Outstanding graduate from Guatemala finds success through involvement, passion, and dedication

Ana Lucia Samayoa Ramos sits on green sign that reads "Behavioral Sciences, 410 Pitkin Street" in front of the Behavioral Sciences Building.

“I quite honestly do not know how I managed to be here today,” said Ana Lucia Samayoa Ramos, a first-generation college student graduating from Colorado State University’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “I had so many odds against me, but I did it.”

Samayoa Ramos, who uses they/them pronouns, was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Their parents, looking to provide a better future for their three kids, moved to Colorado when Samayoa Ramos was 14 years old. During their high school years, Samayoa Ramos learned about CSU, which became a dream to attend after graduation.

“Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to go to college, but was never sure I would have the opportunity to,” said Samayoa Ramos. “When I knew it was something I could do, I wanted to find a university that felt like home since I really did not have stability during my teenage years. CSU became my home quickly and for that I am so grateful.”

Finding a home away from home

Ana Lucia Samayoa Ramos smiles looking in the distance with brick background wearing orange shirt with dark polka dots all over.
Ana Lucia Samayoa Ramos smiles outside the Behavioral Sciences Building at CSU.

When talking about the adjustment to CSU, Samayoa Ramos said it was hard, but not impossible. Their first year was an exploratory start, coming into their journey as an undeclared student until they found a class that made it all click.

“I really did not know what I wanted to study, but after taking HDFS 101, I completely knew HDFS is where I belonged,” said Samayoa Ramos. “I truly believe that this major and department really focus on seeing human development from a cultural perspective, which to me is important.”

Aside from discovering their major, Samayoa Ramos also faced the challenge of language in university-level classes as English is Samayoa Ramos’s second language.

“Being an immigrant myself, when I first started college, I was afraid my English was not going to be enough to get me through classes or understand assignments,” they said. “It took a lot of effort to obtain my first ever A in an essay because of the struggle with the language.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Samayoa Ramos took on another challenge as the oldest sibling in the family. Through this extra responsibility, they still followed their dreams at CSU, putting in the work to get the degree.

“For me, COVID was really difficult,” said Samayoa Ramos. “I had to still do my homework, work, and take care of my family whenever anyone got sick or could not go to work.”

Samayoa Ramos attributes the CSU community and the support of their friends and family to their success and to making it to graduation.

“I also found a great support system when I became a peer mentor with HDFS,” said Samayoa Ramos. “That is when I met Lucy Paltoo, who became an important part of my college career. Lucy was always willing to help and listened to me when I most needed it. She guided me through the ins and outs of college as a first-generation student and gave me words of affirmation when I most needed it.”

Paltoo was Samayoa Ramos’ academic success coordinator in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

Leaving their mark

“I truly think this university offers a lot for students to get involved and become the change they want to see,” said Samayoa Ramos.

Taking the time to get involved on campus, Samayoa Ramos had the opportunity to intern at the CSU Trauma and Resilience Assessment Center (CTRAC), be a Human Development and Family Studies peer mentor, work as a leadership coach to Key Communities on campus, be part of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, a Latina-founded organization, and work at the front desk of Braiden Hall.

“I will never forget all the friendships and memories I made from interacting with the community every day,” said Samayoa Ramos.

In addition to their human development and family studies major with a concentration in prevention and intervention sciences, Samayoa Ramos will also graduate with a major in languages, literature, and cultures with a concentration in Spanish.

Being the change they wanted to see, Samayoa Ramos started a club on campus this semester called “Orgullo,” which is a safe space for queer folx of color to have a moment of community.

After graduating, Samayoa Ramos plans to spend a year working with immigrant students within the Fort Collins public school system who may need help and then continue their education with a master’s in marriage and family therapy.

“I will definitely miss the beautiful campus,” said Samayoa Ramos. “No matter the day or weather, every day I would wake up knowing it was going to be a beautiful walk to class.”

Story written by Leah Van Note, Communications and Marketing Intern for CSU Human Development and Family Studies. The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.