The Joy of the Servant Leader

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Veronica Ramirez Ramsay spends her time in the service of others, committed to bringing her healthcare leadership skills to her community.

Veronica Ramirez Ramsay finds time, or maybe she makes it. Either way, the UW Tacoma senior spends those extra hours and minutes in the service of others. “I aspire to be the voice of those who do not have a voice for themselves,” she said. “The underserved people who need those who are committed to advocacy to represent them”.

Born on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain, Ramirez Ramsay moved to Washington state at the age of five with her mother and sister. “We have family in the area so that’s why we decided to come here,” she said.

It’s hard to know exactly what drives us. Ramirez Ramsay’s selflessness likely has multiple influences, but one of them is most certainly her mother. The family settled in University Place. Ramirez Ramsay’s mother set about taking care of her two kids and her elderly mother, all while working full-time.

Ramirez Ramsay attended Curtis Senior High School. By that point her mother had enrolled at Tacoma Community College (TCC) where she completed an associate’s degree before transferring to Evergreen State College to pursue a bachelor’s in social work with a focus in case management and organizational management. “We actually graduated the same day,” said Ramirez Ramsay. “When I graduated high school, she graduated from college.”

Ramirez Ramsay also earned an associate’s degree from TCC before transferring to UW Tacoma in the fall of 2019. “I wanted a campus where I could meet people and build relationships,” she said. Ramirez Ramsay’s passion for helping others lead her to major in healthcare leadership with a minor in global engagement.

The past few years have been both busy and packed for Ramirez Ramsay. During her first year at UW Tacoma, Ramirez Ramsay worked the night shift as a residential counselor at the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) in Seattle. “DESC provides integrated services including housing, emergency shelter, crisis intervention and healthcare to thousands of homeless and formerly homeless people every day,” she said.

The job, especially the hours, made it difficult for Ramirez Ramsay to create community. She decided to make a change and found a position as a program coordinator with UW Tacoma’s Center for Equity & Inclusion. “I’ve really been able to step out of my comfort zone and break that shell,” she said. “Being a student worker has allowed me to build relationships.”

As for her studies, Ramirez Ramsay has immersed herself in the world of healthcare, both in and out of the classroom. She has earned two fellowships while at UW Tacoma, one from the Latino Center for Health at UW in Seattle and the other from the Institute of Public Policy Education & Training at Tacoma’s Centro Latino.

Before these fellowships, Ramirez Ramsay planned to work in the clinical side of healthcare, but now she’s exploring different career options within healthcare. “I’m very passionate about the clinical and medical side of healthcare, but I’m also very passionate about advocacy and social justice work,” she said. “So, being able to find that combination is really what I’m looking for in a career. The intersection of public health, clinical practice, and research are aspects of healthcare that I am passionate about and look forward to exploring throughout my career,” she said.

Ramirez Ramsay also volunteers at Swedish Medical Center as part of the Cope Health Scholars program. “I work collaboratively with physicians, nurses, and the rest of the health care team with the mission to deliver high quality care,” she said.

Ramirez Ramsay’s list of achievements is long. She recently earned a Mary Gates Research Scholar award. “My research project looked at how to provide healthcare access to populations with chronic conditions through policy change,” she said.

Her undergraduate career may be ending, but Ramirez Ramsay isn’t done learning. Graduate school is in her future, but not right now. Ramirez Ramsay plans to spend some time working and figuring out what career path is right for her. “Giving back is what brings me joy, this is what brings me life and what I strive to do, regardless of what it is,” she said.

As an aspiring healthcare leader, Ramirez Ramsay's long-term career goal is to improve access to healthcare for underserved communities and marginalized populations through advocacy, policy, and activism. “I am wholeheartedly committed to being a servant leader to my community in the effort of achieving my community’s optimal health and well-being,” she said.

Sounds like time well spent.

Return to 2021 Commencement: The Class of 2021

Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / June 10, 2021
Photos by: 
Ryan Moriarty
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or