Every morning at 5:30, when the sun still has a few hours before it decides to rise, Jackie Ramos is already out of bed and headed to drive a van full of sleepy athletes to the Harlem River. She spends all of her mornings, nearly year round, at the Peter J. Sharp Boat House with the rest of the crew team. Jackie’s role on the team, however, is different from your image of a crew team member. She is the coxswain.
“It’s a weird thing I do,” Jackie said. “I get into a tiny, skinny boat that I can barely squeeze my hips into, and I steer this boat that’s as long as a school bus while yelling at people.”
For those unfamiliar with crew, the boats are made up of either four or eight rowers who provide the power for the boat, while one coxswain sits in the back of the boat. The coxswain is in charge of knowing the course, steering the boat and motivating all members of the team to perform to the best of their abilities.
Jackie has that talent. Coming into her freshman year she “fell into” the varsity eight coxswain position. From there, her boats finished first in every fall season regatta, including the Head of the Charles, the biggest regatta in the world. The Charles is by far her favorite regatta and she has gone back twice, finishing third and fifth in her sophomore and junior year respectively. The hardest thing about the sport for her, which is also her favorite aspect, is the challenge to motivate her teammates.
“Earning the trust and respect of every single person in that boat is really tough, especially when they’re rowing and you’re sitting there,” Jackie said. “But when the boat clicks, and I can see their efforts and mine working together, it’s all worth it.”
In addition to helping her team, she is actively involved in helping the Fordham and Bronx community.
As a Fordham Athletics tutor, she brings her ability to motivate to an academic setting. As a pre-med student, she tutors a variety of athletes who are also on this difficult tract. Additionally, she has recently become very involved with Part of the Solution. This restaurant-style soup kitchen, located on Webster Avenue, has created a new interest for her in the homeless community.
“It’s really opened my eyes to this network of people who need help, and who are so grateful for the services that POTS provides. I feel like it has made me grow and become a better person,” said Jackie.
While Jackie juggles her athletic career with her service at Fordham, she is also actively pursuing her dream of becoming a Physicians Assistant. Recently, she has begun volunteering at Weil Cornell Hospital in Manhattan, a branch of New York Presbyterian Hospital. She will be working to complete at least 300 volunteer hours, starting in their post-surgical unit, to apply to a PA graduate program after graduating Fordham. Although this may seem like a daunting task, Ramos is excited for the opportunity.
“Preparing for my PA program will allow me to give my privilege of being able to go to this amazing school, allowing me to become more educated and open minded, to others,” Jackie said.
If she were to give one piece of advice to the Fordham community, it would be to pursue what you love. As a pre-med student, Jackie has a rigorous course load with a heavy focus on science. Although science has always interested her and she came to school declared as a biology major, she recently added an English major. Her desire to understand people through her love of literature motivated her to work towards this double major. When asked about how difficult she thought this would be, Jackie said, “Why go to a liberal arts college if you’re not going to study what you love?”