Interview: Desiree Ramírez (2002)
Interviewee: Desiree Ramírez
Interviewer: Clarence G. Williams
Date: May 13, 2002
About the Interviewee
Desiree Ramírez '02 of Carmichael, CA was a chemical engineering major and president of LUChA (La Unión Chicana por Aztlán) at MIT at the time of this interview. She had been a teaching assistant and freshman associate advisor to Clarence C. Williams for the past two years, leading discussions on racial and culturally sensitive topics.
In confirming her nomination to the 2001 MIT MLK Leadership Awards, Williams, her freshman advisor, wrote:
Her leadership in the freshman seminar was one of the finest examples of student teaching and individual growth in the arena of race and culture that I have witnessed during my tenure of teaching in this area...After her freshman year, she was determined to make a difference in the MIT Latino student community...She, along with several other female students, founded a Latina sorority (Phi Delta Upsilon, La Fuerza de Damas Unidas) aimed at creating positive interaction among female students in the Latino community, and the MIT general community. Desiree's leadership has been in the forefront of this movement.
Ramírez went on to earn an MS in Chemical Engineering from University of California, Los Angeles and a JD from University of California, Berkeley.
Bridge Leadership Program
The Bridge Leadership Program was developed by Clarence G. Williams at MIT.
This program provides perspectives and developments of new insights based on the concept “Bridge Leadership” that emerged in Technology and the Dream: Reflections on the Black Experience at MIT, 1941-1999 (MIT Press, 2001). The concept developed from the investigator’s view as an important element in the educational experiences of black students and faculty members at MIT. It defined a small core of mostly non-black faculty and administrators who worked diligently, along with the limited number of underrepresented faculty and students, to bridge divisions at the university based on race. While this book focused on the black experience, a new phase of the “bridge leadership” concept was broadened over the past nine years to include not only race but culture and ethnicity as well. The project has developed through interaction beyond MIT with over sixty former and current presidents, senior faculty and administrators at 17 major universities and educational institutions. What has surfaced from interviews and fact findings from these institutions (see lists of “bridge leaders” and “bridge leader targets”) is a core of identifiable characteristics associated with “bridge leader” professionals, both faculty and administrators who work to transform their campuses into a more welcoming, nurturing environment for minorities and other individuals from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.