Isaura Ramirez, a retired Army captain, is a Mission Continues Fellow working in the W&M Office of Diversity & Inclusion. The Mission Continues is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that partners veterans with community organizations "to create transformational change for communities in need all across the country," according to its website. Ramirez began her six-month fellowship in October, but this isn't her first time on campus. She was one of the featured speakers at the 2017 TEDxWilliam&Mary event and is a graduate of and volunteer with the Armed Services Arts Partnership's Comedy Bootcamp. W&M News recently asked Ramirez a few questions about her work and the contributions of veterans to the campus community.
What are your responsibilities as a Mission Continues fellow at W&M?
Mission Continues Fellows take on high community impact roles that support diverse community members. As a fellow serving at W&M Diversity & Inclusion office, I will focus in decreasing veteran employment barriers by building community partnerships to help develop better pathways for veteran employment in higher education in order to support community efforts in bridging the gap between the military and civilian sector.
What do you hope to accomplish by the end of your fellowship?
By the end of my fellowship in April 2018, I hope to increase engagement between veterans and the W&M community through new employment opportunities for veterans, a mentorship program and Green Zone training for staff and faculty in order to develop a supportive campus community for veterans and family members.
What unique attributes do veterans bring to the W&M community and how do they help contribute to the diversity of the university?
Leadership, adaptability and integrity are attributes commonly found among the veteran population. Service members are given increasing responsibility from day one in service. They are trained to adapt and overcome a changing enemy and environment and expected to sacrifice themselves to honor their duties for the good of the nation. Veterans keep their eyes on the big picture while keeping close attention to details. They have experience working with people from different cultures and backgrounds, making them an asset for organizations looking to improve their company’s culture to become more diverse and inclusive. Veterans make up 9 percent of the state of Virginia’s population with close to 30 percent of Virginia veterans living in the Greater Hampton Roads region.
How can W&M honor veterans within the campus community?
The best way to honor veterans is to make a conscious effort to engage veterans and family members in your community. Reach out and connect. In doing so, you will do your part in bridging the gap between military and civilians and helping our veterans coming home transition to welcoming communities.