Hispanic Heritage Month takes place each year from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Throughout the month, The Daily has highlighted members of the university community who are of Hispanic heritage to celebrate their accomplishments and shed light on their experiences at CWRU.
When Camila Ramos Rivera was in high school, she took a career aptitude test that pointed her to the nursing profession. She decided nursing must run in the family.
“My aunt told me that my grandma would have been proud,” Ramos Rivera said of her results. “She died before I was born, but the impact she left in her neighborhood and the community was unforgettable. She would cook and take care of the neighbors who were sick.”
Though Ramos Rivera was born in Puerto Rico and lived there her entire life, she was determined to attend Case Western Reserve University after learning about its top-ranked nursing program, which offers students more than 1,000 clinical hours at four world-renowned health systems.
Now a third year at Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Ramos Rivera hopes to one day use her knowledge to help develop—or at least be a part of developing —the profession in her home country.
“In Puerto Rico, the nursing field, and even the hospital systems, [are] not as developed as the ones in the United States,” she explained. “Some nurses in the U.S. can prescribe medications to patients or administer anesthesia. In Puerto Rico, this scope doesn’t exist.”
In her time living in Cleveland and studying at Case Western Reserve, Ramos Rivera—a proud boricua (Puerto Rican)—has reveled the opportunity to learn about and experience other cultures from around the world.
She said Hispanic Heritage Month offers her an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions and history of the people who came before her, and to share her knowledge with the campus community.
“You don’t have to be hispanic to celebrate,” she said. “I love people who ask questions and who want to be part of supporting our culture.”
If you ask her what she misses most about living in Puerto Rico, you’re likely to hear a few things—notably, the Christmas holiday. We’re just days away from Halloween, which means Ramos Rivera’s mother will start hanging Christmas decorations any day now.
“My mom [won’t] take these decorations down until the third week of Janaury—and [you would] never dare [question her],” Ramos Rivera said.
While she can’t exactly match her mother’s enthusiasm for Christmas in her dorm room, Ramos Rivera has been able to incorporate other aspects of her culture into her daily routine, whether that’s making coffee using Mami’s beans, a brand of coffee from Puerto Rico; playing salsa music while she washes dishes; or buying plantains to make “mofongo” (mashed plantains).
Ramos Rivera has even made it a point to educate her friends about her culture through playing dominoes, where each piece has the Puerto Rican flag, and playing “Briscas,” a Spanish card game.
“I have organized tournaments for these games,” Ramos Rivera said, “and I’m hurt to admit that I have lost playing with them.”
When she’s not planning game nights with friends, Ramos Rivera is busy coordinating events as president of La Alianza, a Latinx student organization that serves the community, celebrates the Latinx culture and supports Latinx students at the university.
“This organization has brought me incredible memories, experiences and lifelong friends,” said Ramos Rivera, who’s been involved with the group since her first year. “I get to learn and appreciate others’ stories, for instance, first/second/third generations Latinx/Hispanic or mixed cultured students.”