Center for Excellence Honoree: Maritza RamirezMaritza Ramirez once considered applying for a job in her native country of Chile. She was abundantly qualified, but didn't stand a chance of getting it. The reason? The ad said, "only men need apply."
"I think you have to be born outside of this country to really appreciate all that it offers," said Ramirez, manager of technology at the School of Law Center. "I've been so blessed. I love what I do for a living. I get so much respect and I've been given many, many opportunities."
Ramirez, who has been affiliated with the law school for most of the last 23 years, is one of six employees who will be recognized at this year's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students' annual recognition dinner on Thursday, Oct. 20 in the Recreation Center. The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students encourages, supports and recognizes superior teaching and service to students at Quinnipiac.
The award came out of the blue, Ramirez said. "They called me on the walkie-talkie and said, 'Maritza, the [University] president is here.' I thought, 'What did I do? Does he need help with technology?' To get this award is amazing. Please, wake me up!"
She is quick to add that the award should be given to her whole technology team.
"They should give the award to my department. My staff does a great job supporting every aspect of the law school technology operation to better serve our students," she said.
Ramirez works with every department in the law school, including admissions, student services, the law library, the law clinic, administrative services, the law faculty and provides classroom technology support.
"The intellectual exchange of ideas with all these groups mixed with debate and collaboration provides great service to the law students and the Quinnipiac community," she said. "The students are very important to me."
She said she receives strong support from Dean Brad Saxton and the law school faculty and administration.
Ramirez said the staff at the School of Law is also very important to her.
"Some of my co-workers are like my family. I've known them forever. If I have any problems, they're by my side," she said. "We spend a lot of time together outside of the office. We feel a family connection. It is a very good group of people."
Ramirez began working for the law school, then a part of the University of Bridgeport, as a student in 1982. When Quinnipiac acquired the law school, "I came with the furniture," she jokes.
Ramirez is known for going above and beyond her job description, wrote Christopher Herrick '05 and Sherilyn Scully in their letter of nomination. Herrick was last year's president of the Student Bar Association. Scully is assistant dean of students in the School of Law.
The law school used to create hard-cover yearbooks for students, but it was expensive and required someone to sell advertising. It had been a decade since the last law-school yearbook had been produced.
Ramirez agreed to try to produce a CD-ROM version, with the students taking the pictures.
"She trained students to use camera equipment and attended photo sessions. She made suggestions for copy, found and edited pictures and artwork, and even designed the cover," wrote Herrick and Scully.
"Maritza worked on this project many evenings and weekends after finishing her other administrative duties. Her dedication to this project was voluntary and well beyond her job description," they said. "The students were overjoyed to receive an innovative yearbook."
Ramirez also volunteered to produce a DVD of the Law School Follies, which required filming, editing and printing the DVD.
"It was fun to capture that memory of the students and faculty doing something extraordinary," Ramirez said.
Growing up in Chile was much different from the United States. By the 8th grade, Ramirez had to decide whether she would go to college or select a technical path. She decided to become a secretary. She saved as much money as she could from age 17 to 22, and then came to Massachusetts to learn English.
While she was here, she took a college course and found it was much easier for her than she'd expected. She wound up working at and attending the University of Bridgeport, where she ultimately earned both a bachelor's and master's degree. Except for one year, when she returned to her native land, she has been affiliated with the Law School since 1982.
"I am definitely living the American dream," she said. "I once thought about going back to Chile. But as a woman it would be impossible to be a technology professional there. It is still a male-dominated society."
Ramirez recently became a U.S. citizen, something she had thought about often. But after the terrorism of 9/11, she knew it was something she must do.
"I had waited because I didn't want to become a U.S. citizen until I was sure that I loved this country like I loved my native country," she said. "On Sept. 11, when I saw the planes crash into the Towers, I knew, OK, now I'm going to do it. I thought, 'You know, this is my country! How dare you do this!' I felt it. I felt like an American. I said to myself, 'I will represent this country. I will defend it.' At the end of the day, it is the best system of government. It isn't perfect. But it is the best there is."'
In addition to her work, Ramirez enjoys swimming, cross-stitch and reading. She has traveled all over the world, vacationing in Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Russia, Taiwan, England, Ireland, Holland, France, Italy, Mexico, Peru, St. Martin, Canada and Switzerland.
Does she have a favorite? "Every place I go," she said.