Army Reserve member settles into rhythm as first-semester freshman

Uriel Ramirez graduated from Pasco High School, considered attending other Washington colleges instead of WSU



Uriel Ramirez’s passion for fitness and physical training motivated him to pursue a degree in a related field (pictured right).

BRANSON VIRGEN, Evergreen reporter

Uriel Ramirez remembers the days not too long ago when he and other fresh recruits were woken up by drill sergeants with campaign hats — the epitome of authority — at any given hour of the night. These were the days when he and his new peers stayed in barracks-style living quarters and underwent a difficult 10-week period of physical and mental training. 

Ramirez would be subject to learning new skills and, of course, a brand-new set of rules to follow over this time. This place that Ramirez remembers so vividly is Army Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

Ramirez, then 18 years old, was a part of the latest graduating class at Pasco High School in Tri-Cities, Wash.and was well on his way to completing the seven months of training required by the Army Reserve for firefighters. 

After his time in Missouri, Ramirez would head to San Angelo, Texas to undergo the second phase of his military training at Goodfellow Air Force Base. Ramirez said although he had many reasons for enlisting, he liked the benefits the Army offered after high school. 

“I was a bit nervous about joining, but I knew that it would set me up for future success in my career no matter what I decided to do as a profession,” Ramirez said. 

Ramirez, a first-generation college student studying kinesiology, has now started his first semester here at WSU. His path to the Palouse was a bit unorthodox, but he has made his way here, nevertheless. 

When Ramirez finished his training with the military, he moved back home to the Tri-Cities and worked making coffee. It was here that Ramirez started to contemplate his post-secondary education at a four-year institution. Ramirez said he remembers pondering where he wanted to go to school and recalls reviewing the many options. 

“Eastern, Central, UW, Western and even going back to [Columbia Basin College] were all potential routes for me,” Ramirez said. 

Ramirez’s passion for fitness and physical training motivated him to pursue a degree in a related field.

Ramirez’s brother, Alessandro Ponce, said that Ramirez has always had high aspirations and has planned to study kinesiology for a long time. Ponce’s older brother has been a role model for him because of his unmatched work ethic. 

“Uriel is a go-getter,” Ponce said. “His hard work to get to where he is proves that he has earned every opportunity that comes his way.”

Ramirez said he ultimately decided on continuing his education at WSU because of the student life and the kinesiology degree he wanted to pursue.

“I have always heard of the culture here as being a huge proud family, and that is something that I want to experience during my time in college,” Ramirez said. 

Even though he was thrilled to start a new chapter at WSU, Ramirez said he experienced lots of different emotions. His biggest concern was the transition back into an educational environment after military training. 

“The class size was a bit intimidating,” he said. “You always hear about the huge lecture halls at universities and sometimes you can’t help but to think, ‘Will this be too much for me?’”

On top of the change of curriculum and class size, the idea of starting a semester later than his peers in his dorm, classes and graduating class was also something that Ramirez said he thought about.

“In the back of my head, I knew there was a possibility it would be harder to make friends just because everyone already knew each other from starting the fall semester together,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez has found the WSU environment very welcoming and said he has fit comfortably into life as a Coug. 

“It has been a fun time for sure,” Ramirez said. “There was a bit of a learning curve with classes the first two weeks, but I think I got the hang of things now in my schedule.”

Ramirez is living on the Southside of campus and has been able to connect with many different people there. On top of this, Ramirez is joining a fraternity and said the social events are a great way to meet people.

Now finally settled in on the Palouse, Ramirez is excited for what the next chapter holds for him. Whether Ramirez is fulfilling his obligations to the Army Reserve, pursuing his studies in kinesiology or hanging with his friends in the fraternity, he will have a ton on his plate. One thing is for sure though, he said he feels as if he made the perfect choice to come here and be a part of the Cougar family.