From Brownsville to New York City

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Lisa Ramos of Mexican-American studies details program history April 5 in the Methodist Student Center.  Photo by Vincent Reyna

Lisa Ramos of Mexican-American studies details program history April 5 in the Methodist Student Center. Photo by Vincent Reyna

Teacher tells of her love of history and Mexican-American studies.

By Tiffany Anne Bermea

sac-ranger@alamo.edu 

This college’s newest history professor wants students to know the importance of Mexican-American studies.

Brownsville native, Lisa Ramos moved to New York when she was 18 to attend Columbia University.

“It’s really interesting, a lot of passionate, dedicated people. I learned so much,” Ramos said. She spent 13 years in New York, attending graduate school as well.

Coming from Brownsville to New York was a major culture shock. “I wanted to leave Texas. I wanted to see the world,” she said. “I was always reading books about people in other states, people in other countries and I wanted to be in the middle of all of that.”

Ramos chose New York because she wanted to go to the East Coast. She felt that New York was a diverse state and wanted to be surrounded by people of different cultures who spoke different languages.

Ramos had two friends from Brownsville who went to Columbia University, so she knew it was possible to leave home.

Her college experience at Columbia was different from what she expected. The classes were harder and she had to ‘buckle’ down. “I had to learn how to absorb a lot of information really quickly because the amount of work was two to three times what I had known in high school,” she said.

Ramos was inspired by the Students of Color organization. The organization was fighting to bring Latino and Asian-American studies.

Ramos says they were passionate people and she wanted to have as much pride in her heritage. “I learned a lot about myself and learned how to be more independent,” she said.

Ramos has always had a love for history as well as humanities. In school, she always did very well in those subjects.

Ramos loves to read even if it’s not for leisure time.

When going to a doctor’s office or anywhere, she tries to find something to read, even a flier, just so that she can learn something new.

“I’ve always been very fidgety and reading novels and history books, that kind of stuff just fascinated me always,” Ramos said.

Behind her love for history. Ramos wants to figure out why people do the things that they do. “I love people and trying to figure them out,” she said.

“Trying to figure out what motivates them, why they make decisions when they change their mind.”

Ramos taught writing classes at Columbia as well as at Barnard College, which is connected to Columbia. She taught at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and Texas A&M University-College Station.

This is the first community college she has taught at.

Ramos is one of the history professors trying to revive the Mexican-American studies program here. The old program fell apart after a few years, so they’re trying to bring it back in their own way, she said.

For fall and spring semesters, Ramos will be teaching Mexican-American History 1 and 2.

She wants students to feel welcomed into her classroom and engaged. “It’s not just about the content, it’s not about learning about important figures in Mexican-American history, but how to communicate, how to see history from different angles,” she said. “Not to see history as a bunch of boring facts, but as a very dynamic process of people making decisions they didn’t know at that time made an impact from those decisions.”

Ramos said she wants her students to understand the reasoning about the decisions that were made.

The class will cover the history of San Antonio, almost 300 years. Parents and grandparents forget to tell their children about the history of San Antonio and how it came about, she said.

“There’s so many people who don’t know about this, about the bravery and how hard Mexican-Americans had to fight just to get into schools. Just to be able to pass from the first to second grade,” Ramos said.

She wants to teach students about the lost and hidden history that people forgot.

The Mexican-American studies program will have a center in the fall in Chance Academic Center Room 100 where students can meet with teachers and speakers so that they can learn more about the history and the importance of the culture whether or not they are Mexican-American.

Ramos is also working to create workshops for sixth through 12th graders.

The Mexican-American studies program hosted a screening of “The Head of Joaquin Murrieta” March 28 in Room 218 of the nursing complex.

The movie focus on legendary Mexican outlaw, Joaquin Murrieta, and takes place sometime in the 1850s during the California Gold Rush.

People from all over the world went to California and things got very chaotic. Mexican-Americans had to compete with Euro-Americans, Anglos and Asian Americans.

The movie draws attention to lynching, a topic mostly forgotten by Mexicans. “There were Mexican-Americans who were lynched in high numbers,” Ramos said.

Filmmaker John J. Valadez wants to bring in the forgotten topic of lynching of Mexican-Americans in the Southwest. The movie brings up a topic that is normally ‘slipped under the rug’.

Ramos wants to bring back the forgotten history for her students.

For more information, email Ramos at lramos175@alamo.edu.

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