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Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD

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Jetzael Ramos

Student Profiles Jetzael Ramos

PSJA Southwest Early College High School, Class of 2023

Plans to Attend: University of Texas at Austin

Major: Civil Engineering

Why: From a young age, the idea of being a part of the design, construction, and sustainment of the structures and buildings found within the everyday lives of all humans has always been something that has greatly intrigued me. Mainly, this is the case due to how I know that people heavily rely on these structures - such as roads, bridges, houses, and offices - in order to live their lives efficiently, and being the person behind their creation is, in my opinion, one of the more effective ways at positively impacting the world. With all this in mind, it isn't too much of a surprise that Civil Engineering has always been a major that has stood out to me. I feel that, by becoming a Civil Engineer, I would be able to make my own key impact on the world by fixing communities from the ground up while also playing a part in the creation of entirely new ones all around the world. Furthermore, when it comes to why I want to attend the University of Texas at Austin, I simply feel that it is the only school trustworthy enough to transform me into the Civil Engineer I so greatly desire to be. This is the case not only because of it's prestigious stance in the national school rankings, but also the environment, assistance programs, networking, and leadership opportunities that the school offers both on and off campus. All this combined with the fact that the university is located within the beautiful city of Austin makes it a perfect place to continue my educational journey.


⏺ A Honor Roll Student
⏺ Rotary Student of the Month
⏺ Horatio Alger Association Scholar
⏺ Javelina AP Scholar

Tell us your story! What hardships or challenges have you overcome to get to where you are today?

Growing up, poverty was never something that was rare in my life. This was the case since, around the time I was seven, my father faced some difficulties with his job which inevitably led to him losing it. Being my family’s main source of income, losing this job led to years of financial burden which, to this day, are still present within my life. While starting high school, however, my family made the decision to become migrant workers to better our financial situation. Essentially, this meant that we would travel north during the summers to harvest fruits in fields and package that same fruit in warehouses later in the day. To my parents, seeing their sons in this setting tore them apart since, in their minds, their job in life was to ensure we never had to go through such circumstances. However, I was never upset at the position we found ourselves in. Looking back, during my time working in the fields, I got to meet some amazingly hard-working people who essentially taught me why it is important to always strive to be better. Despite all this, working in that environment took a physical toll on my father which would continuously get more noticeable. For example, I would see that he would get weaker and more easily exhausted while we worked, but he never made a big deal out of his situation. However, after coming home from working up north, my father’s situation could no longer be avoided since he inevitably had a heart attack a couple of days before the start of my sophomore year in high school. The stress of our financial situation combined with the harsh circumstances that come with working in a field had simply become too much for his body to handle. Being that all of this was going on in the midst of the ever-growing Coronavirus pandemic, I had internally made a decision to keep school at the least of my worries, in order to focus more on ensuring the health of my family, and on improving our financial situation. My father hadn’t wanted my brother and me to see him in the near-death state that he was in following the heart attack, but as if telepathically sensing that I had made this decision, he told my mother to take me to his hospital room so that he could talk with me.

During our conversation, he tried reassuring me that everything was going to be okay despite all the unfortunate situations we were currently in, and he made me promise that I would continue to focus on school. He explained to me that, at the end of the day, school is the reason I’ll be able to wake up one day happy with who I’ve become and what I’ve accomplished. To this day, I continue to try my hardest when it comes to furthering my education because of my father, and because of how I know that I’ll be able to provide a better life for my family if I stay on the right path. So far, despite going through poverty and almost losing my father during a pandemic, I’ve been able to complete nearly sixty hours of college courses throughout my time in high school all while maintaining my spot as a Top Ten student in my senior class. Not only that, but because of our decision to become migrant workers, I was presented with the opportunity of joining the Migrant Program at my high school. Through this program, I was able to apply for the Horatio Alger Association Scholarship, which ultimately led to my being chosen to become a Horatio Alger Scholar. In achieving this, I was also given the opportunity to become a Rotary Student of the Month recipient, which all wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for those challenges present throughout my life. At first, I thought these challenges were going to destroy any chance I had at a better life for myself and my family. I now see that, in reality, these obstacles are the reason why I’ve been presented with opportunities to better my future and the reason why I’ve become who I am today.

How have the opportunities offered at PSJA ISD, including the PSJA Early College Program, impacted your life?

As a whole, resources such as the Migrant and Early College Programs offered at PSJA ISD have played an important part throughout my educational journey. When it comes to the Migrant Program, I was offered such a wonderful resource when I was around twelve years old, attending Jaime Escalante Middle School in Pharr. Essentially, I was able to be a part of such a program due to how my family and I relied on migrant work in order to better our dire financial needs, and the program has truly only made a positive impact on both myself and my education. More specifically, through this program, I've been able to meet a handful of PSJA Migrant Department staff that have all showcased to me their desire to ensure the success and prosperity of their students. Not only that but because of the Migrant Program, I've been presented with the knowledge and the opportunity of applying to a wide variety of migrant-specific scholarships that will inevitably ensure that I'm able to fully fund a college education. Furthermore, the Early College Program offered at PSJA ISD has had a similar, if not greater, impact on my life due to how it has essentially allowed me to obtain a college education, and an entire Associate's degree, at the same time as my high school instruction. Looking ahead, this has not only saved me a substantial amount of money but also an unimaginable amount of time, since I now have the opportunity of obtaining a Bachelor's degree with only two years at a university instead of the typical four. Essentially, because of the Early College program, my dream of becoming a Civil Engineer and redesigning entire communities for the better has substantially gotten closer to becoming a reality.

What, if anything, would you say to your PSJA Family?

To my PSJA Family, I would like to offer a piece of advice that I have relied on throughout my entire life. Essentially, the world is always going to throw obstacles in your way that are designed to make you fail. At times, these obstacles will fulfill their very purpose, but never acknowledge these moments as the end of your journey toward the goals that you have set for yourself. Instead, use these instances of failure as guidance for the future, and as stepping stones toward a greater outcome. In the end, everyone is destined to become a champion within this world, but one is not made living at the top of the mountain of life; a champion is made as a result of the sacrifices and commitment they had to make throughout their journey towards the top