The Ohio State University Alumni Association

Special Report But for Ohio State Campaign

Welcoming an opportunity to grow

‘Without those scholarships, college might not have been option.’ — Senior Kiki Ramos

Kiki Ramos

Ohio State freshmen can face a culture shock when they arrive at one of the largest universities in the country set in the middle of America’s 15th largest city.

But the bright lights and big city feel of Columbus weren’t a surprise for Kiki Ramos, a strategic communications major from the South Bronx. Instead, her shock came in learning that her new city wasn’t built for night owls quite like the Big Apple.

“I was like, what do you mean things close around 2 a.m.?” recalled the bubbly senior. “That’s not a thing!”

Freshman year was a tough adjustment in other ways, mainly because Ramos lost close family members. Her maternal grandmother and beloved pooch, Browney, died within weeks of her arrival in the Buckeye State.

Heartbroken, Ramos was ready to call it quits.

“My mother said, ‘Oh no, that is not an option. Your grandma would want you to stay,’” Ramos said. “I had some great mentors here, and they really were able to get me motivated to stay and stick it out.”

And stick it out she did. Ramos flourished at Ohio State, first becoming intrigued enough by a gender and sexuality class to pursue a women’s studies minor, and then finding a mentor in Assistant Professor Lanier Holt.

Holt’s crisis communications class forced students to examine all sides of an issue by providing them with test cases and randomly assigning them to one side or the other. Ramos was assigned to argue that the controversial shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was justified.

“It really took you out of your comfort zone,” she said. “The lesson was that in public relations, you aren’t always on the side you want to be on.”

She also got involved in the community, including through a breakfast reading program for children at Columbus’ Krumm Park.

Ramos, who grew up in a single-parent home, said scholarships have made her collegiate experience possible. Among them are two from the But for Ohio State Campaign: the Mariana and George Kaufman Scholarship for students from New York City and the Stairway to Heaven Scholarship established by Denny Lynch.

“Without those scholarships, college might not have been an option,” she said. “I’m going to be the first of my mom’s kids to graduate, and I’m really proud of that.”

As commencement nears, Ramos is thinking about pursuing a graduate degree in mass communications at Ohio State and perhaps doing research under Holt. She’s also applying for internships, including one in the Big Apple with the National Basketball Association.

“I would absolutely love it to be back home with them,” she said.