By Dora Yrigoyen / Special to Viewpoints
By Dora Yrigoyen / Special to Viewpoints
Through the hum of voices in the small room known as the STEM center, student after student finds their way to the tiny office in the back.
To many students the cluttered but cozy office of Daniele Ramsey is more than just a place to discuss their future, but a safe place for them to be themselves.
“She is always willing to lend an ear if you need to talk,” said Riverside City College student Jay Bevans.
Bevans recalls the several times that she wanted to give up on going to school, but Ramsey would not let her quit.
“It’s because of her that I’m still in school,” Bevans said.
Ramsey is a RCC instructor and a counselor for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program, or STEM who knew she wanted to help people discover their dreams from a very young age.
“I knew I would be a counselor, but it would be an unconventional counselor,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey recalled being a young girl and dreaming that she owned a huge brick house, with a bunch of animals in her yard and children that were not her biological children.
She remembers seeing herself helping these kids discover who they were by touching the animals.
So as fate would have it, Ramsey grew up, and she went into the foster care system and adopted a lot of children.
Ramsey spoke softly of her adopted son who has autism and how when he was just a toddler, she bought him a horse and taught him how to love it.
Now she said proudly, as any mother, he is capable of reaching out and touching the lives of other people.
Although she said she does her best to help students she counsels as much as her own children, Ramsey said being a counselor in the STEM program is a little more challenging.
“I’m more of a touchy feely person,” she said, who went to school and got her degree as a marriage family therapist.
Ramsey said she is a little bit different than most counselors in the program because, although she does work on the academics, she focuses more on the psychology and therapy of counseling.
To Ramsey it is important that if a student is struggling with problems at home that they talk about it and make a plan to decide what a student is willing to do and not to do, to become a successful student.
But to get students to open up and confide in counselors, Ramsey said counselors need to love students for who they are and where they are at in their life and in their education.
“We always want students to become successful but were never willing to share about ourselves,” Ramsey said.
Sharing and being open is just one of the ways Daniele Ramsey has had an impact on the lives of the students she talks to.
Bevans talks highly of Ramsey’s efforts.
Bevans spoke of the times where her club didn’t have enough funds to attend a trip, but Ramsey paid out of her own pocket.
“Even when we tried to pay her back, she would not take the money,” Bevans said, the representative for the STEM club Interclub Collegiate.
It is Ramsey’s willingness to give, whether it is funds for a club event or time talking with the students that people like Bevans and Alejandra Pesqueria remember most.
“She is very caring and approachable,” said RCC student Alejandra Pesqueria. “She sincerely cares about the students.”
Ramsey said the reason she is so relatable and open to the students is due to her diversity and her background.
As a Christian, Ramsey credits God for getting her through some tragedies of her own and for making her the person she is today.
“When I die ‘what’s the legacy that I’m going to leave behind?'” she said. “I want to be known as a great woman of God and that I did everything to the best of my ability.”
Although Ramsey does not know if she will be returning to the STEM program in the fall, she said she hopes that most of all the students find themselves.
To Ramsey it’s not about the great job and the great money but about paying it forward, whether “it” being something that you lack or something that you have in abundance.
“We each have a story,” Ramsey said. “Each student has a strength that’s inside of them that’s phenomenal even if they don’t see it.”