By Paige Waddell, Penn State Schuylkill Athletic Department Corporate Communications Intern
Melissa Ramirez, a senior biology student and athlete at Penn State Schuylkill, did some incredible work over the summer in her community. What started out as simply assisting the executive director of Schuylkill County VISION, Jeanne Elberfeld, turned into an independent study in which Ramirez helped Spanish-speaking citizens in the community gain access to two different health programs. Ramirez is a model student, an ambitious athlete, a tutor on campus and—more than anything else—wonderfully generous and caring.
Aside from academics and her most recent venture with Elberfeld, athletics has meant a great deal to Ramirez. For two years, and going, she has been a part of the Penn State Schuylkill Women's Cross Country team. When asked about how it felt to be a part of a championship team, Ramirez said, "Being a part of this team has been a journey that has taught me lifelong lessons… Sooner than later we all became a family and worked hard to eventually win the title of two-time consecutive PSUAC Champions! This year, we are on our way to a third title. I love this team and the lessons that the sport has taught me… Being a part of this team has opened a plethora of opportunities for me to overall reach my highest potential."
Ramirez is commended by Coach Joe Muldowney in his heartfelt words, "I can't say enough about Melissa. Every day that Melissa comes to practice she brings her all… Melissa is a great runner with positive energy… You can always count on her. She is a great runner, but an even greater human being."
Many of Melissa's classmates and those who have helped to shaped her as a student over the years on campus are feeling bittersweet about her impending graduation. Muldowney said, "When she told me that she was graduating, I said it made me sad, but that's the pleasure of coaching. She is going to be a success at anything she does in life because that's the kind of person she is." It is clear that Ramirez has a habit of making an impact of people's lives, whether that impact is big or small.
When asked how she balances the many aspects of her life, Melissa had a lot to say about the ways she keeps busy and how necessary it is to take breaks. Her advice?
• Prioritize. Before Melissa does something fun, she finishes a task that she has prioritized.
• Maximize. Melissa maximizes the quality of the time she spends on an activity rather than focusing on the time she has available to do it. She uses running workouts for cross-country as an example, saying, "If I only have 30 minutes to run every day, I make sure to reserve a slotted time in my planner and rotate between speed and distance workouts."
• Find Hidden Time. Melissa says that every minute counts.
Finally, Melissa says, "I allow myself at least one hour every day for 'decompressing.' This means that every night I like to put a face mask on or light an aromatic candle. Anything that can relax my mind from a hectic day helps me stay fresh and ready to tackle my list of tasks for the next day."
Ramirez has accomplished many things in her time at Penn State Schuylkill. She has become a woman who everyone can admire and aspire to be like. Ramirez has made tremendous contributions in her community with breaking the language barrier in public health care; she is high-ranking in academics; she is an astonishing athlete; and she even does this while working two jobs. Those who know Melissa have no doubt that she will be very successful and touch many more lives once she graduates from her journey here, at Penn State Schuylkill.