The following was excerpted from Autumn Johnson’s speech at the Distinguished Women’s Award Celebration.
My experience was extra special because I spent – not one – but two days being mentored by Senora Elianne Ramos, an inspiring woman who has a passion for advocacy in the Latino community.
Senora Ramos has done outstanding work to help the Latino community, and the community of women and girls. She fights for the rights of immigrants. She stands up for voters’ rights. She advocates for STEM education, and she pushes for the U.S. to address climate change, among many other issues.
I wondered where her passion came from, and I learned during my first Shadow Day that she was moved to seek justice for her daughter after she was discriminated against while in school.
I could relate to her experience, since my own grandmother experienced discrimination during the 1960s. She also turned a bad experience into a positive one by marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma for voting rights.
As Day 1 of my Shadow experience progressed, I began to admire Senora Ramos more and more. Her work is not solely driven by the amount of money that she can make. Her success is rooted in helping others. She took me to a meeting at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where I met people who work at the Department and the National Institutes of Health. I watched in amazement as she and fellow members of the Hispanic Coalition discussed the Coverage2Care initiative, which helps people with new health care understand their benefits. I was astonished by the concerns about health care affecting not only the Hispanic community, but also minorities in general. It was during this meeting that I witnessed just how compassionate Senora Ramos is. She wants to make sure that Latinos understand the benefits of their health care plan and the importance of going to doctor to prevent illness and disease. I have been taking Spanish for the past four years, and I was proud that I understood the gist of many of the comments during the meeting.
My day continued with a meeting at the Smithsonian Latino Center, where I learned about different programs taking place there. During this meeting, I witnessed Senora Ramos’ determination to promote the achievements of Latinos. As a parting gift, I received a book from the containing the achievements of Latinos, including Caesar Chavez, a Mexican American who urged Latinos to get involve with the labor movement.
The second day of my Shadow experience was also delightful. Senora Ramos arranged for us to have a meeting at the White House with Jordon Brooks, assistant director for the White House Council on Women and Girls. I learned about some of the programs they have to help women and girls. I also asked questions about fair pay for women and how to get more women involved in STEM careers. That meeting helped me to understand that I am proud to call myself a feminist.
In conclusion, I had an amazing time with Senora Ramos, and I plan to stay in contact with her. She is a wonderful person who has made a great impact on this world. I again want to thank her and the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland for this awesome experience. Lastly, I’d like to leave you with one of Senora Ramos’ inspirational quotes that sum up my impression of her: “Success is about reaching one’s goals without losing one’s soul. And it’s measured by the good one can contribute to the world.”