Herald Neighbors

Full ride to NYU to study engineering


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He wants to be a civil engineer and with four years of college already paid off before stepping into his first day at New York University, Freeport High School senior, Franco Ramirez, 17, is excitedly awaiting to graduate in June. 

Ramirez was recently selected as a recipient of the Gates Scholarship, a highly selective, scholarship for exceptional, minority high school seniors. Annually the scholarship is awarded to 300 top students around the country with the intent of promoting their academic excellence through the pursuit of a college education and graduation.

Ramirez is of Mexican and El Salvadoran descent, who grew up in a single parent household after his father was deported to El Salvador. After seeing his mother struggle to make ends meet to support him and his two siblings, he vowed he’d dedicate his heart to his schoolwork. He says seeing his mother take on the role of his father too, made him look at her as one of the greatest fighters he’s ever known. 

“It was hard seeing others (especially in younger years) talk about both of their parents with beaming eyes while I only had one,” Franco said. “My family was the biggest factor in making me into who I am today.”

His passions include math and science. He says he wants to follow in his older brother’s footsteps towards a career in the  STEM field. Ramirez says he believes science can explain many life curiosities while math is the language used to describe complex scientific ideas. 

“I liked how civil engineers bring an architect’s design to life. Civil engineers work on buildings, roads, and bridges to make sure they are structurally sound and safe,” Ramirez said. 

When Ramirez doesn’t have his nose in a book, he’s involved in school activities like the Navy Junior ROTC where he is the executive officer and the second in command for the entire unit at the school or playing his trumpet and presently the band manager for the FHS marching band.

“Franco is a team player and has always been a team player,” said band director, Michael Larsora. “He’s always willing to roll up his sleeves and help others within his section and in the band.”

After the scholarship announcement, Ramirez decided to commit to New York University.

“It’ll relieve some of the economic pressure my mom [felt about putting] me through college,” Ramirez said. 

With the world at his fingertips, Ramirez says he wants to use his education to possibly build hospitals and community centers to help those going through depression. He also wants to contribute back to society and in a way, he says, open gates for others, the way the Gates Scholarship opened one for him.

Maya Brown is a senior at Freeport High School and an intern at the Freeport Herald Leader.