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Ramon Antonio Rodriguez ’09

 

Ramon Antionio Rodriguez v2Ramon Antonio Rodriguez ’09 (Classical High School) graduated from Brown University in 2013 with a B.S. in Human Biology. “Human Biology is an interdisciplinary concentration that aims to complement the study of key biological disciplines such as cell biology and physiology with principles from social science and the behavioral sciences,” he says. “It is the perfect concentration for students who are thinking about studying medicine.”

Ramon also chose his course of study because he wanted to understand the biological components of health and disease and also be able to analyze health and disease through a sociological framework. He is passionate about eliminating health disparities that exist in urban Black and Latino communities. “It is not enough to know the biological factors of disease to begin addressing the root causes of health disparities in these communities,” he says. “It is imperative to develop a deep understanding of the social determinants of health to work towards health equity. I felt that by pursuing Human Biology, I would be better equipped to address health disparities in my future career as a doctor.” Ramon plans to begin medical school this fall at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

After graduating from Brown, Ramon received a post-baccalaureate research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The lab he worked in specialized in basic science on the causes of neurodegenerative diseases. “I was involved in all aspects of the research: independently developing ideas for experiments, conducting experiments, interpreting results, and eventually troubleshooting issues that almost always came up,” he says. “Biology research was fun for me, and I was able to develop my critical thinking skills, which is an invaluable skillset to have.”

He then served as a Clinical Research Assistant at the Bradley-Hasbro Children’s Research Center in Providence. There, his work shifted to clinical research with human subjects in two different labs. One research group aims to address pediatric asthma disparities that persist in Latino and Black communities in the greater Providence area. The other focuses on the development of psychological disorders and public health. “I loved this work because it is intimately tied to my long-term career goals of eliminating health disparities,” says Ramon. “I have gained a deeper understanding of the social determinants of health by going out in the field and seeing firsthand the social realities that our participants face on a daily basis.”

Ramon has great memories of being a Crusader. “My experience as a Crusader was incredibly positive,” he says. “I especially enjoyed Cru Club when I was in high school because I was able to learn a lot about important topics that weren’t necessarily covered in school, like financial literacy and career paths. I also was able to interact with Crusade alumni who had been in my shoes before and were leading Cru Club. That was empowering. I felt like I could accomplish what they had worked so hard to achieve. Crusade alumni became almost like a blueprint for me to continue pushing forward to achieve my aspirations.”

Once Ramon got to college, his aspirations became clear. “I had the opportunity to freely explore my interests and learned that I was passionate about medicine,” he says. “At Brown I was able to cultivate my passion through my concentration, extracurricular engagements, and the unwavering support and guidance of very important and significant mentors along the way (huge shout out to Dr. Jabbar Bennett!).”

Ramon’s College Crusade scholarship also helped. “I am eternally grateful to The College Crusade for giving me a generous scholarship throughout my four years of college,” he says. “I was able to use the funds from the College Crusade scholarship to pay some of my tuition and buy books and supplies, year after year, which was an invaluable and immense contribution. It eased a lot of the anxiety I had about graduating from college with debt, especially because I knew that my parents did not make enough money to contribute. Thank you so much!”

In his free time, Ramon enjoys swimming, exploring Rhode Island, listening to podcasts and music, reading, and creative writing. Lately he’s gotten into videography. He has a lot of inspiring advice for Crusaders starting college in the fall:

“First, take a deep breath and relax. You have made a huge leap into what will prepare you for an amazing future! You should feel proud of this incredible accomplishment. Know that you deserve to be here. College will be quite an adjustment, since courses go at a faster pace than high school classes. Make sure you pace yourself accordingly, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Professors have office hours available for students, and they will most likely have teaching assistants who can offer you support as well. Your college will also have tutoring services available. College has a wide variety of academic support for students — never hesitate to take advantage of any of these resources.

“Having said that, don’t push yourself too hard. Mental and physical wellness are incredibly important. Make sure you carve out time for yourself to get some exercise in, eat balanced and nutritious meals, and make time to do whatever it is that helps you de-stress. If you feel like the pressure is too much, or that you need to talk to someone, colleges often have student counselors available. You can also talk to your first year advisors as well. Don’t brush any concerns or stresses that you may have under the rug. Please reach out to trusted people and a professional for help. Aim to keep your mental health in balance.

“Finally, take advantage of the networking opportunities available in college. Is there a professor you wish to have as a mentor? Drop into their office hours. Talk to them about their research or an interesting lecture that they gave. Talk to them on a regular basis so that they know you and you know them. Don’t be afraid to build these professional relationships in college. Cultivating sustained, meaningful mentoring relationships with professors and other staff members in college is incredibly important and cannot be stressed enough. Mentors may give you insight into your career choice, invite you to do research with them, and set you up with other professionals. They will be essential when you need a strong reference or letter of recommendation later on. Networking is key.

Have fun! College is a fun place and you will make some of the best friendships in college. Take advantage of it all.”

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