2014 Ramiro Sanchez Maldonado

When you see him as a leader in his school, star player on the soccer field or volunteer in his community, you would never guess there was a time in Ramiro Sanchez Maldonado’s young life when he couldn’t see a way out of poverty and despair.

When Ramiro moved from Mexico to the United States as a five-year-old, he says it was more of an obligation than an opportunity. Left with nobody to care for them after the tragic death of their mother, Ramiro and his brother went to live with their father in Minnesota.

Unfortunately, the joy of being reunited with his father and sisters quickly disappeared. Ramiro’s father started drinking heavily and his brother got involved with the wrong crowd. The family moved to Arkansas to try for a fresh start, but Ramiro’s brother returned to Mexico and his father’s alcoholism worsened. Hopelessness reached its peak for Ramiro when one of his sisters fell ill. Ramiro and his sister went to Minnesota in hopes of finding medical treatment for her illness, but they ended up finding much more. Upon returning to Minnesota, 14-year-old Ramiro was welcomed into his oldest sister’s home in Minneapolis. The love and support he received from his sister and her family let him focus in school and work toward a brighter future. “I was given the opportunity to make my life better and I am taking full advantage,” Ramiro says.

With a near perfect GPA at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis, Ramiro balances rigorous academics with school activities and work. As a National Honor Society Officer, Student Ambassador, athlete, and volunteer, Ramiro stands out to Roosevelt Principal Michael Bradley as a leader who “will impact future society.”

Ramiro plans to be one of the first in his family to graduate from college. He is deciding whether to become an engineer, doctor or lawyer. Something his sister told him inspires him to keep working toward his goals: “Look back to what you have lived and overcome,” she said.  “Let that be an inspiration to look forward and strive to greater achievements. Don’t let the past stop you, let the present enrich you, and the future create you.”