For College of Arts and Sciences senior Veronica Ramirez, the past year has been a whirlwind of accolades, new opportunities and dreams coming true. A native of Cali, Colombia, Ramirez is the daughter of a single, hard-working mother who brought her daughters to the United States and gave Ramirez the ability to pursue her dream of studying psychology.
“My mom says that when I was little I used to say I wanted to be a psychologist,” Ramirez shared, laughing as she recalled. “I’m a very curious person.”
Upon arriving in the United States, Ramirez earned her associate degree in psychology at Tulsa Community College, but she knew she wanted to be in California and at the University of San Diego studying psychology. Ramirez is fascinated by human behavior and “understanding why we are the way we are,” she explained. “I want to understand human behavior and human differences.”
Last semester, Ramirez was a research assistant for psychology professor Nadav Goldschmied, and found in him a mentor. They worked together on researching the “underdog effect” in marketing. To continue the project throughout the summer as an independent research project, Ramirez applied and was accepted into the TRiO/USD McNair Scholars Program.
Goldschmied said he knew Ramirez was full of potential and would continue to achieve at the highest levels.
“She was very focused always sitting in the first row and constantly making sure she understood the material fully. We then collaborated on a field research project supported by the McNair Scholars Program and she was as intense, bright and inquisitive. I have high hopes for her!”
The McNair program and independent research project are not the only highlights of Ramirez’s summer. Instead, an even more prestigious highlight would come after being awarded the National Institute of Health Scholarship, to begin next summer in Washington, D.C. Ramirez will intern in Washington throughout the summer and then move to NIH facilities in Bethesda, Maryland, where she will work with a scientist in a lab conducting research, which is her passion.
“I want to be a neuropsychologist,” she says. “The root of everything is the brain and the neurons. To really understand who we are we have to know how the brain works.”
After her year with NIH, Ramirez hopes to go on to graduate school. “I want to keep making my family proud, but I couldn’t have made it this far without God and without those who have been there supporting me.”
— Melissa Wagoner Olesen