“I am a survivor, I am not a victim”

By ELISA NAVARRO, Student Writer

Imagine living in pain, fear, abuse, and loneliness. Where people around you aren’t listening to you or noticing your suffering. Not just for a few days or months…but for ten years.

Then think about trying to navigate through your teenage years alone.

Roseanna Ramirez (2013) did both.

“I was two years old when my mother gave me away to her best friend’s parents. I didn’t find out until later but my mother was a prostitute. I grew up in Easton, California in a very abusive home, both sexually and verbally,” Ramirez said.

As a child, Ramirez was often depressed but always knew that there had to be a better way. Remaining positive and feeling a sense of God in her life helped her through her struggles.

“I told a family member what was going on and she immediately took precautions to take me out of that home and it was my sister Virginia De la Fuente, those were her parents so it was really big of her to do that.”

Being at school enabled Ramirez to forget her reality.

“It was somewhere where I could be free and be myself. I liked to write and read and I think that was my way to escape and forget everything.”

After high school, Ramirez moved out of her sister’s home, living in hotels and on the streets, while also attending Fresno City College and working at nights.

But it wasn’t working.

Ramirez found herself failing classes and making choices she immediately regretted. Getting pregnant changed the course that her life was taking.

“I became pregnant when I was 19 and it really changed my life. It made me realize how important I am and how I wanted to be the parent that I never had,” said Ramirez. “I went back to school when my son was six months…I just knew that I could do it. I loved school and around the same time I got hired as a janitor for the County of Fresno. So I was working nights, went to school all day, didn’t have my license to drive myself, and was a mom.”

In May of 2013 Ramirez graduated from Fresno State with her degree in Health Care Administration, got her drivers license, a new car and has finally been able to take a step back and see the impact of all her hard work.

Four months after graduating her job with the County of Fresno changed. After 14 years of working as a janitor, Ramirez accepted a promotion, becoming an Eligibility Worker.

What she loves about her work is that it enables her to help others who have a similar life story, and are working to change the course of their life.

“My son, Demaree Jones, is 18 years old and is now working for a marketing company. My daughter, Vira Jones, is a freshman and she is very active in school activities, and I’m really happy to see her get so involved with her school.”

Both of Ramirez’s children have seen everything she has had to overcome and the strong, independent woman she is. Her motivation and drive has taught them the importance of following their own dreams.

“You don’t let your past define who you are. You just have to get up and push forward. I tried not to have a victim mentality but more of a survivor mentality. I am a survivor, I am not a victim,” said Ramirez.

Related:
You only need one person rooting for you
Farther and higher than any person is expected to climb