.  But once you overcome the struggle to achieve that diploma, you will find a great sense of accomplishment that makes it all worth it.  So DON’T GIVE UP!

What is your take on the current state of our education system? With tuition increases and less classes being offered, how is this impacting the students in your program? My take on our current education system is that there is an injustice being done to our students, in that there is no equal quality education system for them.  The only way to get an equal quality education is if we pay for it. Or at least that is what we’ve been seeing with the cost of tuition rising.  Which inCalifornia this is an apparent tragedy, especially in the CSU system.  The CSU was built so that everyone can afford to go to college and have access to a great education, despite their family income, as long as they had the desire and the grades. But with rising tuition costs and less classes being offered in order for students to graduate, it makes the dream of higher education even more challenging.  Unfortunately, this causes some of our students to drop out or pro-long their educational goals which can put them even into more debt.  If there was ever a discouraging time for education, it would be now.  However, we need to see that the students we educate now are an investment into the future of our communities and society.  I read a quote the other day that motivated me, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” – Derek Bok. Therefore, if quality education is only accessible to a few, it is going to be more expensive for our society to have an ill-educated generation.

What do you consider one of your greatest accomplishments? My first accomplishment is graduating 1st from college and being the 1st generation of many generations to do that. I was honored that my Great-Tia’s (my grandmother’s sisters) took a train fromChicago to come see me graduate. Another is the MESA students who go on to college and come back and they have done some amazing things, it inspires me to continue to do more. One of my MESA students is my younger cousin, I feel like I’ve made an impact not only in my community, but in my family, and sometimes that is the hardest place to make the impact.

Are there any future goals or dreams that you would like to share with us? Are you involved in any other organizations?  I have many goals and dreams. That is what is so great about my career; my students inspire me all the time to push past my own boundaries. But right now I’m just trying to figure out where the next path will take me.  I’ve been studying to take the LSAT, so maybe law school. Currently, as MESA Director, it takes up a lot of my time, but I am able to serve as Secretary on the San Jose Cal-SOAP Consortium board and I’ve been accepted and started class with theLatino Leadership Alliance Academy, which is a six month program based on civic leadership.

What advice do you have for other women looking to give back and make a difference in their communities?  My advice for other women looking to give back and make a difference is that there is no small amount of giving.  Find something you are passionate about and give whatever it is you can give, whether it is, your time, your treasure, or your talent. Every act of kindness can make a difference.

The SJSU MESA School Program is designed to prepare and motivate educationally disadvantaged students to successfully pursue college-preparatory coursework and promote careers in math and science, while developing their pre-professional and leadership skills.  To learn more or for information on donating to the program (, contact Ramos at (408) 924-3837 or

Danielle Rodriguez lives in San Jose, CA with her husband and three children. She works in Silicon Valley and also runs a home based skincare business. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling to her favorite spot in Cabo San Lucas and sharing good food and wine! She’s a native San Josean and received her BS in Public Relations from San Jose State University.