Military-Friendly UST Offers a Distinct Advantage
Don’t let student veteran Alanis Ramirez’s petite 5’0” height fool you. The 21-year-old Specialist in the Army National Guard made it through a challenging 10 weeks of boot camp. Perseverance, tough-mindedness and faith got her through.
She recalled, “In the last phase of basic combat training, the final event was a four-night, three-day event where I had to carry my 35-pound ruck for 10 miles the first night and 10 miles the last night. I sustained sprains in both ankles, Achilles tendinitis and a back injury and was in physical and mental agony — I felt like giving up. But slowly, the moonlight lit a path that guided me through the forest breaking me free from total darkness.”
Recognizing Opportunities and Taking Action
Remarkably resilient, this highly motivated first-generation college student also has a history of spotting opportunity signs and acting on them. When she was a high school student in Conroe, Texas, a recruiter from the National Guard came and explained how she could serve her country part-time and have a way to pay for college. She also learned about the University of St. Thomas-Houston while at high school, attending a college fair. During her senior year, in the fall of 2019, she was accepted to UST and enlisted in the Army National Guard.
UST contained a distinct advantage to her way of thinking — it was a small, military-friendly campus with its own Veteran Success Center.
Advantages of the Veteran Success Center
“When I got to UST, I reached out to the Veteran Success Center because I didn’t know where to start,” Ramirez said. “There is a shock in transitioning away from having a strict schedule and wearing a uniform every day. I felt off-track, and the Center helped me with the transition to college and with my benefits like the GI Bill.”
Ramirez said it’s reassuring to know UST has a veteran community with its own space.
“I like that there are like-minded people in the campus community and advisors who will support you as a student and a soldier.”
Clarity about Her Goals
Ramirez continues to persevere, commuting back and forth to UST from her home in Conroe, working part-time as a fast-food cook on the weekends, and traveling to Austin once a month for the weekend commitment to her unit at Camp Mabry. She is majoring in psychology with three minors — pre-med, pre-physician assistant and military science.
“I’m projected to graduate in 2025 and, because I’m in the ROTC program through the University of Houston, I will commission as a Second Lieutenant. After that, I plan on going through BOLC (Basic Officer Leadership Course) and branch into the Medical Corps.”
Her Proud Parents
Her parents are proud of their daughter and the goals she sets for herself. Not only is she the first in her family to go to college, but she is also the first woman to serve in the military. Still, they worry.
“Yes, there are challenges to being Hispanic and a woman in the male-dominated worlds of medicine and the military, but I believe that anything is possible and want to inspire Latinas to be fearless and chase their dream careers.”
Mom Following in Daughter’s Footsteps
Ramirez believes the unconditional love and support she has received from her parents made it possible for her to pursue her path in life. And now her mother seems to be following in her daughter’s footsteps. Ramirez says her mother, an academy coach at Walmart, is currently working toward a business degree from Bellevue University in Nebraska. And Walmart is paying for it.
As for Ramirez, she keeps moving her 5’0” frame forward with the certainty of a bold, mighty future.