Crowder alum living the American Dream


Steve Chapman
Copy Editor

In his book “Epic of America,” the historian James Truslow Adams defined the American Dream as “a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

Former Crowder student Duany Ramos is a strong example of Adams’s definition of the American Dream. When she first came to the United States, she could barely speak English. Six years later, she has not only mastered English, but has also gone on to get a college education, pursue a master’s degree, and has even started her own business.

Growing up in the Honduras, Ramos dreamt of being a teacher like her grandmother. Unable to pursue her dream there, she came to the United States when she was 17 to join her mother, who was already living in Los Angeles, CA.

At first, Ramos found life in the United States very difficult.

“When I first came to the United States, I wanted to go back,” she said in an interview. “It was hard for me because … the culture was different (and) I didn’t speak English. The high school I went to was not safe and…I was being bullied.”

Six months after Ramos arrived in Los Angeles, her mother decided it would be best for them to move, and they came to Milan, MO. Ramos described this change as a positive one because it gave her no choice but to master English.

“In LA I never got to practice my English because everybody spoke Spanish,” she said. “When I moved to Missouri, it was good because I actually had to talk in English.

“The high school I went to; I was the only one in my ESL classroom. I didn’t have anyone to talk to in Spanish; I was forced to practice my English.”

It was at Milan High School that Ramos first heard of Crowder College.

“Someone from Crowder went to my high school and gave this little presentation about Crowder and they (talked) about CAMP (College Assistance Migrant Program)…they told me (about) all the good opportunities I could have at Crowder.”

Ramos decided to apply to Crowder College. To this end, she received a lot of help from her ESL instructor at Milan.

“She is the one who helped me to apply to Crowder and (to write) my essay and she told me I could do it. She is the one who pushed me to try, because I was afraid. I didn’t know English. I was afraid to transfer to college; I only went to high school for one year (and) my English was not good.” However, as Ramos continued to practice her English, she got better at it, and she noticed she was improving each year.

As a Crowder student, Ramos was very active in college life. She was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, as well as a participant in the CAMP program.

Alicia Irsik, director of CAMP, remembers Ramos as a hard working student who made getting her education a priority.

“It was important for Duany to do this,” Irsik said. “Not only for herself, but for family…those who would come after her.”

She added that Ramos “wanted to set a very good example for them.” Irsik and Ramos still keep in contact.

CAMP helped Ramos a great deal while she was studying at Crowder. She said “(CAMP) always (had) someone to help me with my essays, they always (had) a tutor for me, (and) they always (provided) academic help so I could…do better in my classes.”

Ramos graduated from Crowder College in 2011 with honors and an Associate’s of Arts in Teacher Education; she then transferred to Missouri State University, where she earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Education last year. Instead of going directly to the classroom, however, she chose to attend graduate school. Currently, she is a graduate assistant at Missouri State, and is pursuing a Master’s of Science in Educational Administration.

When Ramos graduates with her Master’s degree, she plans to start her own school. She is already self-employed part-time on the weekends, giving private Spanish lessons.

“Now…I’m getting more and more people who ask if I can tutor them or if


I would teach some classes to their little kids. So now I’m… doing this small business on my weekends.”

When she is finished with her graduate work, she plans to open the school in partnership with her mother.

“Maybe one day I’ll have my own…private bilingual school. That’s my goal.”

Though it has been years since she was a Crowder student, Ramos is still involved with Crowder. On Feb. 28, she returned to serve on the first ever CAMP career day, where she spoke to CAMP students and participated in a question and answer session.