Odemaris Ramirez (BGS '18)—Occupational Therapy Student

Brother’s needs fuels TWU grad’s passion for helping others

TWU student Odemaris Ramirez and her brother Angel

Odemaris Ramirez remembers the challenging therapy sessions her brother Angel endured as a 2-year-old cerebral palsy patient.

The regimen was focused on helping him walk and strengthening his left arm, both conditions of the disorder, which causes muscle weakness and motor disability. As he grew, the therapy evolved into teaching him adaptive ways to perform routine functions, such as dressing himself and writing.

Ramirez had a front-row seat in watching her brother develop and become more independent in everyday life, and she played a key role in helping him go through his daily exercises. Now 19, Angel has become increasingly independent, although he still requires care.

“There are so many things that Angel’s therapy has helped him with throughout the years, but overall the therapy he has received has helped him gain his identity and sense of independence,” Ramirez said.

It was a big motivating influence in Ramirez’ life, so it was no surprise she chose to attend a health professions magnet high school in the Dallas Independent School District and that she later would enroll at Texas Woman’s University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in general studies with a focus on occupational therapy.

After graduating cum laude in 2018, Ramirez enrolled in TWU’s graduate OT program in Houston, and is scheduled to earn her graduate degree in December.

While her focus on helping others with similar issues as those of her brother hasn’t waivered, it’s important to note that Ramirez herself had challenges to overcome on her path to pursuing a career in occupational therapy.

She came to the United States from Morelos, Mexico, when she was 2, and learned later in life that a path to citizenship could be time consuming and costly. She gained legal status to remain in the country while in high school through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

As a first-generation college student, Ramirez had little guidance on navigating a clear-cut academic path, but she knew paying for college would certainly be an issue. With both her parents working and having to pay for costly therapy for her brother, she found ways to fund her college education.

She worked part time and earned three scholarships and a grant to help defray the lion’s share of her college expenses. And she gained valuable leadership experience as a TWU undergraduate. She served as a housing assistant, a freshman orientation leader and was community service chair in the sorority, Sigma Lambda Alpha.

Those experiences and her desire to help others with physical disabilities have fueled her passion over the years, and Ramirez is now focused on starting a career serving people in acute care centers.

“I want to be that person that helps patients achieve their goals and get back to the day-to-day activities important to them,” Ramirez said. “I want to help them improve their independence and their overall quality of life.”

Page last updated 4:53 PM, September 28, 2020