We’ve got an update on an alumna we profiled in NC State’s Winter 2008 issue. At the time of the piece in the magazine, Esmeralda Luna-Ramos ’09 was a chemical engineering student and a recent naturalized U.S. citizen who had led a dozen NC State students who were part of the Caldwell Fellows, a scholarship program founded by the Alumni Association, to her hometown, Puebla, Mexico. And today? Luna-Ramos works in engineering and construction plant design at Eastman Chemical, and she’s the face of the company’s new ad (featured left).
After the jump is the introduction and the Q&A for the magazine piece we published on Luna-Ramos in 2008:
Caldwell Fellow Esmeralda Luna-Ramos and her family moved to Raleigh when she was an infant so her father could pursue a doctoral degree in soil science at NC State. Once she became a Caldwell Fellow, she dreamed of taking other Caldwells to her hometown of Puebla, Mexico. Though she spent most her childhood in North Carolina, she attended fifth grade there. Last spring, she led a dozen Caldwell Fellows on a service trip to Puebla and plans to take a second group this spring.
A chemical engineering major, Luna-Ramos received the College of Engineering’s Faculty Senior Scholar Award and plans to work at Eastman Chemical after she graduates in May. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in September.
Why did you lead these trips?
Because I got to experience firsthand what it’s like to be a student in Mexico, I realized what resources students there lacked. There are few extracurricular activities, there are no free or reduced lunch plans, and there is no public transportation. Extra support offered to students who are struggling in certain courses isn’t available. I wanted to give back to those who might not have all the opportunities that I’ve had.
What did you do there?
Our service trip focused on working at a public elementary school that had about 200 students in first through sixth grades. [M]ost public schools in Mexico do not have art education, so we created some art activities that we shared with students. The main project was to paint a mural in which all the students participated. We also brought T-shirts and painting supplies so that they could paint their own shirts. We taught the children English songs, and we left them new soccer balls and jumps ropes and donated toothbrushes and toothpaste. We left things that we take for granted here.
What did you take away from these trips?
I will always remember the happiness that we brought those students. You could see the joy on their faces as they painted or played a game of soccer with us. And there was a sixth grader who said she was encouraged to keep working hard because of my example. And when we finished the mural, it brought me to tears because I saw how in one week we brought many of these children a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Why did you become a citizen?
I love this country. I want to be a role model for the youth and our future leaders and to fully contribute by serving and leading my community. Before, I couldn’t vote or consider applying for a federal position. Because I’ve spent much of my life here, I have felt like I’m part of the American family. Now it’s official.