Profile: Adilene Ramirez, Ralph J. Bunche Director for UCLA’s Alumni Scholars Club

Adilene Ramirez is currently the Ralph J. Bunche Director at UCLA’s Alumni Scholars Club. This week, we got the chance to chat with this ambitious senior to discuss her hard work in organizing events and workshops for first-generation and minority students.

Her Campus: Can you tell us about your role as the Bunche Director?

Adilene Ramirez: Being Bunche Director has been a rewarding experience because 1) it is flexible in that there is a lot of freedom when choosing the focus of events, and 2) my committee and I have the opportunity to help minorities like ourselves. This is my second year being Bunche Director, and we've had a range of events, from more serious ones to fun, creative ones. I look forward to how the committee begins to grow with the new director once I finish my position.

HC: What is your proudest accomplishment so far?

AR: My committee and I had a First Generation Alumni Panel sometime in the fall quarter. We had a couple of first generation alumni talk with students and share some of their personal experiences having gone to college and out in the real world.

It ended up getting pretty emotional, I'd tell you that. I believe it is because the majority of students in the audience have shared the same experiences as the alumni: feeling lost at times in college, money issues, managing time at school and at home, etc. It all hits us first generation students, and it's great to have current students see these alumni and be able to tell themselves, 'They've struggled like me and they've made it so far. So can I.'

HC: What do you look forward to most? Any specific project you are excited to work on?

AR: I look the most forward to knowing that we've made an impact on others, even if that impact gets to just one person. That's what we are here for.

Right now, we're trying to work on a networking night for first generation students here in our club. We haven't put down the details yet, but one of my coordinators brought up the idea, and I thought it was great. I've also thought about putting together a financing workshop to show students the basics on how to save your money, build credit and any long-term financial decisions we, as young adults, should know about.

HC: What other activities have you been involved in?

AR: I just finished my internship as an Intake Intern at the Alliance for Children’s Rights. I had been there for about 6 months, and it was a great experience. It definitely taught me a lot about the foster care system, which is what this non-profit law firm focuses on. It also gave me a good environment to shadow as an aspiring future attorney.

I also work part-time in one of the campus cafés. I'll be honest and say that I never frankly liked coffee in the past, but after working there for a year, I've learned to understand why people need it all the time.

HC: So, we heard you met Gene Block! How did that happen, and what was it like meeting him?

AR: Long story short, I used to have a need-based scholarship titled the UCLA Achievement Scholarship. It's a yearly scholarship usually given to students coming from low-income families. That scholarship program I believe is coming to an end, so current recipients are having their funded scholarship replaced with other ones. I just happened to get mine replaced through the Chancellor’s new scholarship. I'm his first recipient.

That being said, I was pretty excited to meet him! We attended a scholarship luncheon a few weeks ago, and after speaking with Chancellor Block, I’d say he's a pretty intelligent and down-to-earth guy. We talked a lot about campus, and he mentioned some stuff he wants implemented around here. And we did agree that UCLA has the best food.

HC: So what are your plans after graduating UCLA?

AR: I’m about to embark on the exciting, yet, stressful process of studying for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). With the help of family and friends, I was able to raise money for an LSAT crash course that I will begin taking this spring. That being said, after graduation, I will be taking a gap year while preparing my law school applications. I’ve just recently been interviewed for the Occupational Health Internship Program here in Los Angeles, where selected applicants will spend their summer learning about the field of occupational safety and health of working people. This is done with applicant placement with a union or worker organization to work on projects that investigate job-related health and safety problems among workers (often of new immigrant groups) employed in an under-served or a high hazard job. I’m crossing my fingers for it since I believe it would give me a thorough framework for my future pursuits in labor & employment law.

HC: What made you want to pursue labor & employment law?

AR: I was raised in a working class family, a family who works in manual labor in a country that, in my personal opinion, devalues such a thing.

I think we Americans in this unstable economy are so consumed with our personal strives for excellence, prestige and financial stability that we tend to overlook the value there is in the people who pick our fruit, who build our homes and who help us navigate our lives in the shadows. Everyone depends on the backs of these people.

And while I believe that some working class individuals are just scraping by to survive, everyone—working class or not—is equally susceptible to have their jobs take over their lives. We all inherently define ourselves and others by our jobs because behind every job title is a salary, a set of hours, a stereotype, an identity and a set of power dynamics in the workplace. Therefore, everyone is at risk of workplace abuses, and I see these abuses especially in the same people whose backs we depend on. I believe we therefore have a moral responsibility as a workforce to advocate for one another and allow one another to confidently confront situations where there is a lack of value.

Thank you, Adilene, for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to hearing the amazing things you’ll continue to do!